If you are pivoting your classroom technology from a cart base or stay at school model to a take-home situation, one of the most common concern that has come up is:
What settings should we have in place now that we’re primarily a take home program?
One of the major benefits of Google Workspace for Education and Chrome profiles is that the settings follow the account. With this in mind, administrators can rest easy knowing that when users are signing in with their managed accounts on unmanaged devices or Chrome browser sessions, users will receive the same user policies as though they were on managed devices. However, users can opt out if the browser sign-in setting is not set to Force users to sign-in to use the browser.
This setting forces Chrome Sync to be enabled for users and ensures that settings configured in the Admin console applied to Chrome Browser on PC/Mac/Linux and Android all have the same applicable policies applied.
Aside from making sure that users are getting the policies applied wherever they login, we need to make sure that Chromebooks, which were originally not leaving the school property, are now able to access the internet from student’s homes. The network general settings page allows admins to restrict which networks automatically connect or completely block users from accessing a network (after the sign-in screen). These settings are very common in schools where devices never go home, but can create havoc when setting up a remote learning environment.
Moving down the list of settings to be aware of are a couple of settings in the user & browser settings of the Admin console. These specific settings are designed around recent security updates the Chromium team has made to third-party cookies. With version 80 of Chrome, web developers needed to update how they handled cookies from third parties. The issue is that not all educational websites have made the move to the new behavior. As a result, when users try to sign in to a site with the Google button, nothing happens.
If you happen to know which sites are causing this issue, the responsible thing to do is raise it to the developers' attention. Administrators can allowlist this behavior on a per-site basis, which would be the preferred manner of reverting to the legacy behavior. However, with everything else which has been happening, and IT admins wanting to enable learning for students, more often than not the blanket behavior is chosen, and all sites are opted to legacy behavior.
While in the cookies section of the user settings page, just above the SameSite cookie behavior is an administrative option to force allowing cookies for certain sites. While blocking cookies on Google sites can cause serious issues, including problems which would open the opportunity for a user to be not signed in on a portion of the browser, adding Google and YouTube to the Allowed cookies list is prudent.
There are several other settings which could be considered in this list of considerations when moving to a take-home model. A handful of configurations to consider from the device settings would be the sign-in screen behavior, update restrictions, or app-controlled updates. Each of these settings impact the end user’s experience before they sign-in to their managed devices. Offline syncing is another helpful setting in the user & browser settings and allows students access to their data, even when they may not have reliable internet.
Having a central focus on users rather than devices has enabled Google Workspace to remain agile and has allowed administrators to make these changes on the fly, even after devices have been sent home to work with students. If you have additional questions on settings or device management, connect with your regional account manager to coordinate training or support.