Viewing entries in
General

12 Ways K-12 CIOs Use CloudReady

1 Comment

12 Ways K-12 CIOs Use CloudReady

The world of operating systems is changing. 

Microsoft’s Windows has practically dominated the space since 1990, when Windows 3.0 came out. But now Google’s Chrome OS is upending the OS status quo. In just a few years, Chrome OS has gone from nonexistent to totally dominant in U.S. K-12 school districts, making up 70% of new computer shipments in 2018. Now, it is quickly making inroads with large enterprises, government agencies, and other organizations trying to attract and adapt to the next generation of graduates, save money, enhance security, simplify management, and increase reliability, without all of the traditional headaches. Chrome OS has already won early enterprise adopters shifting to the cloud (est. 5% U.S. market share in 2019), and now the early majority are beginning to pile in as the paradigm shifts from Windows and the OS status quo to Chrome OS and doing everything in the browser.

At Neverware, CIOs of school districts ranging from 100 to over 1,000,000 students come to us asking for help transitioning to the cloud - specifically OS help - and they usually have a specific problem they’re trying to solve. But what they come to realize is the paradigm shift with Chrome OS can address a LOT of other issues with their Windows/Mac computing - the cost of refreshing computers, the risk of ransomware attacks, the slow pace of wholesale migration to Chrome OS, the amount of time and effort IT spends supporting the OS status quo, and perhaps most importantly, the time students and teachers waste waiting through slow boot ups, battling through errors, and eye-rolling through lengthy, unexpected updates. Often, they don’t realize it’s an issue until they learn there’s something better.

A bit about our flagship solution: 

CloudReady is an operating system that transforms Windows and Mac computers up to 13 years old (no joke!) into Chromebooks. 

LI-CloudReady-machines.png

Neverware actually guarantees support for this HP Mini 100e model through mid-2023, believe it or not!

 
LI-mini.jpeg
 

And some of the newest ones look like this:

Newer computers that have been converted to Chromebooks using CloudReady

They then behave just like Chromebooks or Chromeboxes for students, teachers, and for IT admins. Students & teachers get faster boot times and better performance (imagine: no more disruptive Windows updates, no freezes/crashes, etc.), and IT eliminates a lot of inefficiencies tied to the OS status quo: 

  • Paying for new computers every 3-5 years

  • Pushing out Group Policy, updates, and security patches

  • Paying for and deploying antivirus and malware software

  • Dealing with endpoint security vendors

  • Handling TONS of helpdesk tickets

  • Reimaging computers

  • Oftentimes, paying to outsource some or all of these

  • Oftentimes, paying to cope with ransomware attacks

These are just a handful of items on the long list of IT responsibilities, though, and solving them can easily fall behind other priorities, especially when some IT admins, teachers, and staff don’t know these are solvable problems, having never worked with anything other than Windows or Mac OS! They don’t know what they don’t know. And those that “get it” might not know how to frame how big an impact Chrome OS/CloudReady can have for their CIO and school district as a whole. 

What would it mean to leave Windows - partially or completely?

After all, it is the OS that everyone has used for the last 25 years!

It takes an open mind and bold leadership from the CIO (and even the superintendent/board) to highlight these inefficiencies, prioritize technology, and tackle them head on - for the benefit of the IT team, students, teachers, and the district’s overall health. If you’re still new to Chromebooks or want some back story on how Google became dominant in K-12 the last few years, here are 4 reasons why Superintendents and CIOs have chosen Chromebooks

And here are 12 ways you can use CloudReady to your advantage as CIO:

1. Save or stretch your budget. 

As CIO, you are under pressure to perform and take on greater and greater responsibility. From digital transformation initiatives to cybersecurity programs, data privacy compliance and physical security, IT supports practically every new initiative in school district today, and it’s dizzying. A couple of CIOs I work with have inherited maintenance responsibilities in their buildings, or work under the policy that if it plugs into an OUTLET, or goes on the network at all, it falls under IT’s responsibility! 

While overall budgets may be increasing for select districts’ IT teams, most are getting squeezed. Even districts that are not actively trying to shrink overall IT costs are expecting investment into new initiatives that drive new student outcomes and therein curtailing legacy infrastructure budgets. CIOs are getting asked to do much more with less, and faster, while totally understaffed. Just ask Hal Friedlander, former CIO for the NYC Department of Education, overseeing IT for over 1.2 million students:

 
 

Or Jeffrey St. Aime, who operates all things Google & IT for Henry County Schools, with 40,000+ students and 40,000+ Chromebooks.

 
 


2. Eliminate end-user obstacles

with faster boot times, better browsing speed, and improved performance. End-users report a 94% decrease in PC downtime normally lost to helpdesk calls, reboots and OS maintenance. As CIO, you are responsible for ensuring the technological productivity of your organization. If students, teachers, and staff can work with greater speed and focus, everyone wins. Technology should get out of their way, never impede them.

 
 

3. Keep Windows 7 computers running, secure and supported after end-of-life (EOL) occurs on Jan 14th, 2020. 

As CIO, you can’t leave Windows 7 computers on Windows 7 - they’re a major security threat on your network and for your district. Upgrading to Windows 10 might be an option, but many Windows 7 computers will not run Windows 10 well, and they might not even fit it on their old, small drives! CloudReady offers you a secure, manageable, and reliable alternative to keep your Windows 7 computers in production for years longer. See how Questar Assessments - a company of 500 people that helps districts across the country with digital testing - does it.

4. Eliminate malware, ransomware and data privacy vulnerabilities. 

Chromebooks are secure by default and cannot launch malware or ransomware. In fact, they’re among the most secure computers out there. As CIO, your superintendent and board are increasingly counting on you to protect the organization from malicious actors and the front page of the newspaper. You can take a giant leap forward by securing your endpoints and student and teacher data with CloudReady.

5. Save your team time. 

IT teams that shift to Chromebooks experience a 78% average drop in helpdesk tickets & never have to update, secure, patch or deploy Group Policy again. As CIO, you then get to decide whether to reduce or repurpose your staff toward more impactful activities that support your teachers and students in new ways.

6. Centralize device management and standardize end-user computing on Chrome. 

As CIO, you want a central view into computers across your organization and control over how they’re used. Google’s Admin console and Chrome device management greatly simplify this for IT and make reporting a breeze.

And students and teachers get a simple interface they already know and love with the Chrome browser. There’s a minimal learning curve, and you can get everyone on the same platform quickly.

7. Increase the useful life of computers (up to 13 years). 

Windows and Mac computers are made to last 3-4 years and then often slow down dramatically. Along with updates come new bloatware (default apps you might not need, background services, etc.), and the cycle perpetuates. It’s a version of planned obsolescence, so that OEMs (Apple, Dell, Lenovo, HP, etc.), resellers, and other service providers stay happy selling new computers, accessories, and services. While some CIOs sweat these assets up to eight or even ten years in rare cases, performance for students and teachers suffers greatly with native OSs, and the computers fall out of compliance with the latest apps and digital testing requirements. 

Kirk Langer at Lincoln Public Schools, an A+ district in Nebraska with 40,000+ students, used CloudReady to extend the useful life of 4,000 Dell Latitude laptops, saving his team support hours in the process.

 
 

CloudReady is made to run on computers up to 13 years old. The OS is designed around efficiency, and modern Chromebook specifications (RAM, storage & processor capability) are remarkably similar to 10-year-old Windows & Mac computers. So the computers run great up until they hit the 13-year mark and even after, allowing CIOs to put off or eliminate costly replacements every 3-4 years. Think your CFO will like that?

8. Easily set up secure kiosks. 

Whether it’s for VDI (Citrix, VMware, Nutanix, etc.), digital signage, sign-in stations, or to lock down computers for high-stakes activities like K-12 state testing, CloudReady and Chromebooks are the easiest way to turn any computer into a secure kiosk

Henry County Schools uses CloudReady for Georgia Milestones Testing (42,000+ students), and CIOs from the largest districts in the country utilize CloudReady and Chromebooks at scale for state testing.

Note: CloudReady is used for state testing in all 50 states and across all major testing platforms (AIR, TestNav, DRC, NWEA, Questar, i-Ready, etc.).

9. Show financial prudence and accountability

to your board, superintendent, CFO, taxpayers, teachers, and parents. When was the last time you gifted them cost savings, productivity boosts, and happier teachers and students that they didn’t expect or realize were possible?

Ramona Loiselle, IT Director at Coronado Unified School District, with ~3,000 students, saved $180,000 with CloudReady and nailed CAASPP testing.

10. Increase good device access 

by getting more computers in student hands, including backups for when kids lose, damage, or leave their computers at home. CIOs know the pain of not having enough computers all too well. Getting 1:1 (one computer per student) is no longer ahead of the curve, it’s the expectationMinimizing the cost and sustaining 1:1 is another story though, and utilizing existing computers helps. CIOs can also turn old, slow, and obsolete computers into good computers that students and teachers want to use again, increasing good access, affordably, all while making it easy for their team. 

Dwayne Alton, Executive Director of IT Infrastructure Services for The School District of Lee County, with 90,000+ students, used CloudReady to increase access, save money and ease the transition from Windows to Chrome at scale.

 
 

11. Establish a long-term, sustainable computer refresh cycle. 

Has your district already budgeted for a refresh in four years, or will it be caught taking cookies from the CapEx cookie jar? As CIO, it makes life easier for everyone when you’ve formulated a long-term plan to keep your computers updated and determined the most appropriate budget well ahead of time. If you can’t quite get where you want today, CloudReady is a great option to bridge the gap. In some cases, CIOs have told us we were even their lifeline, enabling them to get the computers they needed just-in-time and just-within-budget, when they didn’t expect it to be possible.

12. Avoid Chromebook auto-update expiration (AUE). 

CloudReady computers never stop getting updates, and models are supported until 13 years after their release date. With regular Chromebooks, you have to budget for new ones every 5-6 years, at a maximum. 

With CloudReady, you gain the flexibility to sweat your assets as long as you want, and to avoid the effort and cost to actually do a replacement so often. Some CIOs are even buying new and refurbished Windows computers + CloudReady to avoid AUE.

What do you think? Will you swim with the rising tide, or sink with the OS status quo?

Have you checked what districts around you are doing? Have they already begun swimming, or maybe even raced ahead?

 

1 Comment

Key Takeaways from Citrix Synergy

Comment

Key Takeaways from Citrix Synergy

As the dust is finally settling after our very busy and interesting week in downtown Atlanta at Citrix Synergy, we wanted to share some high-level takeaways from the event. While we’d love to talk about our obsession with the electric scooter rentals scattered about downtown, we’ll do our best to keep the focus on our takeaways from the interactions we had at our dedicated CloudReady stand inside the larger Google Chrome Enterprise booth.

Throughout the event, we had the opportunity to talk with hundreds of attendees, partners, vendors, customers and everybody in between about CloudReady’s value in converting organizations’ existing hardware to Chrome OS, and also to listen to many presentations made by Citrix leadership. Our conversations ranged from discussing all sorts of Citrix, VDI, and endpoint configurations, to sharing the news about the launch of our new Chrome Experts community as a public resource for people to come and ask about all things Chrome.

CloudReady’s booth inside Google’s Chrome Enterprise booth.


To commemorate the experience, here are some of the highlights we took back to the Neverware headquarters at crazy old 27th Street in New York City:


Citrix is truly focused on “Delivering the Future of Work.”

Leading up to the event, Citrix’s Chief Marketing Officer, Tim Minihan, shared a post where he wrote, “Increasingly, competitiveness is being determined by how well companies can harness technology to innovate faster and drive new levels of employee engagement and productivity that improve the customer experience and business results.” This was evident throughout all of the keynote announcements and a focus within a lot of the breakout sessions.

At Neverware, we believe that the architecture of the Chromium operating system, combined with legacy Windows apps delivered by Citrix, accomplishes exactly that. With CloudReady and Chrome Enterprise Management, organizations can spend much less time on securing, patching, and managing their endpoints, and more on driving innovation, ultimately improving business results.

3 underlying themes: User experience, security and choice.

As a Citrix Ready verified partner, we had the opportunity to attend the Citrix Ready Summit on the day prior to the start of Synergy and hear first hand about the future roadmap of Citrix Workspace. During this event we listened to the Citrix leadership team, from many different verticals, speak on a number of topics. It was clear that there was an explicit focus revolving around each of the following three themes throughout each presentation:

  • Awareness of what it means to provide a better user experience where the user is less distracted and has all the tools & information consolidated into one pane of glass.

  • Security has become paramount in the enterprise workplace.

  • Users want freedom to choose where and what device they work from.

The intelligent cloud workspace has finally arrived in the new Citrix Workspace.

The era of managing multiple services and devices, and updating and patching with different types of inconsistent tooling, is finally coming to a close. Innovative organizations are implementing a single point of governance to manage their entire organization that can be accessed from anywhere, from any device, and retains all of the appropriate preferences.

Additionally, the benefits of cloud workspaces to improve the employee experience, resource optimization, and overall security. However, the biggest cost savings are found in the reduction of time spent monitoring and managing the parameters and updates for every device in the company’s network.

Google and Citrix Partnership

While we believe the Citrix keynote speech here provides the best overview of this topic, we’d like to point out what we view as the most impactful two elements of the ever-increasing partnership between Citrix and Google:

  • Citrix Machine Creation Services (MCS) is now available on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Organizations will be able to seamlessly scale their Citrix desktop workloads from their existing on-premises deployments directly into Google Cloud.

  • Google is now an official identity provider for Citrix Workspace. This means that this integration will provide you with a more unified, secure, and seamless authentication experience for G Suite and Workspace.

The announcement of these two features alone elevates Google’s effort to a higher standard alongside the other cloud platforms in the Citrix ecosystem.

We (Google + Neverware) need to continue the push of educating the enterprise community on the value and capability of the Chrome ecosystem and applicable use cases.

Throughout the hundreds of conversations we had with users, customers and partners, we realized that awareness of the enterprise-grade features of CloudReady and Chrome OS, and the available integrations with Citrix, hadn’t yet permeated the enterprise community.

We shared a number of use cases where IT administrators walked away with some great ideas on how to address a pain point, all while improving security and manageability with CloudReady/Chrome OS. A couple of quick highlights of some of these use cases that were found to garner the most engagement and “I wish I knew about this sooner” reactions:

  • The ultimate mobile thin client: We spoke frequently about the use case where CloudReady/Chrome OS customers can run their devices in Kiosk mode, giving users the ability to only log in via the Citrix Workspace app, and launch their Virtual Desktops and Apps entitlements. Taking it one step further, Citrix released a configuration called Beacons that can be managed centrally via a single policy deployed from the Google Admin console, and which allows users to roam seamlessly from the physical office to remote work areas (e.g., coffee shops, hotels, airports), and automatically receive either the internal storefront URL or more secure, externally facing access gateway URL.

  • A secure thin client now, a full robust desktop OS later: The idea that both CloudReady and Chrome OS can offer the full functionality of a thin client device with the purpose of connecting into a fully hosted Windows desktop; AND then transition at the same pace that your workforce transitions to a more web-based way of working of the future, all WITHOUT compromising on security or manageability of these endpoints. Additionally, we found that some folks were incredibly intrigued by the fact that it’s just a simple flip of a switch to turn an endpoint acting as a thin client into this fully functioning, browser-based OS.


Synergy was a fantastic event to interact with many of the great minds within the enterprise community, all under a single roof. We walked away with a lot of knowledge on how Citrix sees the future of its Workspace computing platform and just how well this aligns with a secure, managed, and cloud-focused endpoint, like CloudReady and Chrome OS.


Feel free to comment with your thoughts below!

 

Nick Fuchs is a Product Specialist in Virtualization. When he's not supporting animal rescue, feeding the Neverware team, and drinking Don Julio, you can find Nick on his IT blog, NickyFixIt.com, or Neverware's Chrome Experts community.

View all posts by Nick.

 

Comment

"World's first" AMD Chromebooks? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Not for CloudReady Fans!

3 Comments

"World's first" AMD Chromebooks? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Not for CloudReady Fans!

If you’re reading this, you’re probably also firmly embedded in the wider Chromosphere of niche-y tech news that tracks and reports Chrome/Chromium OS. And that means you’ve probably also caught that, at CES last week, Acer and HP unveiled the world’s first Chromebooks with AMD processors.

At least a dozen other outlets all covered those announcements, heralding it as a major new step in hardware support for Chrome OS.

Want to know how we reacted here at Neverware?

 
 

"Look! AMD Chromebooks!" ——— "....Whoopee...." (◔_◔)


We love any and all attention that Chrome/Chromium OS can get, but we’ve already been hard at work for years making sure that the dozens of AMD-based certified models on our list work reliably (not to mention the thousands of non-certified AMD devices our Home Edition users are happily using). From our vantage point, it’s hard to see this as anything besides Google and AMD arriving late to their own party.

We are of course happy to see the rest of the Chromosphere (see how I’m coining this term?) show some enthusiasm for the idea that a secure, manageable, browser-based OS should be available on any hardware… but for the record, we were into that before it was cool.

So, are these new devices from HP and Acer really the world’s first AMD Chromebooks? Technically… yes.
But, in rebuttal, let me leave you with the following list of AMD devices that were certified for CloudReady long before CES 2019:

  • Acer Aspire One 721

  • Acer Aspire One 722

  • Acer Aspire V5-122P

  • Apple iMac 7,1

  • Apple iMac 8,1

  • Apple iMac 11,2

  • Asus X401U

  • Dell Inspiron Zino 410

  • Dell Optiplex 580

  • HP 215 G1

  • HP 3115m

  • HP 3125

  • HP Compaq 6005 Pro

  • HP Compaq 8510p

  • HP Compaq dc5850

  • HP Elitebook 6910p

  • HP ProBook 655

  • HP Probook 4510s

  • HP Probook 4525s

  • HP Probook 6440b

  • HP Probook 6445b

  • HP Probook 6455b

  • HP Probook 6465b

  • HP Proobook mt41

  • HP t610

  • Lenovo ThinkCentre M77

  • Lenovo Thinkpad 11e G2

  • Lenovo Thinkpad X140e

  • Lenovo Thinkpad x120e

  • Lenovo Thinkpad x130e

  • Lenovo Thinkpad x131e

  • Zotac ZBOX MA760

  • Zotac ZBOX MA761

3 Comments

4 Reasons Why CTOs Have Chosen Chromebooks

Comment

4 Reasons Why CTOs Have Chosen Chromebooks

 

People involved in educational technology (EdTech) know that Chromebooks have become the computer-of-choice in school districts across the U.S. Some experts are estimating that 80% of new computers sold into U.S. K-12 this year will be Chrome devices (Global Market Insights; Statista 2018). But why?

In 2012, Chromebooks had 1% of the K-12 market, but by the end of 2014 had 39% market share! The number of all types of computers sold almost doubled in these 2 years, mostly driven by public school districts’ rapid acceptance of Chromebooks.

Source: Futuresource Consulting Ltd.

Source: Futuresource Consulting Ltd.

So what exactly about Chromebooks led to this?  

Chromebooks are dominating U.S. K-12 because of their speed, simplicity and price. They boot in 7 seconds, run the fastest browser in the world (Chrome), and can cost less than $200. The simplicity of running entirely in the browser has made life easier for both education IT professionals, via the Google Admin console, and students, via G Suite for Education. The total cost of ownership for Chromebooks is 1/6th of PCs and Macs, and will continue to diverge with the accelerated development of free, web-based tools and curricula built for the Google ecosystem. For those that understand and live this, it’s no surprise that Apple & Microsoft are getting thrashed, and superintendents, Chief Technology Officers, school site techs, teachers, students, parents and taxpayers are increasingly opting for G Suite and Chromebooks.

G Suite for Education

Education technology is often focused on the newest hardware, bleeding-edge software, the latest AR, VR, AI algorithm, blah blah blah. But the only thing that matters to CTOs and K-12 leaders is helping kids be better students, employees, entrepreneurs, and ultimately citizens! Better at taking tests, graduating, extracurricular activities, community service, getting jobs, and going to college. Google recognized this, created a comprehensive library of tools and resources for teachers and students - many of which are unique to Google’s ecosystem - and made it totally free. It includes things like Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs/Sheets/Slides, Google Forms, Google Calendar, Google Expeditions, and perhaps most importantly, Google Classroom, which helps teachers and students manage assignments and coursework.

The Google Admin Console

School district IT departments are not always front-and-center in the way that teachers and principals are, but they are the crucial backbone that keeps all technology running, from the network infrastructure, computers, and classroom technology, to the central office, ERP and security systems (recently, I spoke with one IT Director at a rural, socioeconomically disadvantaged district who even handles his district’s HVAC system, and coaches the wrestling team to boot). Out of necessity, most IT professionals learned in the last couple of decades how to manage heavyweight Windows & Mac environments, with a large operating system (OS), constant OS updates, a multiplicity of desktop applications, computer refreshes, security threats and increasingly, digital assessments. There weren’t any other good options.

The Google Admin console made it incredibly easy and quick to set up large numbers of Chromebooks, manage them securely, and update them automatically, in the background, from the cloud. No more day-to-day OS updates or issues with version compatibility! The only cost: a $30 Chrome Management License to manage each Chromebook.

Furthermore, the Google Admin console’s “Kiosk Mode” enables IT to lock down computers to a single browser-based app, for student assessments, in a fraction of the time it takes on Windows & Mac computers. Nearly every US state's department of education has a roadmap for digital transformation (http://www.state.nj.us/education/techno/localtech/tpdl/tpdl.pdf), a cornerstone of which is often a transition to digital student assessments. Digital assessments yield faster reporting on test results, while reducing the operational overhead of analog, pencil-and-paper assessments. Faster assessments align with superintendents' and Curriculum & Instruction departments' objectives for quick feedback so they can iterate and improve on the fly and year to year, thus compelling them to switch to Chromebooks. The end result: Google for Education has amassed market share, namely by expanding the market to segments that could not previously afford to run complex assessment routines and could not make a swift transition to assessing digitally.

At the end of the day, all of this transformation for administration and IT meant a better experience for teachers, and therein, a better experience for students.

Source: Futuresource Consulting Ltd.

Source: Futuresource Consulting Ltd.

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

The first thing I learned when I began working with public school districts 4 years ago was that money is tight...scratch that - very tight. Paying to get the best teachers, curriculum, district support personnel, facilities and IT resources adds up, and districts don’t always get more money if they help kids better. More often than not, school districts are in a constant battle to make ends meet, and keeping up with technology for students is one of the first things to get cut. I spoke with a CTO of a 50,000+ student district this week whose budget was slashed 50% from last year!

But superintendents are increasingly aware that their students need access to technology to perform on digital tests, graduate on time, get decent jobs, compete for admission to college and become well-informed, well-rounded citizens that positively contribute to their community. Without adequate computer access, students are at a serious disadvantage, like in Baltimore City Schools, where the push for digital assessments combined with the lack of computer access for low-income students has hurt those students' test scores. Six years ago was when this awareness began spreading most strongly, and Google introduced the Chromebook right on time.  

With the least expensive models priced at $179, Chromebooks are undisputedly the most affordable computers for students and teachers. When buying in bulk with a Chrome Management License, white-glove setup, shipping and all other burdened costs, districts regularly pay $250 per Chromebook, much less than the standard Windows setup, which regularly runs double (or Mac, which easily runs quadruple).

IDC even did a study showing that Chromebooks have a 61% lower TCO over a 3-year period as compared with Windows computers, as a result of the 49% lower cost of Chromebooks, 68% more efficient IT support workflow, 91% lesser need to reboot, and whopping 93% faster deployment!

Google has also invested in Neverware, where we help school districts repurpose their old computers as Chrome devices, speeding them up and providing the same experience as Chromebooks, for as little as $1 per student per year. And they’ve sponsored services from companies like Amplified IT, so school districts can get their IT staff, Instructional Support staff and teachers the necessary training on Google tools and the Google Admin console with the purchase of their Chromebooks, and so teachers can jump right into teaching and focus on helping their kids with these tools. Again, all this for free!

Free Web-Based Tools & Curricula

The final key to Google and Chromebooks’ rapid adoption in K-12 has been content and apps.  Below are just a few examples from the broad ecosystem they’ve fostered:

  • Google Expeditions, empowering students to travel and learn (virtually) across the globe

  • Google “Digital Tools” like Scholar, which enables students to search scholarly articles

  • Google Computer Science, a large initiative to encourage and facilitate CS education

  • 3rd-party apps and tools to facilitate classroom instruction, IT administration and more

  • Google Training Center, with professional development resources for teachers

All of this led to continued growth of the K-12 device market and Google’s share of it, and by the end of 2017, Google owned almost two-thirds of all K-12 computing, and by way of its ecosystem, even more of EdTech mindshare as a whole. If superintendents, CIOs and CTOs weren’t already thinking this way, Google’s made it easy for them to decide, by mobbing them at the ground level with teacher evangelists that are well-versed in Google’s ecosystem and the resulting benefits for students.

Source: Futuresource Consulting Ltd.

Source: Futuresource Consulting Ltd.

And unlike Microsoft and Apple, who’ve had this position in the past (albeit not quite as dominantly), Google’s not letting go. They’re the first to make it easy for high school seniors to transfer their Chrome profiles over for college, and to eventually follow them into the workplace.  

Taking all of this into account, it’s no wonder that some experts are estimating that 80% of new computers sold into U.S. K-12 this year will be Chrome devices. More and more districts are going 1:1 (targeting a student-to-computer ratio of 1), and almost none of them can afford to do so with anything else. Nor would they want to. Superintendents realize that the heavyweight, costly Windows & Mac computers just aren’t needed, and that the money saved can be invested in helping kids be better instead.   

Comment

Using older computers to increase security at your school

Comment

Using older computers to increase security at your school

 

It's no surprise that recent events have school districts worried about security. Parents and educators around the country are voicing the need for additional safety measures, and in an education system where every proposed dollar of spend needs to be squeezed out of a tight budget, some districts have already implemented, and in many cases bought, new things.

Take Henry County Public Schools, for example, a school district in Georgia that transitioned their 14 schools, central office and 42,000 students to an automated 'Ident-a-Kid system', where visitors now use computer kiosks in an outer lobby to sign everyone in and print IDs:

Read more: Henry County Public Schools

Another district, Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools in North Carolina, has offered free lunch to officers in an effort to increase law enforcement presence at random times throughout the day on elementary school campuses:

Read more: Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools

How about Midway Independent School District, which is investing up to $100,000 on increased security measures like an additional armed security guard, and a buzzer system added to school entryways?

Read more: Midway Independent School District

What if your district board denied your budget request to fund additional security measures? For some, they’re resorting to “kicking rocks." Literally! That's what Blue Mountain School District did, by equipping every classroom with a 5-gallon bucket of stones (in addition to starting active shooter and evacuation drills).

Read more: Blue Mountain School District

It’s pretty clear that school district administrators are purchasing new technology to answer the call from parents and their state for increased security, which is great for districts that have the means to do so - but is too expensive for districts that don't, and need it most (initiate student rock-throwing security system).

So, districts that can do so will replace old computers with new, but other districts repurpose, refresh, or recycle.

When looking at outdated technology and revamping district security, many seem to be throwing out their older, slower computers that are believed to be 'end of life' computers, thinking that their only option is to buy new security tech. However, many districts are running their old computers as “kiosks” at school entrances, to screen visitors and enhance security at a very affordable rate.

This has the added benefit of not just screening potentially armed visitors, but also sex offenders, people with restraining orders, divorced parents with allocated child time, or even volunteers, where cloud-based software can keep track of time they log at the school - at a fraction of the cost of buying new.

This is how the Coronado Unified School District got it done.

Comment

A creative, yet realistic, approach to 1:1

Comment

A creative, yet realistic, approach to 1:1

 

Has the goal of becoming a 1:1 district blinded us to the realities of budget, asset allocation, and financial responsibility? Have the means become more important than the end goal?

Schools have been going 1:1 at a dramatic rate. The cost of doing so has been astronomical, not just in terms of the cost of new computers, but also in the effort of staff, and the energy required to sell another tax raise/budget increase to a board and community.

The science, student success, and teacher feedback from 1:1 programs is irrefutable. Having a computer for every student and increasing the time they spend with it has a positive effect on student learning. The question is, does it have to be a new computer to be effective? Do schools have to spend hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars to see these results? 

Schools have so many under-utilized assets. Computer labs that are rarely used, carts of laptops that are no longer checked out, and sheds of old equipment waiting to be sold at an upcoming auction. 

What if those assets are the key to unlocking a better 1:1 program: a program that provides the same benefits to students while decreasing the work load on staff, and leaving money in the budget? What if you could get a 1:1 program and have enough money left over to give teachers a raise, update network infrastructure, or buy other equipment?

Here at Neverware, we've helped hundreds of schools across the US use the assets they already own to build a sustainable 1:1 program. Those 10 carts of laptops that are not being used, the storage room with 400 Latitude laptops, and the computer lab with desktops that are becoming too slow to use daily, are now being converted into fast and simple Chromebooks.

New computers are not fundamentally more valuable to a student's learning process than old computers, if the old computers can keep up with student needs. When schools focus more on the end goal, and less on how others have achieved it, more creative solutions become apparent. 

Comment

Bringing back CloudReady VM in VMware OVA format

21 Comments

Bringing back CloudReady VM in VMware OVA format

 

Greetings CloudReady VM Fans,

We're pleased to announce that a VMware OVA appliance of CloudReady: Home Edition is once again available for download!

The update to version 57 of CloudReady involved a major under-the-hood graphics change to a new graphics stack called Freon. Freon provides a host of performance improvements,  as well as providing some future-proofing and reduced likelihood of bugs by keeping CloudReady more aligned with Chrome OS.  Unfortunately, Freon also broke CloudReady’s ability to run as a VM in VirtualBox or VMware environments.  After considerable development work and testing, the CloudReady: Home Edition v59 appliance is now available for download below.

 

CloudReady v59.3 VMware OVA appliance

VMware Player (Windows & Linux, free for personal use)

 

As always, this VM is provided as a convenience should still be considered experimental and unsupported. CloudReady is designed to run best when fully-installed on certified models, so we don’t offer a VM of our supported Education and Enterprise Editions of CloudReady, and we encourage everyone to use CloudReady VMs only for experimental and/or temporary purposes. You're also welcome to join the conversation on this topic in our user community.

 

The situation for running CloudReady using VirtualBox has proved more complex. VM use of CloudReady has been popular in a way we did not anticipate, so we wanted to get a working version available as soon as possible, starting with the VMWare download, but we know there are folks out there who prefer VirtualBox. We hope to follow with a solution for as well soon..  

Have fun and send bug reports!

21 Comments

When lifelong friends approach 40

2 Comments

When lifelong friends approach 40

 

By Andrew Bauer, Company President

A couple of years back I turned 40, which is the age when some lifelong friends have clearly “made it” (whatever that means).  Some of them operate in the same fashion as decades past - same sensibilities, same priorities.  Others have... changed.   They view themselves as belonging to a higher, more privileged class.  The latest victim to fall into this dreaded category is my old friend Apple.

Apple turns 40 next month, and has been a consistent presence throughout my life.  At age 11, my family’s first computer was the Apple IIC.  At age 19, I typed my college papers on my roommate’s Macintosh LCII.  At age 28, I bought my last CD and and first iPod in the same month.  But, more than just introducing me to cool new stuff, Apple was the friend who had the guts to stand up to stuffy old people and all their nonsense.  Apple showed us technology and cool were not mutually exclusive.  They busted the status quo and associated themselves with the bold and daring.  They explicitly told us that Macintosh was “the computer for the rest of us”.

And then….they “made it”.  You know the story - iPod takes off, iPhone takes off, iPad takes off.  Which, at first, seemed great, right?  Cool, smart visionaries beat lame, old losers - cue closing credits. 

Except, my old friend has changed.  

The company that originally made its name focusing on kids and education has all but abandoned that critical demographic.  By restricting discounts and limiting offerings for cash strapped school districts, Apple products are now an option only for the most fortunate of schools.  As a result, Apple’s market share in US K-12 has slipped to only 6% in 2015.  

Apple sold out - fine.  They abandoned school kids to focus on the needs of rich, high-end clientele.  The truly maddening part is that they are now trying to denigrate those that can’t afford their devices!  

We previously wrote a letter to Mr. Cook expressing our disappointment regarding his lack of focus on affordable computing. (Irony alert….Tim Cook’s former high school gives up on Macs).  But, now, Mr. Schiller has broadly mocked all 600 million people who can’t afford Apple devices as “sad”?  He said “These people could really benefit from an iPad Pro.”... “these people”!!? Out of touch is no longer the right word.

I’m sure Apple won’t miss me.  Their new friends are wealthier and better looking and travel to nicer places (although, do NOT underestimate 27th Street between 6th and 7th).  And those new friends will definitely love those innovative new watch bands.  And that’s great for them. But, for me, it is always sort of sad to lose an old friend.

2 Comments