At this UK school, CloudReady provides a hassle-free, budget-friendly way to transition to the Google ecosystem
The Connaught School for Girls, located in the heart of Leytonstone, East London, is a fully inclusive, highly successful secondary school for 600 girls aged 11 to 16. Built in 1932, it has been a girls’ school since 1986.
The school places an emphasis on supporting teaching with the most up-to-date technology: Every classroom has an interactive whiteboard, projector, screen and wall-mounted speakers. Three dedicated computer rooms, and the school library, each have 30 computers, and there are mobile laptop suites in science, mathematics and the school library that are available for classroom use.
Until recently, Connaught used Windows machines, with a primary focus on safeguarding students through content filtering and other internet services.
Speaking about the Windows devices, Connaught Assistant Headteacher Alexander Silk said, “They are great until they start dramatically slowing down, which is quite soon. So that dramatically limits their usefulness.”
Exploring a shift to Google
In late 2017, as Google became increasingly more prevalent in UK education, Connaught began exploring moving away from Windows, obtaining 31 Chromebooks through the London Grid for Learning (LGfL).
“Chromebooks became quite inexpensive and easy to use, compared to legacy hardware,” explained Silk. “Google Classroom was the driving factor and using Chrome enables a much easier platform for communication with students and parents and for sharing resources.”
According to Silk, tight budgets meant it was hard to implement any kind of radical change that might require a large upfront spend. “As schools, we need to be quite risk averse, so we definitely start with a pilot to investigate viability, hidden obstacles and costs,” he said. “The solution has to work without much hassle and be budget-friendly.”
The school’s leadership team also wanted to have a gradual integration and transition to Google to minimize potential disruptions as the school moved to G Suite.
Making old devices viable again
That cautious approach, with an eye on budget and timing, eventually led Connaught to Neverware’s CloudReady operating system as a budget-friendly way to help the school become a Chrome-centric ecosystem by turning its existing Windows computers into Chrome devices.
“CloudReady was an unknown for us, so we didn’t know our old HPs and other devices could be viable again,” Silk said.
“Even in the first week, we saw a massive uptick in booking of the devices. In the previous year, the devices got booked four times in total as Windows devices. In their first week as CloudReady devices, they were booked 21 out of 25 times!”
The school embarked on a CloudReady pilot that saw almost immediate success and adoption.
“Even in the first week, we saw a massive uptick in booking of the devices,” Silk stated. “In the previous year, the devices got booked four times in total as Windows devices. In their first week as CloudReady devices, they were booked 21 out of 25 times!”
Silk continued, “Using Neverware has made old redundant equipment feel new again. It is fast, easy to use and reliable. We have seen a massive increase in teachers using these devices again, after avoiding using them before.”
Connaught’s fleet of devices now includes two trolleys of CloudReady devices (approximately 40 old HP computers) alongside Chromebooks for general use. There are two trolleys of Windows devices which they keep for printing, and some additional Windows devices for specialised use cases like operating the 2D Design laser cutter in the Arts room.
“CloudReady is a financially basic premise,” Silk said. “You have the equipment already, but you can’t use it as it is old and out of date. Changing to CloudReady has enabled us to use this equipment again, and not have to buy more.”
“Now that we’ve seen it work and have used it for a while, it’s great! The beauty of it is that it just works and your older devices are no longer a liability. They can be an asset again.”
Looking ahead to a future with Google
The future technology plan for Connaught revolves around a complete shift to the Google ecosystem, including centralized device management via the Google Admin console. “I would like to fully move across to a Google platform for all students, so all machines are Chromebooks or converted Neverware devices,” Silk said.
For now, though, CloudReady has been a success in breathing new life into the school’s Windows machine.
“Now that we’ve seen it work and have used it for a while, it’s great!” Silk enthused. “The beauty of it is that it just works and your older devices are no longer a liability. They can be an asset again.”
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