There are many reasons why I have a love affair with Google Apps for Education. One of them is the ability to control which apps and extensions our students can add to Chrome. We do this in two ways:
- We push out certain apps/extensions to all students. These automatically get installed; students don’t need to go to the Webstore. This method is great for the apps/extensions that you want all students to have access to.
- We have a custom Chrome Webstore for students. When our students click on the Webstore app, they are brought to a store that has whitelisted apps/extensions (approved by the board). This method is useful for apps/extensions that are beneficial, but not all students need/want.
The apps and extensions that we’ve pushed out and added to the Webstore are the ONLY apps/extensions that students can add. Keep in mind that Superior North Catholic is a K-8 school board, and that we are not BYOD (we provide Chromebooks for all of our Grade 5-8 students). Your board may choose to go a different route with respect to students and the Chrome Webstore.
Our staff, on the other hand, have free range in the Chrome Webstore; we do not limit their access. If a teacher finds an app/extension that they want their students to have access to, we have a process in place for them to make the request: They fill out a Google form (and I’ve set it so that I get email notifications anytime a new response is submitted), and I take a look at the app/extension.* If the reviews are good, then I head over to the Admin panel and add it to our list of approved apps/extensions and also add it to the custom Chrome Webstore. This setup allows us to filter student access to the webstore, while also providing teachers the opportunity to add things to the list.
*The Google form to request an app/extension exists in a managed bookmarks folder that gets pushed out to all staff members. Expect a post about managed bookmarks coming soon!