Like many schools, we have some older Windows PCs in our library and in other locations which aren’t running as fast as our users would like and need to be refreshed or replaced. We have several carts of Chromebooks in use, which are working great, but haven’t yet purchased Chrome Device management licenses for them to deploy and enforce user policies. Up to this point our students have just logged into the Chromebooks as “guest” users and then had their account details deleted from the Chromebook after they log out. We’re just starting to experiment a bit with Google Chromeboxes too. In this post, I want to share what I learned getting Google CloudPrint configured to work with one of our leased Canon copier/printers in the library, as well as a Chromebox we setup in the library to replace an aging Windows PC and function primarily as a student workstation for printing. The option of replacing an aging Windows PC with a Chromebox can be cost effective, since it allows organizations to repurpose existing PC monitors, keyboards and mice and simply replace a CPU with a sleek, “boot up in 8 seconds” Chromebox PC for around $150 to $250, depending on how much RAM is wanted. If this information proves useful to you, please let me know by sharing a Twitter reply to @wfryer or by adding a comment below.
If you’re purchasing Chrome devices (Chromebooks or Chromebox computers) for school, it’s a good idea to simultaneously purchase Chrome Device management licenses for each one at the same time. These generally cost $25 per device, and is a lifetime license for educational users. If purchasing through a reseller the cost might be slightly more, like $26.50 per device. Contact the Chrome for Education Sales Team at Google for more information. You also want to enroll in Google Apps for Education (GAFE) if you’re using Chromebooks or Chromeboxes. GAFE is free, and can provide each one of your students as well as faculty/staff members with a Google account that can be managed depending on your school policies and preferences. Our school adopted Google Apps about 4 years ago, ditching Microsoft Exchange Server and embracing Google’s cloud services including Gmail and Google Drive / Docs / Sheets / Slides etc. If you do NOT purchase Chrome Device management licenses, you’ll be unable to manage a Chromebox or Chromebook as I describe in this post. Google Cloud Print access can be granted, but only on a per-user basis, not to specific device(s). For this reason, I consider Chrome Device management licenses to be essential in enterprise / school IT settings.
If you’re deploying Google Chrome devices and want to give users the ability to print, you need to setup Google CloudPrint. Some printers, like the Brother MFC-J4420DW multi-function printer/copier/scanner we now use at home, are Google CloudPrint ready. This means out of the box, it can be configured to work with Google CloudPrint. Other printers, like our leased Canon printer/copiers at school, are NOT ready for Google CloudPrint, however. (In Google CloudPrint parlance, this makes them “Classic Printers.”) In this situation, a separate computer needs to be setup to function as as a print server which is connected to Google CloudPrint. The Google Apps Administrator help page, “Google Cloud Print services” provides a good overview of these options.
Since our library Canon printer/copier isn’t Google CloudPrint ready, I used the Google Apps Administrator Help page, “Set up Google Cloud Print on a Windows print server” to add Windows Print Server as a service on one of our Windows 2012 school servers. I then added the library Canon printer/copier by IP address as a local printer to that Windows server. After both those steps, I was ready to download and install Google Cloud Print Service for Windows. This service acts as a software bridge between Google Cloud Print and the networked printer.
At this point with this setup, I was able to successfully print from a Chrome device to the Canon printer/copier, but I had to either directly share access to the printer via Google CloudPrint settings (sharing it like a Google Doc by using an individual user’s Google email) or by making the Google CloudPrinter PUBLIC. In this latter case, a hyperlink was provided which anyone could click on to add the Google CloudPrinter to their Google account. A limit on the number of pages which could be printed per day was also an option (a daily print quota), but this is NOT the setup I wanted for our students in the library. Not only would this be cumbersome to have to ask each student to click a hyperlink and add a cloud printer to their Google account, it would also give students access to the printer from their Google account from ANY location, even at home. We don’t want students sending print jobs to our library printer/copier from their houses, either on purpose or accidentally, so this wasn’t a configuration that would scale to work with students.
Enter “Chrome Device management licenses.” I purchased two from a Chromebook reseller we work with, and it was added to our GAFE Admin portal when I clicked on DEVICES. To start using the license, however, I had to ENROLL the Chromebox as an authorized device managed within our GAFE domain. The Google support page, “Enroll Chrome Devices,” provides detailed step-by-step instructions for how to do this. Since we had been using the Chromebox and logging into it before enrolling it, however, I had to Wipe Device Data from the Chromebox first and then enroll it. This took 5 to 10 minutes, as we had to hold down the reset button and press some special keyboard key combinations to restart the device in developer mode and finally get the enrollment screen to appear.
After enrolling the Chomebox as a managed device within our GAFE domain, I was able to find “Manage Google Cloud Printers” within the device management settings.
I was then able to select the desired Google Cloud Printer which I’d configured earlier on our server. Victory!
After finishing this configuration on the Chromebox, I asked one of our students to login and verify the Google Cloud Printer was available and he could print to it successfully. It was and he could, so this setup and configuration (at least for now) was complete!
I’m interested in further exploring the options to setup a Chromebox as a “Public Session Kiosk.” I don’t know that we need to set that up for our library users, but it would be good to learn more about what benefits that would have (likely from an auto-logout security standpoint) over our new/current configuration.
That’s all I have to share about Google Device Management and configuring Google CloudPrint for now. Please let me know if this information is helpful to you, or if you have other perspectives or experiences about this you’d like to share.
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