Chromebook remote support

Once you start using Chromebooks in your Google Apps district, you'll start having people call you about issues. Your clients are out there and you are, well, somewhere else. You'll want to find some way of providing support for your users from a distance.

A temporary fix would be to have a couple of spare Chromebooks on hand. It takes under a minute for a student to grab another computer, start it up and log in. Whatever issue that other device was having is inconsequential as long as there is a spare on hand.

Of course spares aren't always available. One option is to use Google Hangouts which have a remote desktop feature that would allow you to reach across the distance and offer a helping hand. Of course, if you're giving students access to Google Hangouts, you'll be opening up an entirely new set of issues surrounding privacy and student safety. Its a tough call.  (Please don't confuse this with the Chrome Remote Desktop App.  That won't work with Chromebooks. Ironic, I know.)

There is always the option of using a third party remote desktop application like AccessToGo. Depending on your firewall's settings, the particular brand of Chromebook you've procured and your bandwidth this may or may not work for you.

The take away message is this: Don't count on the kind of simple and dependable remote support you've seen from Apple and Microsoft. Chromebooks are going to be a different animal altogether.


Edit video on Chromebooks with WeVideo

Image of LaptopChromebooks are becoming a popular choice for schools around the US. Some teachers, though have expressed concern over what seems to be limited functionality. After all, if you can only produce content online, how are teachers supposed to do things like video creation?

WeVideo is the best tool I've found to give kids the tools to create, store and share video projects. This is primarily because it's free and it publishes videos directly to Google Drive. Note the use of the word "publish" instead of "save". Here is how it works: You create videos on their servers and are then given the option to publicly publish your video to the internet. In the free version, all videos are public by default. Once you publish the video to your Google Drive account however, making it private is simple. Just adjust the Sharing settings as you would with any other file. Keep in mind that if you have any privacy concerns, you'll have to be careful to adjust the sharing settings to every video you produce.

This option to save to Google Drive is important. First, it gives you immediate control over who may see your students' videos. For example, share the videos with parents, but prevent anyone else for seeing them. You'll also have a simple way of managing all those video files that come in. Put them into folders and organize them in a way that makes sense for you. The Google Drive app provides even more power. With it, those videos can be streamed (without being saved) to mobile devices. If you have the app yourself, you'll be able to take video with a smartphone and simply upload them to your Drive account. From there, you'll be able to edit them with WeVideo.

There are other video editors out there that are both free and produce a decent final video. Thus far, all of them have fatal flaws. Consider Youtube editor. The final result is in Youtube's proprietary format which means you have to use a third party application to download the video. Possibly more problematic is that Youtube is blocked in many school districts, so this wouldn't even be an option. Other video editors store your finished product on their own servers which may be fine. However, they just might reserve the right to use your video as part of their promotional material. "Free" accounts often come with some strings attached. So give this a try and let me know what you think.