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Make back-to-school a breeze with these 5 Google Admin Console tips

While some educators are busy getting supplies and curricula together for the incoming students, IT staff have their own work cut out for them, preparing devices, software, and the network. Google Apps Admin Console has a lot to offer for managing how your school accesses Google Apps, but even veterans can find features they’ve never heard of before. Here are 5 of our favorite tips to help reinforce your Google Apps for the first day of school.

5. Utilize Organizational Units (OUs)

From the main Admin Console page, click on the “Users” section, and you’ll see options to create organizational units to divide your users into—chances are, you already have some OUs in place, but at a minimum, we recommend separating by “staff” and “students.”

If you want to go deeper, you can separate them by students within individual schools, or take another step and sort by graduation year, or even by individual class. This helps immensely with controlling apps, settings, and policies, such as limiting email access and enforcing tighter restrictions for lower grade levels.

4. Get familiar with your Google Services

Under Apps, you’ll find a section called “Additional Google Services.” The list you’ll see will initially be filtered by “Top Featured Services,” but if you close out that filter on the right-hand side of the page, you’ll see a much, much longer list of services that are automatically active in your domain.

Set aside a bit of time to see which of those services are appropriate and necessary for your district, and disable/enable them for your different organizational units and groups. One good place to start is by disabling Google+ for students under age 13, as Google+ is a social media app explicitly for age 13+.

Once you’ve reached a setup that you’re happy with, you can stay on top of new services by going back to the main Admin Console page, going to “Company Profile,” and setting “New Products” to Manual rather than Automatic. This regulates when new Google services and products hit your devices, rather than letting software and apps hit before your district is ready for them.

3. Adjust your Google Takeout settings

Google Takeout is a cool function that lets a user download all of their online user data at once—Gmail history, Google Drive content, and more—needless to say, this has pros and cons. Enabling Google Takeout for high school students could be a good way to let them package their online data and take it with them when they graduate, and import that data to their personal account. On the reverse side of this, disabling Google Takeout for faculty can be a good step towards restricting access to school information after staff leave your domain.

2. Disable voice calling from Hangouts and Google Voice

If you haven’t checked back with some of your Google Apps settings in a while, there are some newer features regarding Google Hangouts which you should see. Under “Apps,” “Additional Google Services,” and “Settings for Talk/Hangouts,” you’ll want to click “Advanced Settings,” where you’ll see that you have options for changing the online chat functionality. Here you can disable the voice call functionality.

Leaving that feature on enables your students to dial numbers anywhere in the US or Canada, and there’s no way to track where calls have been made! This is a no-brainer—save yourself the trouble and disable voice call before you have a bad situation on your hands.

1. Restrict your Chromebooks to users in your domain

This is actually a two-part trick, and it’s our favorite one because it ensures that all your other policies are enforced! Under Device Policies, you’ll find options for guest mode login, as well as sign-in. The first thing you’ll want to do is restrict sign-in privileges to only users registered to your domain—this way your devices can’t be signed in from personal Google accounts, only those associated with your district.

Next, disable Guest Mode, which is pretty self explanatory—users can’t sign into the Chromebook in any way, except with a valid login. This way, all the activity taking place on your district’s Chromebooks will be strictly under the policies you set in the Admin Console.

Keep exploring the Admin Console

We consider these some must-have tips, but they’re also just the tip of the iceberg for Google Apps Admins. If you want a more guided tour of tools available, you should check out our 3 videos to help make you a Google Admin Console Ninja, or better yet, drop us a line and set up a training session at your school. Did we miss one of your favorite tips? We’d love to hear about it!

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