Friday, May 29, 2015

Chromebook Challenge: Week 7 Update

So I haven't posted an update in a couple of weeks because I haven't had anything new to report.  All I know is that the last 7 weeks have been some of the best in terms of technology frustration I have ever had.  Everything is so fast and smooth when I am on my Chromebook.  I have had to go to my computer once or twice and it is like trying to run a race while sinking in quicksand.  It is unbelievably slow.  I am spoiled with the speed and responsiveness of Chrome OS.

What I ended up doing the last week of school was hooking up the Chromebook into my 24 inch monitor, essentially turning my Chromebook into a Chromebox.  I had been using a mouse since the first week, but having everything on a 24 inch monitor is awesome.  All I needed was my little vga to hdmi cable and I was good to go.

We have to print out a bunch of paperwork at the end of the year and printing was no issue.  I had my laptop running and printed about 30 pages of reports without any problem.  I was even able to update my tutorial site, including a screencast all on the Chromebook.  I watch my colleague next to me as he is opening up Chrome on his Windows pc and it lags so bad.  On Chrome OS, click and go.  It truly is amazing the speed differences.

And ironically, today while I was helping set up a room for summer school, my laptop got stuck in an infinite boot loop.  Couldn't do anything.  No safe mode, no nothing.  So I had to take it to our tech people and they said they would reimage it.  Now, since I am on a Chromebook, all that this affects is printing.  But imagine if teachers had Chromebooks or Chromeboxes and something did happen, although I haven't seen an issue all year.  I could have gone up given them my Chromebook and given another and once I logged in, it would feel just like the one I had before.  Amazing.

So school is over now, but I have to say I will probably be using this set up for next year.  I don't see any valid reasons to keep running Windows at school.  I will still keep my laptop around because I will need it for printing, but other than that...good-bye Windows.  Chrome OS offers so much more than a Windows-based system can bring here at school.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


11:03.28...what is that you ask? That is the amount of time it took one of our school's new Lenovo Yoga 11e computers to restart today in class. A teacher next to me was giving his first test on Socrative, so I wanted to help him out. The Chromebooks were checked out, so he got to use the brand new Yogas.  They looked nice, but running Windows 8.1 worried me because of speed issues and let's face it, a Windows pc isn't starting up in 8 seconds.

So they were passed out and students logged in. Maybe its from having Chromebooks, but that little dotted circle spun for a long time before the desktop showed up. They clicked on Chrome and another few seconds it popped up. The whole process was less than I feared, but definitely longer than a Chromebook. 

A few had some issues 2 stalled on the sign in, desktop never loaded and one gave a "critical error" message and was shut down. I looked at the one where the desktop never loaded and tried to fix it. I hit the Windows key and nothing, no metro, no desktop. I pulled up the task manager and it said no programs were running. So finally I restarted it.  I decided to time it just to compare it to a Chromebook.  Total time for it to get back to the log in screen, 11:03.28 seconds. 

The class is small, so he had extras, but what if there were none? Do teachers have 11 minutes to sit and stare at a dotted circle spinning? I think we all know the answer to that question.  Makes me glad that I have a class set of Chromebooks & not a Windows based OS.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Chromebook Challenge: Week 4 Update

Another successful week using a Chromebook only.  I brought in a USB mouse from home to make life a little easier versus a trackpad.  Nothing wrong with it, just more comfortable using a mouse.  If we went with the Chromebox with USB mouse & keyboard, that wouldn't be an issue. I don't have much to add to what we already know about using Chrome OS, it's fast & it works.  The other teacher that started using a Chromebook still does for everything except his PowerPoint presentations.

I had been using Fireshot extension for screenshots, but have been using Snagit, and it seems to be a little better.  Mainly, it allows me to do some basic editing right away, instead of opening up Pixlr.  I wish it would have the ability to erase things on the screen, but it does allow for adding in text & shapes.  So that is something that Fireshot doesn't do.

I can honestly say that switching to a Chromebook has made my life a lot less frustrating.  I had to use my computer this week to go to a site that was blocked on the Chromebook, device restrictions again.  The delay in logging in, the delay in opening the browser...just so much.  Once again, when teachers need to do something, we want speed.  We don't have time to stare at a screen and wait for something to happen.  We want to click on something and have it react right away.

It has helped me connect with the students and their devices.  We are all using the same thing now.  So I know exactly how it looks on their devices.  I know how the apps & extensions operate and problems that come up.  Being on the same operating system makes sense and benefits everyone.

That's all I have for this week.  I just have to re-emphasize that if you have considered moving to Chrome OS, do it.  Totally worth it.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Chromebook Challenge: Week 3 Update

A very interesting week at work today with my Chromebook Challenge. When I did my post on what is needed to go paperless, the very first thing was a strong network.  Well, this week our district's internet service provider had some major issues and they played havoc with the challenge. Now the perception is that if you have no internet you have a fancy paper weight. That of course is a misnomer, it is well documented what Chromebooks can do offline.  Unfortunately for me, I am using a Chromebook with student permissions, so I can't store anything offline because of those settings.

Now even if I was on my computer, I would have been dead in the water too. Since the shift in education is web based programs, and I saw plenty of evidence of that this week. Once the internet goes down there isn't much you can do.

Other than that it was a great week. I am trying to get another teacher to join me in the challenge. It's great because he is a different subject, so it is a different point of view. Two things he noticed. When he converted his PowerPoint to a Slides presentation, none of the sounds came with it. The slides themselves he said looked fine, but he likes sounds. This is a problem when moving PowerPoints anywhere. The sound files aren't embedded in the actual file. They are pointed to an address, and for most that is on the computer. I believe he would need to either a) resave them as html pages to get all sound files or b) re-insert the files once converted. The other thing is that he can't view his personal gmail account when logged in. He could log out and back in, but he doesn't want to. He could go incognito, but that function is blocked by our district.

As you can see to go Chrome OS our district has to differentiate between teachers & students, just like our pc log ins do.