Sunday, February 21, 2016

Chromebook Drama

   First let me start out this post by saying, this is somewhat of a rant, and somewhat of a timeline that I've been through to find new things, cool things, and in some cases I may have bitten off more than I can chew!

   I've been blessed to work at schools with plenty of technology, but not all technology is created equal.  More recently my challenge is making the Chromebook compatible with all the STEM projects I want to do for my students.  Recently we embarked on a Zoo creation project.  Students have spent the last few weeks researching zoos, animals, and habitats.  My ultimate goal was have students create a habitat using SketchUp and put that 3D habitat into a playground using the software Playing Mondo.  It is a bit of an ambitious project, but the student will be able to do so much with the Playing Mondo (PM) software as time goes by that I knew I wanted to try everything I could.  Enter the dragon... or Chromebook in my case.

   First... most programs that are compatible with PM aren't compatible with the Chromebook.  For instance, SketchUp works wonderfully with Windows, Mac, and I believe even Linux... but not with Chromebook.  I found a way to navigate this process which has taken some genius work with our IT department, but it still isn't in place.  What I proposed was that SketchUp be downloaded to a server and the students be given remote access to that server.  Imagine my surprise when IT said that it was possible.  The only downer is that IT is trying to figure out how to not give students access to the other items on that server.  So I sit and wait.

   Then another amazing idea popped in my head.  I decided to take a look at other 3d generation programs that might be compatible with PM, and ran across a program called Blender.  Well of course, it isn't Chromebook compatible, but I happened across an amazing YouTube video that made me realize, I can make this work!

As a matter of fact using "Roll App" it is doable and there are so many more apps coming within the program, that this may be a really useful tool in the future.  Then I noticed... WOW, this is really technical for 5th graders!  It may be time to scale down my daydream and put into practice a really cool reality that won't frustrate my students!

    Some things I've learned:

1.  Get a great list of Chromebook shortcuts (it is a necessity).  You can pretty much google this and come up with all kinds of resources.

2.  Once you have a great project idea, check to see if it will be Chromebook Compatible... I'm having a hard time finding a whole lot that is.

3.  If it isn't Chromebook compatible, get creative with your searches.  Chances are a hacker has figured out how to make it work.  You just want to be careful that it isn't a hack that is so technical your kids can't accomplish it.

Man I love my job!  What will I learn next?

Care to share your expertise?  I would love to hear about your experiences.