Tag-Archive for ◊ google apps ◊

Mobile Devices – Part 1 – Meraki
Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 | Author:

Since posting about our tablet devices, I have received a range of questions about their management so I decided to write two blog posts about how we have set them up and managed them within our school. These are similar steps for our Apple and Android devices. We currently have 10 iPads on our domain, 8 being used for monitoring children via the 2Simple Profile app in our pre-school and Early Years and 2 iPads used for SLT for various monitoring tasks and for observations. We also currently have 108 Android tablets for use by children from Year 1 to Year 6.

To manage the devices, we have used Meraki from Cisco. This is free and is available here: https://account.meraki.com/secure/login/dashboard_login This post will show you some of the things that Meraki can do and what we have set up so far.

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The first thing to do is to visit the website and click Create Account. It will ask you to verify your email address and then you can login and access the dashboard.

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Once logged in, it will ask you to create a new network.

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We gave it a name and then chose MDM for Mobile Device Management. I’m not sure what the other options do!

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You are then given the option to add devices. You can add IOS, Windows, Android or Chromebooks. Our Chromebooks are managed by the Google Apps dashboard and I haven’t tried adding Windows devices.

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There are two ways to add an Android device. The first is to download the Meraki Systems Manager app from Google Play. Once open, you click enrol and enter the 10digit code. Alternatively, visit the mobile website and enter the code on there. This will then ask you to install the app anyway. Please note, this isn’t our real code, this is a mock account for the purpose of this blog post.

For IOS devices, this works in a very similar way. There are a few certification steps along the way where you have to verify things with Apple, but it is easy enough to add a device using the steps provided.

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Once some devices have been added, it would be useful to create a profile. For IOS this gives you the ability to lock certain features e.g. turning off Siri or Facetime or blocking apps from installing. It also allows you to set a passcode for all devices.

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For us, the most important part on the profile page is to setup the Wifi. We were able to assign the Wifi name (SSID) and the password and proxy settings. This was then pushed to all devices within our Meraki domain. We set this up and then added all of our devices, once enrolled, they automatically collect the settings. If you have added devices already, simply click the sync option on the app and it will re-download them.

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Once the devices have been added, they will show on the Monitor>Clients page. From here, you can click on each device and rename it. You can also see the serial code, useful for inventory purposes and it also shows other information such as which version of the operating system is running, which apps are installed and which are missing. It also shows a map to give a rough location of the device.

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From the MDM>Apps page, you can choose which apps to install on the devices.

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For Android, you simply click Add New and then search the Google Play store. Pressing add and then save will send a link to this app to all of your devices.

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You can also click on an app you have used previously and re-push it to any devices that haven’t installed it yet.

For IOS devices, the process is similar but you will need to register for VPP (Volume Purchasing Program) so that you can buy the apps at a discounted rate and then install them on multiple devices. This can take a little while to go through as when you register for VPP, Apple will check your identity and that you belong to a real school. Once this has all been done, you can add the information from your VP account into Meraki. Free apps work in a similar way to the Android apps above.

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For Apple devices, the Organization>MDM page will highlight the various certificates and approvals that you will need to get things working. It doesn’t take long, but it is another step in the process.

 

We have only just started using Meraki, but it seems like a fab free tool for managing lots of devices. There are lots of things that it can;t do e.g. setting up each device to look the same or updating the operating system, but for the basics, it does them very well.

This next post looks at how to enrol the devices onto the Meraki domain.

 

Setting up Chromebooks – Part 2
Saturday, October 18th, 2014 | Author:

Following on from Part 1 where I talked about the physical setting up, this post will talk look at the Google Apps Dashboard and the settings that are currently available. Be  aware, this is Google. They change regularly. If it changes a lot, I will update this guide.

First off, you will need to login to your Google Apps Dashboard – www.google.com/a/yourdomainname.co.uk for example.

You will see an icon for Device Management. If this is not there, click More Controls at the bottom to bring it up.

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Then you will see Mobile and Chrome. Next to each, there are links to Devices (takes you to Devices below, Settings (takes you to Device Settings) and Shipments (takes you to Advanced\Shipments).  For this guide I am looking at the Chromebook setup rather than the Mobile one. I haven’t used the Mobile pages on Google Apps yet so I’m not sure how they work.

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Clicking Chrome will show this screen:

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The top number on this page shows the amount of active users within the last 7 days. Below I’ll try to explain each page of the menus is for and what it can do. I will also say which options we have turned on or off and which we have left. Obviously you can choose your own settings, but this is what we have done. If the settings aren’t mentioned below (there are a lot) then we have left them alone. I have tried to just mention the main ones.

 

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This page gives you the choice of various options for the users within your domain. You can choose a default wallpaper for example.

>>>>Pre-installed Apps and Extensions – Chrome has apps. Lots of them in fact. Now there is a way of managing some of these by pre-installing them onto the devices. Simply click Manage and then search for apps to install onto every chromebook.

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>>>>Security – We have chosen to never lock the screen when it is idle and to disallow incognito mode but these are minor things for us. We also don’t save the browser history either. We have prevented users from proceeding to malicious sites and allowed sites to detect users’ geolocation just to prevent sites from asking! I’m not sure if this is the best option, but it stopped a few errant pop-ups.

>>>>Startup – We have added the Home button to all chromebooks. This makes it much easier to get to the school website, especially for younger children. We have also set the Homepage URL. We have a page setup – www.ridersschools.co.uk/children – that has links to various tools that we use so it’s easier to get to that and then navigate to other stuff. We have also set the Chromebooks to load that page and the Google homepage on startup. That covers most things that we the children will use.

>>>>URL Blocking – There is the option to block URLs from being accessed but our filtering does this anyway, so we have left this blank.

>>>>Bookmark Bar – We have enabled this to make it easier for students.

 

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We haven’t changed anything on here as every user logs in to access the Chromebook so the settings on the menu above will apply.

 

 

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>>>>Guest Mode – We have allowed this just in case there is ever an issue logging on (usually an incorrect username or password but so far no-one has needed it.

>>>>Power Management – We have told the devices to remain on if they are on the sign-in screen. We found that this was easier than trying to figure out if the device was off or asleep.

>>>>Auto Update Settings – We have set the Chromebooks to auto-update and these are scattered over a 14day period. This means, unlike Windows, updates will happen slowly rather than trying to update everything all at once. To be honest, we have yet to notice an update cause a problem. When an update gets downloaded, it is installed the next time the machine is turned off and on again. Easy.

>>>>Time Zone – We have set the time zone. It was confusing the children when it was on US time 🙂

 

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This is where you can add your wireless settings so that the Chromebooks will automatically join the network. Click Add Wi-Fi, add the name, password, proxy settings etc and then save. The Chromebooks will now find the Wifi automatically. Adding the Wi-Fi here means that if you change the Wi-Fi password for example, you just need to tell the Chromebooks one rather than having to do it manually on every device.

 

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This shows you the serial numbers for all of the devices that you have enrolled within your domain. It also shows if the device has been provisioned, when it was enrolled and by which user. There is also a notification of how many licenses you own and have used.

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Errr…this page seems to show all of the other menus..but in one place. Not sure why it is there. There might be additional options, but they are not obvious! Ok, so shipments is on there. But that’s it.

 

So that is how we have set-up our Chromebooks. If you have any ideas for improving this, or you think I have missed a setting that is vital or if you have any questions then please add them in the comments below and I will amend this post accordingly.

 

 

Setting up Chromebooks – Part 1
Saturday, October 18th, 2014 | Author:

As mentioned in a previous post, we have just purchased over 100 Chromebooks. These have been a winner so far and the feedback has been fantastic. I have had questions via Twitter asking how we manage them and what you get for the Chrome Management License fee (it costs £19). So I thought I would write a post explaining the chromebook setup process.

Please Note: This post assumes that you are using Google Apps within your school. This is pretty cheap (under £10 a year and a few hours setup time) and will help to organise everything you do with Google and the Chromebooks. There are many posts on the index page about Google Apps or contact me if you want some help.

 

After the chromebooks are unboxed and charged, the first step is to turn them on by lifting the lid. They will look for the WiFi and you can then connect, add proxy settings and choose language etc.

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Once connected, the Chromebook will search for the latest version of Chrome and for any updates.

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Once that is done, there is the option to sign-in. This is the crucial step. If you sign-in here, the Chromebook will not be attached to your domain meaning that it will act as a standalone device rather than one you can control and manage. So press CTRL ALT E to get to the enterprise login screen instead.

Here’s a bit more info from Google if you need it.

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Enterprise enrolment screen:  2014-09-29 16.34.35

 

From here, login as any user within your domain. I always use an admin account, but I don’t think you need to. It’s just that my account is admin, so it makes sense to login as me rather than someone else.

 

The Chromebook will “enrol” on to your domain. This takes around 30seconds, depending on Wifi signal.

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Success! It found your domain and when you look on your management dashboard, this device will be there.

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You will now be presented by a login screen and if you look at the bottom, it says that the device is now managed by ridersapps.co.uk (our school domain).

 

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You can now log in as any user within your domain and it will pick up the settings you have assigned. Deciding which settings to assign is all explained in this post here.

ICT in my school Part 2
Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 | Author:

Following on from my last post where I talked about our ICT journey and where we had come from, this post will discuss our approach to Chromebooks.

I have had a Chromebook at home, as well as desktop PCs, for about 3 years. I must say that it was a freebie for doing some stuff for Google, I’m not sure if I’d have bought it myself. Over the past few years it has lived under the living room coffee table and is always there should we need to do something quickly. It turns on in seconds and the internet is there.

For those that haven’t seen them, Chromebooks are devices that look like “normal” laptops, but rely very much on the internet to access anything and to work properly. Yes, you can do some things offline, but you wouldn’t. I tried to do some work on the train once and ended up opening a glorified post-it note app and then copying the text out later when I had WiFi.  If you can guarantee internet signal, then you’re onto a winner. I’m sure the offline side has got better recently, I’ve just not needed it since.

The devices run the Chrome operating system, turn on in around 10 seconds and then to log-in, you simply enter your Google login. They generally last 6-7 hours and can be charged in around an hour too.

In school, we have 60 Toshiba touchscreen laptops and I am not a fan of them. The pad for the mouse is sooooo sensitive it ends up getting turned off so that the children use the touchscreen instead. This provides issues now and again, but some teachers seem to like them. My issue was that I wanted lots of devices across the school so that we could really ramp up the opportunities for the children. I had used Chromebooks before, I’d borrowed some from C-Learning in my previous school and seen how easy they were to manage. If they ever go wrong, you wipe them and factory reset them within 10minutes. I’ve only ever had 1 device get that bad. So after all the positives, I took the plunge and ordered 60 Chromebooks and 3 trolleys to put them in.

As I said earlier, when logging in to the Chromebooks, there is the question of signing in with a Google Apps account. We now all have those through Google Apps so the pupils can be switched on and logged in within a minute. One thing to be aware of is that there is the option of paying £19 per Chromebook to purchase a Chrome management license. This adds your Chromebook to your Google Apps domain and gives you control. Think of it like a regular server managing your laptops. I can control the WiFi, proxy, power settings, default homepage and much more from one control panel rather than from each device. The console also manages updates. Ours are set to update over the course of a week so all devices don’t update at the same time and slow own the bandwidth. I wouldn’t consider buying Chromebooks for school without the £19 license!

In school, we have started to dabble with Google Apps. I mean I have used it in previous schools and I am a Google Certified Trainer, but with so many other things happening at school, this is a slow, measured approach. We started with giving everyone access to the calendar which despite being in place for almost a year, has only taken off this term. We have now given all pupils a Google email and will start using other tools soon. A few classes have been using Google Docs and children are excited by the collaboration opportunities that it provides.

So, what are the downsides so far?

  • Publisher – People always want an alternative to Publisher
  • Printing – Our Sharp printers don’t like the Chromebooks – For the few times we will print, the children can share the document with teachers who have a Windows desktop and we can print from there
  • Everything is online. Our laptops have links on the desktop so that pupils can access certain tools and websites. We have had to be more creative with how we do that. I have a solution and that’s for another blog post!
  • It takes longer to  type the login e.g. iaddison@ridersapps.co.uk than it does to type iaddison to logon to the Windows machines. But the extra 30seconds here is saved as the machine is on in 10 seconds.

We have had them in school since the start of September and so far it is all going well. They are used for simple thing so far, but that will change as we begin to show staff the possibilities.

Oh, did I mention the price? The Samsung Chromebooks we bought were £168 including the license. Bargain. (We actually just managed to buy 45 more Chromebooks that were on offer at £134 each)

If you are looking to purchase Chromebooks, I would suggest talking to C-Learning. As far as I am aware, they are the only company that will lend out Chromebooks for users to test for free (although I must also point out that I run training courses for them too from time to time)

The next step after chromebooks involved looking for tablet devices. That blog post is here.

Google Apps FAQs
Saturday, May 25th, 2013 | Author:

As a Google Apps Certified Trainer, I often get questions about how we have used Google Apps or how we have managed the rollout within school so I thought it would be sensible to share some of the questions I have been asked recently and a few answers too.  Feel free to share these if they are useful. If you have any questions, please contact me and I’ll add them to the list.

 

Is it possible to track emails that are sent using Google Apps?

Yes. But there are a few words of caution. All email that is sent can be seen by the administrator. They can do this by going to Reports> Email Log. This will show that person A sent an email to person B but will not reveal the contents (although the email subject is shown).

To track actual messages, there is a way of doing it using the Content Compliance tool. This is accessed via Settings>Gmail>Click an organization and then content compliance. We set this up in school but, apart from during the testing phase, we have not used it at all. The way that this works is that any email sent to or from our domain (@stjohnsapps.co.uk) that contains the “@” symbol is forwarded to an account called “trackedmail@stjohnsapps.co.uk”. If there was ever a need to find out the exact details of a message sent between two people, this email account could be accessed and the emails could be found. As I said, we have not done this and this has been in place since early 2012.

This obviously then has implications as the administrator may be a teacher or network manager and could then access emails that are sent by pupils, but also by the senior leadership team. It is therefore worth pointing this out to all users before they use the email. However, this could, and should, form part of your training and policy documents when you start your Google Apps use within school.

In reality, the best way to monitor emails between pupils is to involve them in the process and teach them to be safe. So if Child A sends an inappropriate email to child B, it will be in A’s sent items and B’s inbox. A may try to delete it from their sent folder and their trash, but B will still have a copy. They should be taught to show this or, better yet, forward this to their teacher or the appropriate adult in charge. This can then be dealt with as necessary.

In my experience, it is often head teachers and governors that want to know if gmail can be tracked. So the answer is yes, but with some effective teaching, you won’t need to use those tools very much at all.

 

How do I make email safer?

There is a way of “locking down” the email so that it can only be sent between users of your domain. This is done via Settngs>Gmail>Click the organization and then restrict delivery. Simply add your domain e.g. @stjohnsapps.co.uk to the list and then that chosen organization (year group) can only send and receive emails from users with email addresses that end in @stjohnsapps.co.uk

This can also be used to enable emails from certain tools. For example, we use Popplet in school but when the children forget their Popplet password, they can click a link in Popplet and it will email them with instructions to reset their password. This is possible because I have enabled emails from @popplet.com too.

The Settings link here has more information.

Can I just use Google Apps with 1 class if I want to try it out?

Of course but I would still suggest asking permission or at least informing others within your school. It will work just as well with one class as it will with all of the classes but you need to check with senior leaders first so that they are aware in case there are any parents that have questions or concerns. One other thing I would suggest is to set it up as if the whole school will come on board soon. For example, don’t set-up a domain called “Mraddisonyear4.com” as you will have to choose another domain name if/when other teachers decide to use it too.

 

How do we manage passwords for pupils and staff?

Every pupil from Year 3 upwards has an account and they are given a default password (usually password) when their accounts are created. In one of their first lessons using Google Apps, they are taught how to change it and manage their password.

For teachers, they are also given a default password when they start and they are also shown how to change it. I tend not to get them to “force change at first login” because I think it is better to show them how to change the password at all times, rather than just the first time they log in.

I also have this link: https://www.google.com/accounts/EditPasswd saved on our main page so that users can change the password at all times.

A blog post on password security is here.

 

Do I need to ask permission from parents before I start using Google Apps?

The Google Apps terms to state:

Customer acknowledges and agrees that it is solely responsible for compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, including, but not limited to, obtaining parental consent concerning collection of students’ personal information used in connection with the provisioning and use of the Services by the Customer and End Users.

We do allow parents to remove their children from using Google (or any service) if they wish, but we haven’t had to do this yet.

 

How should I inform parents about Google Apps?

As with blogging and a a few other things in school, I suggest telling them via a short note in the end of week newsletter saying that you are using Google Apps and your children might mention email addresses etc and tell them that you will let them know more later. Then 6-8 weeks later, hold a parents meeting to showcase what you’ve been doing. Some schools want to do the parents event first, but I think that it is better to wait a while and show what you have been doing rather than show them when you haven’t done anything yet.

 

How do I make a homepage (like this one – www.stjohnsapps.co.uk)

I simply used Google Sites and made a page. On this page I put links to the tools that we used within school and then made this page available to others. You could make it so that the site was only accessible for users that are signed in to their gmail account, but I have decided to make it public so that others can see it too.

I also put a link to it on our school website here.

The techy bit is directing the domain name “www.stjohnsapps.co.uk” to the google site. This isn’t necessary, it’s mainly just for me to access it quickly. Most traffic comes via our school website.

 

What happens if the children email everyone?

It is possible, and probably suggested, to setup a group called All Users so that you can inform them of updates and changes. I also have groups for staff@ and different classes and year groups, all with email addresses that can be used by anyone. Therefore, there is nothing to stop a child emailing staff@ and sending a message to all teachers. The way around this is to educate the children. Does the message need to be sent? Even if it is to a small group, such as a class of pupils, does everyone need to see it?

A VLE Alternative
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 | Author:

**This isn’t all finished yet, but I’ve been asked to post my progress so far – it also gives chance for feedback!**

This post was started because many schools in Hampshire are looking for ways in which they can remove their VLE and use an alternative. So I thought I would put together a post based on the common tools within a VLE, particularly the one used in Hampshire, and then give some ideas of alternatives. Many of these alternatives will be Google Apps-based or blog-based, but there are also others too.

The main thing to remember is that choosing a variety of tools is going to take more work than buying a VLE with all of the tools built-in. However, the obvious benefit to using other tools will be cost. Many of the tools used will be free but there is the obvious cost of time in setting up some of these tools and configuring them to meet your needs. Over the coming weeks, these pages will get updated to include how-to guides and videos.

The plan is that this post will develop into something I can share with schools if they decide to drop their VLE and are looking for alternatives.

For help with blogging or Google Apps, feel free to contact me for further advice. To setup Google Apps yourself, use the guide here or just get an overview here.

Some common tasks and VLE tools:

If you have any tools that could be added to these pages, please let me know so that I can add them on.

 

Following on from Part 1 which looked at registering and setting up the domain for Google Apps, this post will discuss how to configure your domain to get it up and running. Click on a link below to open a Google Document that can then be downloaded or printed as required. I would suggest going through them in the order they are listed.

**Edit 20th June 2013 There has been a change to the Google Apps Dashboard, the new help guides are indicated below. Current Google Apps Users may find that they have the old admin dashboard for a while yet. I will leave both guides available until further notice. **

Creating Organizations and Uploading Users (New Guide) – This includes how to create the CSV/Excel file to upload users in bulk.

Adding Users 1 at a time (New Guide)

Creating Groups (New Guide) – Useful if you want to email a whole class or all staff at once

Choosing which services to enable (New Guide) – Google Apps provides access to lots of services, you might not want them all enabled.

Settings (New Guide) – Choosing which settings are enabled/configured for the different Google Apps tools.

Google Apps Marketplace (New Guide) – Adding Apps from the Marketplace

Advanced Tools and Reports (New Guide) – Not really used by most people, but useful to see what is there.

Part 3 will follow soon, this will look at what to do now that you have Google Apps all setup and running.

 

Top 5 Posts of 2012
Friday, December 28th, 2012 | Author:

Before writing a review of 2012, which will take a bit of thought, I thought I would share the top 5 posts on this blog throughout the whole of 2012. What this top 5 does show is that all of these posts are over a year old (the BETT one is 4 days from its first birthday). This appears to be because it takes a while to build an audience. The Bett Show post is 6/7th on Google’s search page for “Bett Show Tips” and search for Digital Leaders and my tag is 4th on the results page. Another thing that the most popular posts show is that the ‘how-to/guide’ type posts seem to get more hits than the reflection-type posts. Maybe teachers are looking for people to show them how to implement these tools in their classroom.

But hey, I’m just glad that anyone finds these posts useful!

Top 5 for 2012…

1. Bett for Beginners

This will be re-produced and updated in the coming days, but for now, the 2012 BETT guide is the most popular blog post on the site. This post gives a few tips and hints to getting the most out of the annual BETT show.

 

2. How to Get Started with Google Apps for Education

Another post getting an update and a revamp is the guide to setting up Google Apps for Education. This has been popular since it was written and this year alone has had just under 5,000 views. I have started re-writing it to take recent changes into account and that should be due in early 2013.

 

3. Come and have a #ukedchat

This post is getting quite old now, but it gives a very brief overview of ukedchat, the weekly twitter discussion forum. There have probably been many more posts about it which are better and more up-to-date, but this still had 3,000 hits this year!

 

4. Primary Digital Leaders

Written in December 2010, this post laid out the plans for Digital Leaders in my school. This all started after a discussion with Chris Mayoh and Dawn Hallybone at a Microsoft event in November 2010. We had just seen Daniel Stucke talk about his digital leaders and we planned a few ways forward for our own schools too.

 

5. Manga High – an overview

With 2,500 hits this year, this post gives an insight into Manga High which used to an expensive online resource but for the past 18months or so has been free. My children love using it and it really challenges them to think quickly.