CloudReady delivers the familiar Chrome experience at Lincoln Public Schools

The second largest public school district in Nebraska, Lincoln Public Schools is renowned for its long-standing legacy of educational excellence and tradition of rigorous academic achievement. The school district serves over 42,000 students in more than 60 schools and programs.

A wide-ranging new device strategy

In 2014, the district began implementing a technology plan called CLASS (Connected Learning for the Achievement of Students and Staff), which outlined strategies for device replacement cycles and connected classrooms. In the 2015-2016 school year, the district implemented G Suite for Education and began piloting several different models of Chromebooks.

As a result of CLASS, every student in grades 2-12 is issued a Chromebook. Students in each K-1 classroom share six iPads, and all teachers and administrators are issued new laptops on a three-year replacement cycle. Across the district’s 39 elementary schools and 12 middle schools, each has one student lab and one mobile lab, and there are an additional eight labs in each of the six high schools—all of which are regularly refreshed.

Still, however, the district’s plan called for two additional devices in each classroom to fill any potential gaps, such as for substitute teachers to use or to supply to students who didn’t bring their own Chromebooks to class, or whose Chromebooks weren’t charged.

A performance challenge emerges

LPS first tried implementing a stripped-down Windows OS on each of the loaner computers. “Those computers were referred to as ‘Fauxbooks,’” said Kirk Langer, Chief Technology Officer of Lincoln Public Schools. “The performance of the Fauxbooks was so poor in comparison to Chromebooks that by all reports and observations they simply were not being used.”

In search of a solution, the LPS team learned about CloudReady via an email campaign and decided to test it. According to Darin Raguse, Technology Services Coordinator for LPS, the district tends to use a three-phase approach when implementing new technology. An initial proof of concept is usually followed by a limited pilot or a larger group to test the solution’s scalability, followed by full implementation. “There was initially some skepticism about how well CloudReady would scale within our school district, but that was quickly dispelled once we deployed the devices in virtually every classroom in the district,” Raguse said.

Replacing ‘Fauxbooks’ with ‘ChromeTops’

“We deployed the CloudReady solution on what we called ‘ChromeTops,’” Langer said. “After testing the solution, it was readily apparent that the performance was far superior to the stripped-down Windows OS. The word spread very quickly that the ‘ChromeTops’ worked really well.”

Accordingly, LPS set out to deploy CloudReady on 4,000 Dell Latitude E5430s across six technology support regions.

“The biggest factor was that CloudReady allowed us to use existing hardware so that we could save on the cost of new hardware,” Raguse explained. Technicians were given Latitude E5430s that weren’t already deployed as “Fauxbook” Windows devices. The technicians loaded CloudReady onto the Latitudes and then swapped them with other deployed “Fauxbooks,” repeating the process until all of the “Fauxbooks” in their region were replaced.

“CloudReady is one of those rare exceptions that delivers a simple, elegant and highly useful solution that converts aging computer hardware into a very suitable Chromebook.”

- Kirk Langer, CTO

LPS currently has 4,000 CloudReady devices, 37,000 Chromebooks, 9,000 macOS computers, and 4,000 Windows computers. “Our number of Windows and macOS computers has been reduced significantly with the implementation of the CloudReady and Chromebook devices,” Raguse said. “Our technicians are tasked with re-imaging, deploying and supporting our 4,000 CloudReady devices. They have reported that has all gone more smoothly than when we were supporting these same devices as Windows OS laptops.”

“The right solution at the best value”

CloudReady has been well received in the Lincoln Public Schools by students and staff, too. “Our staff has provided feedback indicating that they prefer using the laptops as ‘ChromeTops’ over using them with the Windows OS,” Raguse said. “The best feedback from students is the lack of problems being reported with the laptops running CloudReady.”

He continued, “In the end, our goal is to provide the right solution at the best value. CloudReady has allowed us to meet a very important need while also extending the life of 4,000 Dell laptops that would have otherwise been surplussed.”

“CloudReady has allowed us to meet a very important need while also extending the life of 4,000 Dell laptops that would have otherwise been surplussed.”

- Darin Raguse, Technology Services Coordinator

“Solutions to extend the life cycle of aging computer hardware are very common, but solutions that actually deliver a reasonable user experience are exceedingly rare,” Langer, Lincoln’s CTO, commented. “CloudReady is one of those rare exceptions that delivers a simple, elegant and highly useful solution that converts aging computer hardware into a very suitable Chromebook.”

He concluded, “Neverware couples their solution with outstanding customer support and service that ensures a successful implementation whether you’re converting hundreds or thousands of devices. Five stars!”

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The challenge The district’s technology plan called for every classroom to have two additional devices to fill any potential gaps, but performance on the existing Windows laptops was so poor compared to Chromebooks that no one used them. The solution The district installed CloudReady on 4,000 Dell laptops across six technology regions. The results Lincoln has extended the life of devices that would have been surplussed, saved money for new hardware, and reduced support time while providing loaner laptop users with the familiar Chrome experience. Student enrollment: 42,000+ over more than 60 schools & programs Pre-existing platforms:
  • Windows laptops
  • Google Chromebooks
  • MacOS devices

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