I bought myself a Samsung Chromebook for $450 inc GST in October because that’s what early adopters tend to do and I like trying and learning new things.
I wrote a Chromebook review on a borrowed device last year and I can thankfully say that the device is much improved- a different kettle of fish entirely from what I used last year.
Here are some of my thoughts around using Chromebooks and Google Apps- appreciating the fact that I am Google Certified Teacher as well as a Blended eLearning Facilitator. My perspective on teaching and learning is flavoured by teaching mainly from year four to six so I can’t discuss how they might look in a secondary school situation.
- I think that they are a good, cheap device for doing the sorts of things that senior students often want to do- writing, collaborating, researching, connecting, recording, learning! You have to have a Google account or create one on startup and some internet to get the device working.
- It is really easy to use as a shared device as you log in to your Google Account you get all your services at your fingertips- just log out and pass on to the next person if needed.
- The battery seems to last a good while and I love the ‘instant on’ feature- you lift the lid and the thing is on.
- I like the decent sized keyboard that my fingers know where they are supposed to go unlike silly little netbooks where I was forever typing the wrong letters- it was driving my crazy!
- It is lightweight so easy to carry around, backwards and forwards to school if needed as a personal device.
- I really like that anything you do on it is never lost- with things going to Drive which autosaves you can never lose your work.
- I think it is robust enough to take the knocks but I look after mine cos I paid for it with my own money- not sure how it would handle the rigours of being bashed around all the time- only time and a trial could tell that I suppose.
- I also like that there are never any updates to do or viruses to check for- all that sort of thing is done for you by launching Chrome which automatically checks for updates as it starts up.
- Yes they are good at searching the web but so much more than that- with the use of Google Docs and potentially Hapara Teacher Dashboard to manage the use of docs, blogs, curriculum areas etc for teachers it can be a really powerful tool.
- You can easily add other apps and extensions to Chrome to enhance and empower your experience. You get the basic tools like docs, presentations, spreadsheets, forms and drawings as standard but can add other powerful apps like We.video and Video.notes which can add even more functionality to the experience and if you add Chrome extensions as well you can do some quite amazing things.
- I splashed out and bought a Chromecast as well. A Chromecast is a bit like an Apple TV in that you can wirelessly mirror your browser onto a data display. I had to order it through Amazon and YouPost and cost my $87NZ delivered to NZ. Here is a video that shows you how to set it up. I like that as well because as you mirror one tab you can do something else on a different tab! At the end of the year you could show your class a YouTube video in one tab and be writing your reports in another!!!!!
- On first starting up the Chromebook I had to quickly learn to do some things in new ways…..
It is a different way of thinking though and it took me a bit of fiddling to do some of the things I do without thinking on my Mac Book Pro.
My first hurdle was to remember my really strong Google password. I use OnePassword to store my passwords and it is a download on my Mac so I had to copy it from my iPhone app when I first opened up my Chromebook. After a quick tweet to OnePassward I was able to access the rest of my passwords because I have them synching in Dropbox.
Talking of Dropbox you can’t of course have off line access but I was able to add the app and have it sitting on my bottom toolbar like in the photo collage above.
To take a screen grab I had to add an extension and then I had to figure out where the screengrab actually went when it was captured. I Googled it and found there actually was a FILES folder for things that you want to save for things like PDFs so I have that sitting on the bottom tool bar as well.
I couldn’t use Skype because that is a download so can use Google Hangouts instead. You just think to yourself how can I do this a different way!
My Chromebook is stand alone as it my own personal one but as a teacher I would want the management console so I could push out settings, websites and those sorts of things to the students but I am not sure that you would need to in a secondary setting- you would have to ask other Chromebook users for their opinions on that.
In saying all that I have only really used my Chromebook where I know there is good strong wifi or tethered it to my iPhone. I think that without that connectivity then it would be nothing more than a rather lightweight, funky looking brick!
There is a lot for me to learn yet as I explore and play but I’m underway.
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- Here are my Google resources that you may like to have a look where I remember and share all things Google.
As an on-going keeping abreast of what is happening with Chromebooks you may like to join the Chromebook group on the VLN to ask questions and learn through other’s experiences.
And here are my Chromebook on line bookmarks that I have saved as a resource.
I store my bookmarks in Diigo which is an on line social bookmarks curating website. If you find the site not working at school it is probably because your filters are blocking it because it is social and you may have to look at my bookmarks at home!!!
I would be interesting to hear how you are getting on with your Chromebooks.
What advice can you share about how you are using them.
What questions do you want to ask?