Why Not To Force Install Apps on Chromebooks

chromebookFCPS now has several schools using Chromebooks so you’ll start seeing more GAFE and Chromebook posts along with iPad posts and other things I think about.

All of our Chromebooks are managed in the Google Management Console and all of our staff and students have Google accounts in our Google domain. We use the “block all apps and extensions except the ones I allow” option for all students. It is up to the district and/or school as to which apps to allow.


Another option Google gives us is to “Manage Force-installed Apps” which brings me to the point of this post. You can force all users to have an app or extension installed when they sign in to a Chromebook and when they sign into Chrome on another device. This makes sense for some apps (I’ll come back to this), but let’s look at a scenario.

kid on laptopLet’s say your middle school wants all of the students to have the Google Drive app. To accomplish this you force install the Google Drive app to all the students in the school. Johnny is in the 6th grade and begins using the app. Johnny loves it and saves all his files there. He uses the app when he is on his school owned Chromebook and on the Chrome browser on his home computer which he has signed into using his school email address. He continues using Google Drive in 7th and 8th grade. Johnny has now moved to high school and so has his Google account. His new school isn’t forcing the Google Drive app. When his Google account is moved to his new school, the Google Drive app is removed from his account. Johnny gets a new Chromebook from his High School (yes Johnny is a lucky guy) but the Google Drive app is not installed on the new Chromebook or the Chrome browser at home anymore. 

Johnny hasn’t lost any files. They are all still safe in Google Drive. But, do you see the problem??? His new school isn’t forcing the app install. Worst of all, Johnny never learned how to install an app. It was always just there so he doesn’t know how to get it back.

This scenario isn’t the end of the world, and Google Drive is actually available by default, but it brings me to my point. I believe its better to have students install apps themselves for two reasons. One, students will learn how to do it. Second, apps will remain tied to the students’ accounts regardless of where in the Google domain their account is moved too (assuming the app is still allowed.)

Now, I know what your thinking. It will be very time consuming to have students manually install the apps. Well, here’s a way you can speed up the process.

  1. Open the Chrome Web Store
  2. Search for the app you want students to use. In this case, we’ll search for Google Forms.webstore
  3. Click on the name of the app (not Add to Chrome) and a window with screenshots and a description of the app will open.form
  4. Look at the URL bar in the image above and your browser. That is a direct link to the page for this app.
  5. Copy the URL
  6. Paste the URL into something you are sharing with students. For example a Google doc, Google Site, Google Classroom.
  7. When students click the link they will be taken to the app install page and they should click “Add To Chrome”

This should make the process much faster than telling the students to search for an app, yet does allow them to become familiar with the process of installing apps.

Now, back to apps that make sense to force. We have an app that we install for all staff and students that tells our Internet filter who the user is. Without the app, everyone is given the most restricted filtering option. So, we do force that, but we do it at the top of our domain level. That way regardless of what school a student or staff member is at, the app will install.

  1. #1 by martyjpark on March 4, 2016 - 11:10 am

    Dave, I’m going to use this post in my KySTE session next week on “How to create Chrome Apps from your websites that can be pushed.” Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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