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Hardware Thread, Chromebook Usage in School - Opinions please! in Technical; The DH has just come to me and said that he has been discussing what to provide staff -from a ...
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    witch's Avatar
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    Chromebook Usage in School - Opinions please!

    The DH has just come to me and said that he has been discussing what to provide staff -from a cost and easy to manage point of view. He is keen on Chromebooks and I just wanted a bit of feedback from those who know more that I do.
    I know very little about them other than all the advertising blurb so I would really like some opinions.
    I understand that they can be easily managed using Google Apps for Domains? How would that square with us moving to Office 365 in the near future, or should we be looking at Google Apps instead? Or as well?

    He seems to think there might be an issue with editing Office 2010 docs? Not sure what he means?
    Forgive my ignorance!
    How would it work with some Chromebooks and some normal laptops on the domain?

    Personally I am happy buy second-hand PCs from ICT-Direct as they are very good value.
    Basically we want a fairly fast machine that is mainly to be used for Word, Excel and the internet and webmail.
    thanks
    Last edited by witch; 11th March 2013 at 09:35 AM.

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    ICTDirect_Dave (11th March 2013)

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    I like the idea of them and we are waiting on a trial for our Junior School students to replace netbooks. We already use Google Apps for Education so will fit in well with the system they where being taught. I've never had any issues using Google Drive to edit Office 2010 documents, well converting to Google format then editing. Although excel isn't as good on the Drive system but still more than enough for any of my needs.

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    witch (11th March 2013)

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    Chromebooks are basically a machine running the Chrome browser with some bells and whistles. Everything you run on a day to day basis is a web app. To edit Office documents, they will have to be imported into Google Drive and converted to Google Docs format. This will work for Office 2010 documents but there will be a loss of formatting fidelity, and as you are probably aware, Google Docs is not a fully featured as Office.

    To log on you have to use a Google account, which can be a Google Apps account. There is some management via the Google Apps dashboard.

    They do not join to AD, and I'm pretty sure you cannot connect to Windows network shares.

    In my opinion, if the school is already using Google Apps well, they are a decent option. In almost all other circumstances they require a big change to the way you use IT, which may not be popular.

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    Andie (29th May 2013), witch (11th March 2013)

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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    I understand that they can be easily managed using Google Apps for Domains?
    I believe there is some management at the domain level (Google Apps for Education?).
    How would that square with us moving to Office 365 in the near future, or should we be looking at Google Apps instead? Or as well?
    It would be ...odd... to use two services that do exactly the same thing. We struggle to train teachers to cope with with one!
    He seems to think there might be an issue with editing Office 2010 docs? Not sure what he means?
    Conversion of documents isn't always straightforward where more complex formatting/function is involved and if you have macro's - forget it.
    How would it work with some Chromebooks and some normal laptops on the domain?
    Chromebooks just want an internet connection. There is nothing they can do on a domain (as such).
    Personally I am happy buy second-hand PCs from ICT-Direct as they are very good value.
    Basically we want a fairly fast machine that is mainly to be used for Word, Excel and the internet and webmail.
    The main disadvantage of chromebooks is their need for a network connection. Without one, they are nearly useless. Personally I have some reservations about feeding our staff and children's data to Google in return for 'free' service.

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    witch (11th March 2013)

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    witch's Avatar
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    Thanks
    So it would be a bit of an issue if some staff have them and are working in one way and saving to the cloud, whilst others are connected to the domain as normal and can save to their space on the server, see shared resources etc. Presumably the staff on ordinary laptops would, if they had google apps, be able to see files saved on some sort of shared area in the cloud?
    I have grave reservations about having half one system and half another.
    I would like to know more about this possible issue with Office docs. How easy is this conversion for non-IT literate staff? And the formatting? I don't think they use complicated formatting on word. On Excel, what is the issue with formatting and macros?
    The issue with Office 365 is that SWGfL are offering to convert our webmail to Office 365 - importing all emails etc, free. This would be near impossible for me to do due to time and access constraints.
    Would it be possible to use that just for email and Google apps for everything else?
    I think the DH just wants the shiny shiny. The HT isn't brilliant at IT and will listen to him.
    I am all for innovation but I genuinely cannot see how this would work as we would be buying a handful at a time. If I am wrong, please tell me as I don't want to be all Luddite about it!

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    Conversion is easy enough, just drop a file into my drive and it will open. Formatting losses will depend on what exactly is being used. Macros (without an erroneous apostrophe) just won't work at all. VBA is specific to microsoft as is the office document model. You can do automation tasks with Google Apps but if you have a lot of investment in VBA, it will need to be left behind or re-written (assuming it is possible).

    I guess you could use 365 for mail and google for everything else, but if you have 365 why bother with Google? [Edit - badly expressed, the issue is inefficiency in people dealing with two 'office application' ecosystems].

    We will be trialling google apps for education with students (but parrallell running school and google email accounts). Apps for staff as the only offering will happen over my dead body (which might suit some)!
    Last edited by pcstru; 11th March 2013 at 10:37 AM.

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    Why not signup for a google apps for education account, and see how that works for you. Yoy will then have a better idea of gapps under the hood.

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    witch (11th March 2013)

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    The issue we found with formatting on Word documents is when staff have laid out a document/template for printing. It rarely looks the same as the original, page breaks when you print are often in a different place to on screen, and is different between browsers (it's only ever correct on Google Chrome).

    If you want to print to your shared printers from the Chromebooks, you'll need to use the Google Cloud Print system built in to the Chrome browser. You have to have it configured on a workstation that can see all the network printers, and that workstation needs to be left logged on.

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    witch (11th March 2013)

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    I agree that using Office 365 AND google apps would be not the best way forward but if he wants chromebooks, then we have to have google apps, and SWGfL are only offering free email migration to Office 365 and as I said, I just don't have time to move us myself to anything.
    What opinions do you have on the issue of half the staff having chromebooks and working in the cloud and half not?
    I can only find an office convertor for 2007 and we have 2010?

    *just thought - if the teacher doesn't have a computer at home then they cant print, can they?
    Last edited by witch; 11th March 2013 at 12:25 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    Personally I am happy buy second-hand PCs from ICT-Direct as they are very good value.
    Basically we want a fairly fast machine that is mainly to be used for Word, Excel and the internet and webmail.
    thanks
    They want shiny? How about these?

    http://www.ict-direct.co.uk/laptops-...elitebook.html

    Got a fair number in now

    BTW Keyboard being sorted today! (Lo siento por el envío de un teclado en español!)
    Last edited by witch; 10th May 2013 at 11:57 AM.

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    @witch - what did you do in the end? Did you buy the Chromebooks?
    We are looking at Chromebooks but purely as a quick research tool. Currently we have laptops which are ageing and take forever to boot up so tend not to get used. For those classes that just need to do a quick bit of googling these sound ideal. 6 second boot up. We wouldnt be looking to use the Google Apps as we also have Office365 in the pipeline. 6 to 7 hour battery life is also good.
    I havent managed to find a suitable charging case yet. Ideally want one that is like small suitcase so that it can be wheeled to classrooms when needed. Everyone seems to be selling trolleys.

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    No, we didn't - I amassed all the evidence and SLT could see that they weren't going to be much use to us as we couldnt afford a solution that couldnt integrate on to the network

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    We ended up buying 27 for our junior school and today is the first day being used in anger... will be an interesting day

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    witch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave.81 View Post
    We ended up buying 27 for our junior school and today is the first day being used in anger... will be an interesting day
    So have you locked them down in any way? Internet access presumably? Can you let us know how it goes and what issues you find?
    ta

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    The new admin features or Chrome look quite useful. I have a personal apps account (own domain) and an education one for work. I love the cloud, but I can't bring myself to stop using Office. You simply have so much more power with AD but that's why Microsoft dominates the business market

    Btw my home printer (cheapo HP) has AirPrint and Google Cloudprint so I'm sorted for home printing. Again more flexibility when you manage printers through Windows.

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