Google Admin console has a lot of great features, but many of them are hidden and easy to miss. In our new blog series, we’ll be exploring some of our favorite GAC features and options, and show you how you can make use of them in your school and your classroom. Make sure to subscribe to our blog to learn how to do something new in GAC every week!
For our first post, we’re going to show you how you can have student Chromebooks automatically open a designated set of websites as soon as they log in.
Most of the time, Chromebooks will open either a blank page or Google search when opened. While these are nice websites to have open, they can be so much more useful with a little bit of extra setup! Because this setting is handled at the Organizational Unit (OU) level, the level of customization available depends on your OU structure. If each classroom has their own OU, then teachers can submit lists of everyday webpages, like a Google Doc for attendance or journaling, or even homework/pre-class assignments. If your school’s OUs are set up for different grade levels, then you could set different levels of online learning sites that correspond to each OU. The possibilities are endless!
Setting a series of websites to open automatically on student login also works wonderfully with GoGuardian Teacher. Teachers can easily verify that students have the correct pages open and are working diligently, and can use the Screens and Timelines view to see what the entire class is working on at a glance.
In the gif above, we set five websites to open for every Chromebook in our Support OU:
- Google Doc explaining the day’s assignment.
- A link to Google Calendar opened up to the day of the lesson.
- Three different websites related to the day’s topic of study: Teddy Roosevelt.
As soon as a student signs into their device, each of the five webpages are opened, with focus on the Google Doc assignment. Using GoGuardian Teacher, the classroom’s teacher is able to see each student’s progress as they move through their assignment.
Before getting started, you’ll want to have two things ready:
- The exact URLs of each webpage you want to open on student Chromebooks as they log in.
- Administrator-level access to your school’s Google Admin console.
Before we dive in, there are two caveats to be aware of if you enable Chrome tabs to open on student login:
- The On Startup options on student Chromebooks will be disabled (found in the Advanced Settings section of chrome://settings).
- All Chrome tabs that were open during previous sessions will be closed, and the only tabs that will be open on student Chromebooks when they log in are those chosen by the admin. Because this can cause students with open research tabs to lose them, we recommend only setting tabs to automatically open on student OUs where this will not be an issue. (Thanks to David for pointing this out!)
Alright admins, let’s get started!
- First, go to admin.google.com, and log in using your administrator-level credentials.
- Next, Click on Device Management.
- From the Device Management screen, click on Chrome Management.
- Now, click on User Settings.
- From the Organizations list on the left of the screen, select which OU you want to have pages open automatically on. If you want the same web pages to open automatically for all of the students at your school, you can skip this step.
- Scroll down to the Startup section.
- Under the “Pages to Load on Startup” heading, enter each URL into the “Pages to Load on Startup” field. Make sure to hit enter before entering each website though, as each website needs to be on its own line.
By the way -- before you hit that Save button, there’s something to keep in mind: Google Admin console doesn’t limit how many websites you can set to open automatically. Because each open website in Chrome takes up more system resources, opening too many pages at once can really slow Chromebooks down. We recommend setting no more than five pages to open at once!
- Finally, click Save at the bottom of the screen.
And that’s it! After clicking the Save button, your settings will be saved to GAC, and the next time a student signs into their Chromebook in the selected OU, the designated websites will all be opened right away.
We’d love to know what you guys plan on using for startup pages for your school. Your school district’s homepage? An attendance roster in Google Docs? Maybe a light and fast learning game to get student brains firing on all cylinders? Let us know in the comments!
Also, make sure to subscribe to our blog (the button is at the top right of this page) for a new Google Admin console tip every week!