We’ve all been there. You have a group of students that you want to access a particular website. You tell all of the students the website address. You write it on the board. You create a a short link to it. You mail it out. You post it in Classroom. You spell it out like you are doing a new version of the YMCA dance, but alias you can’t get all of your students to the site and have to spend time helping individual students.
Now, don’t get me wrong, individualized instruction is a good thing, but pointing out that they are missing a period in the URL or the “N” in the short URL needs to be capitalized, is taking away from the time you have to teach your lesson. Then, what if you aren’t in the same room as the students you are teaching? They are on another campus or even working on an assignment at home. How can you make sure the students have easy access to your school website, or other important site?
Well that was a bit over-dramatic, but you see my point. The good news is Google has a solution. In the Google Management Console you can setup Managed Bookmarks for your users. I’m very much in favor of empowering students, not just always blocking or taking things away in technology. That’s why I like the management of the bookmarks bar. As an admin, you can push out bookmarks AND students can still add their own. So lets dive into how it works.
If you are a FCPS GAFE Manager for your school (meaning you have access to the Google Admin Console) you can follow the steps below. If you are not, you’ll need to submit a Helpdesk ticket to have the bookmarks setup for you.
In the Google Management console, go to Device Management > Chrome Management > User Settings. Then, scroll down to the User Experience section.
Here we find Managed Bookmarks. When using this feature, Google will create a folder to put all of the bookmarks you send out to users. I really like this way because it gives students the rest of the bookmarks bar to use to place their own bookmarks.
The first thing you need to do is give the folder a name.
Next, let’s create our first bookmark.
In the example above I’ve entered the site URL, and given it a name. The name can be anything that makes sense to you. When you are finished with these two fields, click the plus button. Otherwise the bookmark will not be added to the list. You can keep adding bookmarks and just click the plus sign after each one.
There are a few other settings under User Experience you will want to look at.
You can force the Bookmark Bar to be visible for your users. You can also choose where or not users can create their own bookmarks. Unless you are using a generic account that multiple users share, I would leave this enabled.
When you are finished adding your bookmarks make sure you click the Save button in the bottom right corner of the screen.
Bookmarks Are Managed by OUs
Here’s Something to keep in mind when pushing bookmarks to your users. The bookmarks will only show up while the user is in your Organization Unit (OU) within Google. Let’s say you manage bookmarks for your middle school. When that student heads to high school and the account leaves your OU, the bookmarks will be removed from their browser. This is fine if the bookmark was for something list your school’s website. However, let’s say the bookmark was to a website that shows you how to properly site resources in a paper. That could be a site that would be beneficial for students when they leave your school. You may want to teacher your students how to create bookmarks like these rather than pushing them out.