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Record, trim, share, and viewtranscribed screencasts with the new Screencast app on Chrome OS.

Make video creation capabilities available to everyone in your class with the Screencast app built into Chrome OS. Educators can record, trim, transcribe and share lessons or demos to build a custom library of recordings. Students can create their own screencasts to share their ideas and what they’ve learned, or access lessons if they missed a class or need homework help. You can even draw or write on the screen using a touchscreen or stylus to diagram or illustrate key concepts. Recordings are stored on Google Drive, and can be accessed via link to the Screencast app – at college or from home. The new Screencast app will be available on Chrome OS M103.

We wanted to remind everyone about the importance of keeping your Chromebook up to date. Generally, keeping any device up to date is for the best. Whether it’s your Apple Mac, Windows Laptop, or Smartphone, updating your devices ensures you get the most up-to-date security patches and any of the latest features. Keeping your devices up to date helps to keep your data safe.

Before the half term, we saw a rise in classroom issues with Chromebooks, such as projectors not displaying what’s on the screen or the speakers not playing sound from Chromebooks. 9 times out of 10 these issues were resolved by running a quick update on the Chromebook. Whilst it can be a little frustrating that Google release updates so often, every week or two, it is important that you run them. The vast majority of the time the update will automatically download to your Chromebook as soon as it’s available, you will then have a notification telling you to restart to update.

You can see in the screenshot example above, it’s nice and easy to see that you’ve got an update. Just look for the little arrow in the circle to the left of the time. Just click on that, or the time, to access your notifications and the update will always be the first one visible in the list. Just click Restart to Update, it may take a couple of minutes to restart your Chromebook and apply the update but not only are you getting the latest security patches, you’re also avoiding any delays with the start of your lessons.

If something isn’t working as expected on your Chromebook, in the first case it’s best to check for an update before anything else. Even if there isn’t an update available it would be a good idea to at least restart your Chromebook.

You can check for updates yourself by clicking on the time, click the Settings cog, click About Chrome OS and then click Check for Updates.

A couple of days ago Adobe announced a big update to the Google Chrome Acrobat Extension. We now have basic editing capabilities for PDF’s. Some of the functionality you’re used to on Acrobat on a PC can now be completed on your Chromebook.

There’s a lot of waffle in the article so we’ll list the key features below but you can read the full article here if you wish.

  • Rotate, delete, or reorder PDF pages
    • You can also merge multiple PDF documents together. Or split a document into smaller documents.
  • Convert from PDF
    • Convert from PDF to a Word, Excel or Powerpoint document, webpage or a JPG.
  • Comments, markups and highlights
  • E-Signatures and Form Fields
    • No more printing, completing by hand then scanning back in.

Some of these features are free which means you can do these on your personal devices, others fall under the college’s Adobe subscription so as long as you sign in with your Barton Peveril account you’ll be able to use them.

If you haven’t got it already, you can add it from the Chrome Web Store. 

This was announced on the Adobe Blog on October 12th.

If your computer is too old or too slow to use effectively, you might want to consider installing Neverware CloudReady to it. This free software turns your computer into a Chrome OS computer, just like the college Chromebooks you’re used to. Before you get started, take a read through this whole page to familiarize yourself with CloudReady.

Minimum Hardware Requirements

  • RAM: 2GB or greater
  • Storage space: 16GB or more
  • BIOS: Full administrative access, in order to boot from the CloudReady USB installer
  • Processor and Graphics: Components made prior to 2007 will likely result in a poor experience. Additionally, the following graphics hardware does not meet performance standards on CloudReady: Intel GMA 500, 600, 3600, 3650

What do I need to get started?

  • A computer running the latest version of the Chrome browser.
  • An 8GB or greater USB stick
    • Note – Sandisk USB sticks can sometimes cause problems.
  • Time, we can’t say how much as it depends on a variety of factors.

Ready?

If your computer meets the hardware requirements, you have the necessary equipment and are happy with the ‘Important Information’ at the bottom of this page then we’re ready to create a USB Installer and install CloudReady to your computer.

Let’s get started!

Build your CloudReady Installer

  • If you have a Windows 7 or greater computer, download and run the USB Maker Tool to easily set up the USB with minimal fuss. This is the easiest method. Once that tool is finished, you can head straight to Step 2.
  • If you don’t have access to a Windows 7 or greater machine, it will take longer to create a USB stick and a bit more effort but it is possible.
    • Head to this link, look for the ‘Create a USB Installer Manually’ and click ‘Download 64-bit image’.
    • Once downloaded, click the relevant link based on what device you are using to create the installer. This is the guide on how to install the image to the USB stick.
  • If you have a Linux machine, follow these instructions.

Use the USB to install CloudReady to your computer

  1. Turn off the computer you want to install it to.
    1. Remember, this cannot be undone once it’s finished.
  2. Plug in the USB Installer. Remove all other USB sticks.
  3. Boot to your computers Custom Boot menu.
    1. Below is a list of the most common models and their corresponding keystroke:
      1. Dell – Tap F12 when the Dell logo is displayed.
      2. HP – Tap F9 when the HP logo is displayed.
      3. Lenovo – Tap F12 when the Lenovo logo is displayed.
      4. Apple – Hold Option (next to the ⌘ key) when the computer first turns on.
      5. Toshiba – Tap F12 or F2 when the Toshiba logo appears.
      6. Acer – Tap F12 as the Acer logo appears.
      7. Other – Try tapping Esc, F1-12, or Enter during bootup.
      8. If you can’t find your model, try looking online for the manual for your device.
  4. Use the arrow keys to highlight the relevant option. Hit Enter once you’ve picked the right one.
    1. You will need to look for either the brand name of the USB or something along the lines of ‘USB Device or ‘USB Storage’.
  5. If you’ve done everything correct so far, before long you’ll see a white splash screen with the CloudReady logo.
  6. Once you see the Welcome screen, click the time in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  7. Click Install OS.
  8. Read through the disclaimer and if you agree, click INSTALL CLOUDREADY…
  9. You will now get your absolutely final warning, if you’re still happy, click ERASE HARD DRIVE & INSTALL CLOUDREADY
  10. Depending on the speed of the USB device and the target hard drive, this process should take between 5 and 20 minutes. When the installation has finished, your machine will shut itself down completely.
  11. When you’re sure your machine is powered down, unplug your CloudReady USB Installer and power the device back on.
    1. Note: During the install process, your machine may become idle or dim it’s display. Be sure to use the keyboard or touchpad to check if the machine is fully powered off before removing the USB.

Setup

  1. When you turn the device on for the first time, you’ll see the same Welcome screen as before. Click Let’s Go to begin.
  2. If you are using a laptop, this is where you will need to connect it to your wifi.
    1. If you are using a network cable, it should automatically connect to the internet.
  3. Choose whether or not to participate in Anonymous Data Collection Policy then click Continue.
  4. All Done! You can now log in and use your Chrome OS device! Congratulations.

In the Settings menu of the device, you may want to look for the ‘Media Plugins’ menu and install extra components to allow you to get the best experience.

Important Information – MUST READ

  • Although we recommend CloudReady, Barton Peveril cannot support it if you have issues. We also accept no responsibility or liability for anything that may occur in your use of CloudReady.
    • As this is a free application, Neverware do not give access to technical support.
    • You can find some helpful information on their Knowledgebase.
    • You can ask a question for help on their forum.
  • Neverware has a list of over 350 devices they have certified CloudReady to work on. You can find this here – Certified List.
    • If your computer isn’t on that list, it may still work with CloudReady, head to this link to find out more information.
  • You MUST back up your data. CloudReady will completely wipe everything from your computer.
    • We recommend backing up to Google Drive as it will be easy to access this from the CloudReady computer once it’s created.
  • You CANNOT go back once installed. When we say it wipes everything we mean everything.
    • Windows, Mac OS, Linux or whatever operating system you have will be completely removed.

Teachers can set their own exams using the ChromEx platform for their students to access on a Chromebook.

There are some great benefits to using ChromEx:

  • You can set it up yourself to be run in your lesson, no need to ask MIS to set anything up
  • Chromebooks are ‘locked’ so students can’t access the internet
  • Students can log in with their normal details so no need to remember an extra login
  • At the end of the exam, the work is instantly saved in to the Google Drive of the teacher who set up the exam

Setting up an exam

Teachers can just head to this link and log in with their college Google account to get started – https://app.chromex.io/#/exams

How does a student take the exam?

A student just needs to select ChromEx in the bottom left of the Chromebook BEFORE logging in.

Then when they are asked to log in to the ChromEx platform, the just need to use their normal college Google credentials.

We have been investigating the use of classroom technology that might help reduce the dependency on Windows PCs. We also wanted to utilise Chromebooks better and enable teachers to wirelessly present to the classroom projector or screen. We wondered whether we could adapt a standard, consumer Chromecast device for use in the classroom. After some trial and error, we eventually found a good way of connecting Chromecasts to the College network in a secure and easily accessible way.

This screencasting service will allow:

  • Wireless connection to the screen – no need to fiddle with cables;
  • Casting from Chromebooks, tablets, and phones;
  • Cast just one Chrome tab or your entire screen.

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