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1019 posts

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# 255477 13-Aug-2019 22:20
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Hi.

 

My eldest son begins Intermediate School next year. We have the option to apply to have him in the Digital Learning Class, this class requires a chromebook.

 

Since they are fairly locked down devices, i.e. basically a browser online and now, I believe, can run android apps too, what practical IT skills could one learn with a Chromebook? I'm not knocking Chromebooks, I persuaded my mum, who is in her 60s, to buy one for web access.

 

We have a Windows PC at home and at various times have had a Linux PC too, I can understand using these or an Apple computer to learn IT skills, but I struggle to see what he will learn with a Chromebook that he won't already learn from using our home computer, Android phone and iPhone. When he was 9 he taught himself to program in Scratch. I'm inclined to buy him Windows/Linux/Apple laptop or Raspberry Pi to muck around with at home and let him teach himself more advanced things. He has been using Chromebooks and other devices at his primary school for years. He really is OS agnostic. Could someone enlighten me as to how using a Chromebook could be beneficial for his future beyond what he'll learn at home anyway?

 

We have the option to buy or lease the Chromebooks, so they won't be school property. Incidentally, the school wants $100 per year to administer his Chromebook, plus they express the right to access his emails and files at any time, not only during school time. Has anyone else had these or similar requests from their kid's school? I'm not happy about either since they don't own the device and I don't see why I should pay them $100 to do their job.

 

I'm going to a parents evening at the school tomorrow night so I'm going to ask more there.

 





 

 

 

 

 

 


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  # 2297763 13-Aug-2019 23:38
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My daughter has BYOD Chromebook for Junior High and it is for research and producing documents etc using GSuite. They aren't for "IT" skills such as programming etc, they have a separate lab for that.

 

Personally I'm pleased they prefer Chromebooks as they are relatively inexpensive and harder to hack than a Windows or Mac device. In addition they standard school supplier includes a 3 year repair warranty.





Generally known online as OpenMedia, now working for Red Hat APAC a Technology Evangelist and Product Manager. Still playing with MythTV and digital media on the side.


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  # 2297768 14-Aug-2019 00:14
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SSH is available, and I believe the pixel books and maybe a few others have a Linux shell available. 

 

The place I work is looking at giving out chromebooks to staff. We are GSuite customers, any legacy systems will be made available via AppStream.

 

I believe there is a device licence fee you have to pay to google so the school may well just be passing that on, not sure if that is still a thing for an Edu setup.

 

I don't see an issue with the school having access to a school email address/drive setup. It's no different to a workplace setup IMO.


 
 
 
 


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  # 2297807 14-Aug-2019 08:14
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Kiwifruta:

 

We have the option to buy or lease the Chromebooks, so they won't be school property. Incidentally, the school wants $100 per year to administer his Chromebook, plus they express the right to access his emails and files at any time, not only during school time. Has anyone else had these or similar requests from their kid's school? I'm not happy about either since they don't own the device and I don't see why I should pay them $100 to do their job.

 

I'm going to a parents evening at the school tomorrow night so I'm going to ask more there.

 

 

I'd have major issues with this (probably because Im a geek).

 

Administer what ? Updates that get pushed out anyway ?

 

Make sure there is two accounts on the Chromebook - one for the school (prob using a school supplied Gmail account) and a personal one for his own stuff. The school will only be checking via Google Drive etc, so can only see whats stored in the school profile.

 

Friend had a kid with a laptop used for school, gave it to me to clean up as was running slow etc, found the teacher had themselves logged into the Chrome profile, so they could see browser history etc that the kid was doing. It also worked the other way tho, the kid could send emails as the teacher etc.  I removed it and advised the parent to speak with the teacher.

 

I also emailed the teacher and advised them of what I had found and how to avoid it - it may have been a purely innocent mistake. But sounds like it wasnt a mistake and the teacher was seen rather upset later that week and it was to do with IT matters.....





XPD / Gavin / DemiseNZ

 

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  # 2297814 14-Aug-2019 08:58
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xpd:

 

Kiwifruta:

 

We have the option to buy or lease the Chromebooks, so they won't be school property. Incidentally, the school wants $100 per year to administer his Chromebook, plus they express the right to access his emails and files at any time, not only during school time. Has anyone else had these or similar requests from their kid's school? I'm not happy about either since they don't own the device and I don't see why I should pay them $100 to do their job.

 

I'm going to a parents evening at the school tomorrow night so I'm going to ask more there.

 

 

I'd have major issues with this (probably because Im a geek).

 

Administer what ? Updates that get pushed out anyway ?

 

Make sure there is two accounts on the Chromebook - one for the school (prob using a school supplied Gmail account) and a personal one for his own stuff. The school will only be checking via Google Drive etc, so can only see whats stored in the school profile.

 

Friend had a kid with a laptop used for school, gave it to me to clean up as was running slow etc, found the teacher had themselves logged into the Chrome profile, so they could see browser history etc that the kid was doing. It also worked the other way tho, the kid could send emails as the teacher etc.  I removed it and advised the parent to speak with the teacher.

 

I also emailed the teacher and advised them of what I had found and how to avoid it - it may have been a purely innocent mistake. But sounds like it wasnt a mistake and the teacher was seen rather upset later that week and it was to do with IT matters.....

 

 

 

 

I'd do the same thing as you.

 

The school says they'll need to install either Meraki or Hapara software, I'm fine with those. If there are paid licences for those that I need to pay for too, I'm happy with that also.

 

See what tonight unveils.

 

 

 

 


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  # 2298817 14-Aug-2019 09:30
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They learn how to use Google efficiently? Fairly key skill for an IT pro I would say.


xpd

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  # 2298894 14-Aug-2019 10:02
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chevrolux:

 

They learn how to use Google efficiently? Fairly key skill for an IT pro I would say.

 

 

Not for a school IT support though unfortunately. I've come across many schools with in-house IT support, and the only reason they seem to get the job is because they're a relative of someone on the school board, and they once installed a stick of RAM in a PC.

 

When you start looking at their processes and infrastructure, its scary.

 

 





XPD / Gavin / DemiseNZ

 

Server : i5-3470s @ 3.50GHz  16GB RAM  Win 10 Pro    Workstation : i5-3570K @ 3.40GHz  20GB RAM  RX580 4GB Win 10 Pro    Console : Xbox One

 

https://www.xpd.co.nz - Games, emulation, geekery, and my attempts at photography.     Now on BigPipe 100/100 and 2Talk

 

Emulation - The art of getting your $4000 PC to run an 80's system - and still fails.

 

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Master Geek


  # 2298895 14-Aug-2019 10:02
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School will probably have some servers set-up with labs or similar either on-site or on G-Cloud - so students are likely white listed for access to those via the Chromebooks from the school's network.

 

Dunno what the big brother policies are about - access to email is an interesting one - perhaps some misguided attempt to stop cyber-bullying or similar?

 

In terms of what they could learn, pretty much anything - very little I do day to day is actually done on the client computer I use - everything's cloud or at least server hosted these days - the days of needing a powerful computer to 'code' are long gone.

 

Even if it's just general computing skills (that kids seem to pick up in zero seconds flat in my experience) - use of the GSuite productivity apps alone is probably worth the price of admission - they'll be using word processing/spreadsheet apps for most of their academic and working life.

 

The $100 admin fee seems a bit suss tho - 'voluntary fee' by another name in my opinion.


 
 
 
 


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Master Geek


  # 2298942 14-Aug-2019 10:38
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Most newer Chromebooks support Android apps as well as a Linux container (Debian) with support for GUI applications. However, the school might block access to these (Android apps are blocked by default under Chrome management whereas I believe Linux needs to be explicitly blocked by the school). Regarding Chrome management, access to emails and files will most likely be referring to the school provided G Suite account (so his school Gmail and Google Drive). The school can apply policies to that account that apply to Chrome when signed into that account (note that Chrome will automatically sign you into Chrome if you log into Google through the web now, but also if you log into the G Suite account Google search and YouTube will be under that account, so if you're concerned make sure he used a seperate Chrome profile for school work). Regarding the Chromebook itself, Google's Chromebook management licenses are now free for state and state-integrated schools, but as you said they are using an additional management service, so that will be what the $100 is for. The school will be able to do things like restrict sign-in on the Chromebook to only school accounts (they can also do this only during school hours, allowing other accounts outside of these hours), prevent the device form being unenrolled etc. Also, many schools use SSL interception these days, so their Root CA will most likely be installed by Chrome management (this is normally done through N4L's system, so unless they're running their own web filtering system they won't be able to do things like steal login credentials). They most likely will be able to see web activity over their network (what sites, URLs and what user). They could also use 3rd party screen monitoring software. They could also run the internet connection through a VPN to apply web filtering even outside of the school network if they really wanted to. I'm not saying they will do any of these things (I know the school I went to intentionally does not Chrome manage student owned devices, despite having free Chrome Management licenses), but a lot of schools do some or most of these things. If you're paranoid, the rule of don't use any personal accounts on any school owned or managed computer or over their network applies. You can always talk to the school's IT person to find out more about what they do, and look into Chrome Management for more about what can be done.

 

As a side note, Chromebooks do have a developer mode (this isn't available on managed devices, so isn't applicable here) that gives root access to the device. There are custom Linux distributions for Chromebooks (either dual boot or run in a chroot) and the firmware on the device itself is open source and can actually be overwritten (after either opening the device to remove a write-protect screw or on newer Chromebooks with the security chip, buying a special USB-C to USB-A debug cable and sitting in front of the thing for 10 minutes hitting the power button every so often when prompted, this is to prevent people hacking your Chromebook when you leave it unattended, even putting it into developer mode takes 10 minutes and wipes the device, but you can't do anything in developer mode that can't be undone through ChromeOS recovery). I personally used a Chromebook for a couple of years as a secondary device (in developer mode, this was before the Linux container option which is sandboxed and doesn't require developer mode) and despite being slow (most of them have a low powered laptop Celeron chip in them) and with limited internal storage (16GB in my case, but 32GB or 64GB is becoming more common) it was a perfectly usable Linux laptop for a technically competent person, and I could switch between Ubuntu and ChromeOS with a keystroke or install command line utilities into ChromeOS itself. For a locked down device, they are actually more open then people think (all hidden behind a scary warning screen of course).




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  # 2299482 14-Aug-2019 21:36
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Went to the parent evening, really nice school and kids. There is a special Digital learning meeting next week. Seems like the Google management thing can be configured to only work at school or during school hours, which seems fair enough and be set just for his school Google account, as mentioned above.

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  # 2299493 14-Aug-2019 22:19
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Students will get a school email address (= Google account) which is what the school will control. Many students by the time they arrive at intermediate will have their own personal addresses which schools won't have access to. Just like your normal workplace really (as mentioned above). As a teacher in an intermediate school, I think Chromebooks (or iPads as an alternative option) are a good classroom tool. They aren't supposed to be a good 'hacking' device (like the Pi and so on). They need to be reliable (in the sense that a student should be able to pick up a device and be able to get on with their work at hand straight away) so makes sense that a locked down device is provided to ensure students can always use it and the correct apps are always provisioned and ready to use. Hacking friendly machines like the Pi will be prone to breaking etc and as such probably best used during classes specifically for hacking and/or home use.




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  # 2299496 14-Aug-2019 22:30
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So are they used to write out assignments, create presentations etc?

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  # 2299532 15-Aug-2019 08:05
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Yeah, the teachers will generally use Google Drive to put assignments etc and kids save their work to their own Google Drive which the teachers have access to, to assess the work etc. Its a great system when its used properly.

 

 





XPD / Gavin / DemiseNZ

 

Server : i5-3470s @ 3.50GHz  16GB RAM  Win 10 Pro    Workstation : i5-3570K @ 3.40GHz  20GB RAM  RX580 4GB Win 10 Pro    Console : Xbox One

 

https://www.xpd.co.nz - Games, emulation, geekery, and my attempts at photography.     Now on BigPipe 100/100 and 2Talk

 

Emulation - The art of getting your $4000 PC to run an 80's system - and still fails.

 

Add me on Steam


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  # 2305451 24-Aug-2019 19:19
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Chromebooks are inexpensive, simple, (read: hard for kids to break), able to be connected to centralised management (remember, when at school the kids are on the school ecosystem, not their own!), monitored (inappropriate surfing not allowed), and importantly - are built to run for a decent amount of time (good battery life) and be relatively robust.

 

 

We bought my daughter a Chromebook (Acer, I forget the variant) when she entered Year 6. She's in Year 9 now, so it's the fourth year, the device is still useful. Her High School are also a Google ecosystem, the battery life is still decent, it's not as heavy as her full-sized laptop (we got her one to use at home, not a flash one, but 'good enough') and because she's had nearly 4 full years, we're not as invested in its survival anymore (if it dies, it was only $300, not $1500+).

 

 

She is now using her full-size laptop for media projects at school (Audacity and such) which means she takes it to school 2 days a week, and on the other days the Chromebook remains the better tool.

 

 

Bottom line, see the device as a method of access to the Schools own Google Suite, not as an IT teaching tool nor as a 'power' device when it comes to the technical aspects of things. While they're young and rough it's good to have an inexpensive device that's 'good enough' and by the way has excellent battery life and isn't too big and heavy.

 

 

BTW both of my kids log into their Chromebooks using their personal Google accounts when at home and not doing schoolwork etc.




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  # 2305783 25-Aug-2019 17:42
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Bugger all. But then school isn't exactly the IT learning centre....especially Intermediate. Back when my son was form 1, he taught the teachers (late '80s)


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  # 2305912 26-Aug-2019 09:12
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pctek: Bugger all. But then school isn't exactly the IT learning centre....especially Intermediate. Back when my son was form 1, he taught the teachers (late '80s)

At least he got something out of it. For me, intermediate school signalled the start of 7 years of boredom and bulls1t.


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