Department for Curriculum and Quality Enhancement

Chromebooks for higher education

Looking to book a Chromebook? DCQE has 30 devices available so please fill in the TEL Chromebook booking form if you would like to use them. 

Just before Christmas 2014, DCQE undertook a pilot with Manish Malik from Technology to investigate the use of Chromebooks to deliver assessments and for in-class interactivities. We learned a lot during the pilot, and we found that people who used them (both staff and students) appreciated their simplicity and speed of use. On that basis, DCQE has purchased the 30 Chromebooks used in the trial. Please read on if you'd like to find out more about Chromebooks. If after reading this you'd like to test one for yourself, please either book a Chromebook training session or contact elearn@port.ac.uk who will explain how you can borrow the devices.

What are Chromebooks?

A Chromebook is in essence just a laptop running ChromeOS as its operating system. Although the devices can be used offline, they are designed to be used primarily whilst connected to the internet. They have excellent battery life, very quick boot times and, because they are designed primarily for cloud-based applications, they are affordable: a Chromebook is typically hundreds of pounds cheaper than a Windows-based laptop.

Who uses Chromebooks?

Chromebooks are making significant inroads into the education sector. Their combination of low price, physical keyboard and easy device management means that Chromebooks are outselling iPads in US schools; in UK schools their use is increasing (the UoP IS department is involved in local projects); and HE institutions are also now investigating their potential.

Chromebooks as a platform for sitting a Moodle Quiz

We have set up two Google admin profiles for the devices, which provides for two different modes of operation. The first admin profile locks down the devices to exam mode. The devices open directly onto an exam landing page – this allows students access to only certain websites and applications (those that appear on a whitelist, the contents of which are under our control). In this mode the device is highly secure, and tests suggest that it performs more reliably than a standard PC running SafeExamBrowser.

Chromebooks are extremely portable, so this opens up the possibility of converting an everyday teaching space into a venue for delivering online exams. The only requirement is that the room has a strong wireless connection. However, if you are thinking about using Chromebooks for delivering a computer-based test, please first contact Stephen Webb or Mike Wilson to discuss the options.

Chromebooks for in-class use

The second admin profile permits the device to be used freely and without restriction. Students have access to their usual Google apps, and the devices can be used for interactive sessions involving, for example, Nearpod or web-based audience response. Please contact Tom Langston if you would like to learn more about these possibilities. We are considering the development of a third admin profile: a restricted mode that blacklists all websites except for those that the lecturer plans to use during the session. A restricted mode would prevent students from visiting unauthorized sites during class.

Project report

You can download the project report from the following link: Chromebooks for assessment and in-class use: a pilot study.

Conclusion

Chromebooks are affordable devices that are particularly useful in an HE environment because of their remote distribution of device policies and software upgrades. They can be used as a smooth, secure and reliable platform for online assessment, and they have great potential as interactive devices in a classroom setting.

Don't forget, DCQE has 30 devices available so please fill in the TEL Chromebook booking form if you would like to use them.