At Japan’s GABA language schools, Chromeboxes and Chrome Enterprise keep English lessons on track
Editor’s note: Today’s post is by Masato Masunaga, Manager of the Service Desk Section, and Martin Lindner, Senior Systems Engineer for IT Infrastructure, both of GABA, Japan’s leading provider of one-to-one English language lessons. GABA has outfitted its 50 Learning Studios in cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Fukuoka with Chromeboxes and Chrome Enterprise to reduce IT maintenance and improve the language lesson experience for students and teachers.
People come to GABA’s one-on-one English lessons for many reasons. They may be business people about to travel overseas, students who want to add English proficiency to their resumes or prepare for a semester abroad—even employees of Krispy Kreme Doughnut Japan locations, who want to better serve foreign customers. Wherever our students’ interest in learning English comes from, our teachers are here at GABA’s Learning Studios provide customized lessons using online lesson plans. Now that we use ASUS Chromeboxes and Chrome Enterprise in our studios, every language class is more productive.
Since GABA was founded in 1995, we’ve aimed to set ourselves apart from other English-language schools with our approach to technology. To deliver lessons and maintain schedules, we created our own operating system and browser-based work environment. We also built a reservation system that lets students and teachers choose session times. The computers in our studios accessed all of these applications through a proprietary web browser.
Keeping the computers up to date and secure was time-consuming for our IT team. If we wanted to do something as simple as adding a bookmark to our browser, we had to recode our original operating system and then distribute it to each device. Sometimes when we turned on a device, it would automatically start updating its OS, which meant a lesson couldn’t start until the updates were finished. We asked the instructors how they felt about the OS: They told us that it sometimes crashed and interrupted the lessons, which we didn’t like to hear.
We needed a more reliable, less high-maintenance operating system, along with computers that didn’t demand device-by-device updates. In 2016, we added 16 ASUS Chromeboxes and Chrome Enterprise to our instructor training facility, as a test to gauge how much time we might save on IT maintenance and troubleshooting. The results were positive. We saw that every time someone turned on a Chromebox, it automatically updated, but without the delays and crashes that happened with our old devices—which meant lessons weren’t disrupted.
We got permission from our leadership to purchase 1,000 more Chromeboxes for the Learning Studios. The IT department loves Chromeboxes because they update automatically and can be managed remotely, reducing our workload even as GABA adds new locations. It only takes us 10 minutes or so to set up new Chromeboxes—and if a Chromebox is on, it’s up to date. The instructors value Chromeboxes because they perform reliably and don’t crash. That means lessons go smoothly for students, encouraging them to come back to GABA.
Chromeboxes and Chrome OS also reduce the tech headaches at our in-house studios at companies hiring GABA to teach English to employees. We used to have compatibility issues with peripherals like monitors and keyboards with our old OS; instructors told us that sometimes they couldn’t access websites via our proprietary browser. These issues have been eliminated. No matter where we place Chromeboxes, they just work, and teachers and students don’t worry about accessing lessons and scheduling tools.
We see potential for Chromeboxes and Chrome Enterprise beyond English lessons. As our company starts to shift toward more cloud-based services, we may add more Chromeboxes in other GABA departments. For now, we’re happy that Chromeboxes and Chrome Enterprise help us focus on what’s really important—helping students learn English.