About this blog...

About this blog...
I started this blog in the Summer of 2012 after receiving my first Google Chromebook. In the Fall of 2012, I will be piloting a 1:1 Chromebook program in my middle school language arts classes (grades 6-8). I will also be completing my Master's degree in Instructional Technology in November 2012.

This blog serves two purposes:

1. It is a place for me to praise, rant, or otherwise ramble about my experiences with the Chromebook device and its use in the classroom.

2. It will serve as a depository for informal note taking as I prepare for my Masters (thesis) Capstone project.

I hope others find my thoughts, observations, and experiences useful. The Chromebook as an educational tool is still in its infancy. Good, comprehensive sources of information on its use and best practices are few and far between, save a few Google Groups and forums.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chromebook Limitations

My next quest was to try out as many apps, websites, or other tools as I could think of which make their rounds in my classroom. I knew that the Chromebook, being a netbook of sorts, would be somewhat limited. For instance, installing software is out of the question, but I shed few tears over that.

Perhaps the most profound deficiency at this point is the Chromebook's snubbing of Java. Apparently it has something to do with security. Ok, fair enough. The end result is that any applet requiring a Java plugin simply will not work - that is, unless you know how to make it work.

In the Chrome store, you can find and install a free little extension called rndr. Once installed, it is ready to use as an as-needed proxy for viewing sites with java applets, Silverlight, GoToMeeting, and a host of other plugins. For instance, if you find yourself on an interactive education site with the broken plugin graphic like this:

...you just click the little rndr button on the top right of your browser to run the site through rndr:

In addition to the new, fully functional java "X-Ray" tool on this page, notice the watermark at the bottom and the (rather annoying) options pull-out tab on the right.

Now before we all pull muscles doing the happy dance over this workaround, it has been widely reported that using the rndr extension circumvents school and district wide content filters. There are different ways of filtering content, however, and I have yet to test this out with my school's network level filter. I will report back as soon as I have the chance.

In the meantime, there are still some nuts that rndr still cannot crack, although they have an open request system for users who come across difficult sites, and they are supposedly issuing regular updates to meet those needs. I hit my first roadblock at Screencast-o-matic, which was a profound disappointment. I use this screen capture site to create tutorial videos, and I was hoping to use it on the Chromebook to give my students step-by-step guides in using theirs. It seems that rndr will allow the screen cast application to work, but since it just acts as a proxy for the site itself, it will not transfer the application to other windows, tabs, or pages. Screenr and other popular alternatives have the same issue.

Some java-heavy game sites don't work well or at all even with rndr either. Runescape is one I checked out for testing purposes, since they tend to push java to the limit. No dice, but that' not one I'd most likely use in class anyway.

The good news is that the vast majority of my favorite educational sites passed with flying colors, even without rndr. Here are some links just to share:


This is by no means a complete list, and my testing is no where near finished. As usual, one just has to try things out as they come.

1 comment:

  1. Interested in your continued journey. I teach 1:1 using a class set of CR-48s and am interested in workarounds and solutions to their limitations. I'm especially interested in finding SOME way to make screencasts, and have run into the same problems with Screencast-o-matic and Screenr. I'll stay tuned!