This Week in Technology [WK 14]

This week in technology, we’re starting the spring state testing around the district using Chromebooks. We’re doing things a bit differently this year, and we think it’s an improvement for all. Here’s what we do…

Past Practice

In the past, our Chromebooks were managed in groups in our Google Domain, in ‘buckets’ called organizational units, or OUs. Each device belonged to a specific group, and during testing, we would put one or multiple OUs into testing mode by enabling the AIR Secure Browser application to auto launch using kiosk mode.

Kiosk mode allows only that one application to run, and the Chromebook can’t be used for other things until it’s taken out of kiosk mode – something only we could do from the IT side of the house.

Needless to say, devices stayed in testing mode for way too long, and managing which OUs were in test mode, and which weren’t, was a pain. Students didn’t have access to a regular Chromebook during the testing window, and resources went underutilized by all. Not a great setup…

The Fix

We enabled what we call ‘selective kiosk mode’ for all Chromebooks, and load the AIRSecureTest application for all devices, but let users activate it on a needs basis.

Now, anyone can start the secure application for testing when they need it, and use the Chromebook like normal the rest of the time.

How To Setup Selective Kiosk Mode

This may arguably be for Google Admins and fellow IT folks only, but gives a good insight into what we do to make the rockets launch around here…

Step 1Create a parent OU for all Chromebooks / devices you’ll use for testing, and make sure all sub-OUs are set to inherit the settings.

Step 2 – In Device Management > Chrome > Device Settings navigate to your designated parent OU (from step 1), then to the Kiosk Mode settings.

Allow the Public Kiosk session, but don’t auto-launch it (which is what we did before).

Admin Console Device Settings for Kiosk Mode

Step 3Manage the apps you’ll allow to run in kiosk mode. We have three, but look to add more in the future as they become available, since kiosk mode disables the ability to access any other function, or get to a browser for Google help during an exam.

Kiosk Apps

Step 4Communicate to your users about the new change. See my example from last week about this very change. Make sure teachers and kids know how it works, and be in the building on day one with testing to assist if needed.

We continue to look for ways of making technology easier to use, especially during high stakes events like the state testing.

We hope this change takes some of the stress off. It certainly has for us, since kids and teachers can use the devices for normal instruction immediately after testing is completed for that day.

Forging ahead,

-Andreas

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