It’s Been a While Now, so Time for a New Challenge

Since the #30DayChromeBookChallenge ended, I can honestly say I’ve barely touched the Chromebook. For about a week or so, I still used it exclusively in school. I left it at school and used my MacBook Pro at home. It worked well. No computers to schlep around, no power cords to worry about…all was good.

But then something happened. Something big. Something life-changing.

I got an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.

Now: a quick disclaimer. I am an Apple fan-boy. I love Apple products, and all my personal tech stuff is Apple. So I’m a little biased here.


Wow. What a joy to use this iPad Pro. Since getting the iPad, I’ve barely touched the Chromebook. Here’s a quick run-down of why:

  • I can mark–formatively or summatively–with my iPad, right from Classroom
  • I can put grades on PowerSchool with the iPad
  • I can text message (hello again, iMessage!), email with personal or work email, create music, edit video, shoot video, draw, and tweet with ease with the iPad
  • It’s a fraction of the size and weight of the Chromebook
  • It’s sexy as all get-out
  • Touch-ID!

But, you may ask, can’t you do most of those on your Chromebook? Most of them, yes. And that’s where I think I’ll take it from here, in the


What exactly can and will I do with an iPad Pro in the next month? Let’s see where I can push this device and see what corners of the educational world I can reach. Come with me!

That’s All, Folks…

The #30DayChromeBookChallenge is over. Have I succeeded? Perhaps. But much like @MrFiliplic’s journey, mine was filled with fits and starts.

Everything big has already been posted elsewhere, but there’s one thing that I need to follow up on: screen recording and creation of videos. I never quite got what I wanted done (schedule and time), but I did end up experimenting a bit. Screencastify is a great Chrome extension that is generally pretty solid. However, I noticed that a website rendered differently on my Chromebook and my Windows Desktop computer at school. So, I thought, I’ll do a video of the website on my CB, save it in Drive, and then do a video on my school’s computer, and then use my Apple Clips to link them together.

Well. Screencastify didn’t work on the desktop. It got stuck in a loop of logon screens, and I never was able to turn it on. I gave up.

So that was a fail for video. I’ll keep trying, but I’m not 100% confident in a full outcome.

Conclusions at the end:

Mixed thoughts here. Again, I think @MrFiliplic said it all best, but I’ll add one big thing here. For me, it wasn’t as much the Chrome ecosystem part of the challenge that bothered me, but the hardware of the particular Chromebook I was using. Let me say it is a solid machine. Reliable, useful, etc. But compared to my MacBook Pro, it just can’t compare. So part of me feels unfair judging it on the hardware, because you CAN get $1000+ Chromebooks. I’m sure the hardware is solid and great.

But as a person who does a bit of music creation, writing, and uses pro apps for these things, the Chromebook just doesn’t live up. I use Logic Pro X for my music, and Scrivener for my writing. Apple Music for listening. These can’t be matched on any Chromebook.

So in the end, it’s a great machine, but not for me personally. Great for work–and barely limiting. For the regular teacher that’s not into big tech stuff and power apps, then I think a Chromebook comes highly recommended. They take a little getting used to and some workarounds to figure out, but overall they are pretty solid. Still, I am a long-term Mac guy, and the Chrome ecosystem isn’t quite what I get on Mac OS. Not a bad thing, just different.

It’s been a fun ride for the past month, and I know I’ll still continue to use it and explore as I learn more.

Almost Everything

Well, I’ve been following the #30DayChromebookChallenge, and I’ve done nearly all my work on the CB for school. The one big snag I’m hitting is the fact that our gradebook system doesn’t run online, and I need a specific program for it. Thus, I can only run that program on my desktop or my MacBook Pro. For those heavy lifting items, I still need something beyond the CB.

In the past few days, I’ve done more grading through Google Classroom on it, and using it with Google Docs is pretty slick. Not a dream–nothing on the CB is a dream, per se–but it worked well and did everything I needed. As @MrFiliplic said in his posts, when the Chromebook is working in the Google Ecosystem, it shines.

In our school, we’ve confidently ordered a big set of Chromebooks for student use, and just today I ordered a few more for use on an individual basis. So for recommendations so far? Yes–if used for school. Perhaps these aren’t for people that need to do “real” work on a computer–they’re just too light. But if everything is done online, it’s a nice, cheap, decent machine.

An issue came up today with a new student, and trying to set up translation help for him on a CB. We found it to be a bit cumbersome, and there wasn’t a great way immediately that we found that helped us out. But with a few more app extension experiments, I’m pretty confident we can find a good solution.

So overall–it does everything I need it to. Well, almost everything. And that’s enough for now.


About 1/2 Done with the Challenge!

From what I see at @MrFiliplic, I see that we’re nearly 1/2 done with the #30DayChromeBookChallenge!  Time flies. I don’t have a lot to add beyond what he said–we’re having nearly the exact same experience. You can read about his adventures here.

Similar to Mr F, I’ve found myself barely using my desktop computer. Nearly everything that I do on that I can do on my Chromebook. The two biggest things are to run our Broadcast in the morning (which I’ve never tried on this device…worth giving it a shot even though I’m nearly 100% positive it won’t work) and for using GradeBook. As Gradebook requires a program install, I can’t run it on here. Still, it’s taken over nearly 90% of all my classroom computer use. It’s been a very versatile machine, and generally is handy.

In terms of typing a lot on it, I’m not a huge fan. My fingers don’t love the keyboard as much as my Mac, but these things are often a matter of muscle memory and personal taste. Also, if I’m fair, I’m rarely sitting properly at a table using the computer–I’m walking around with it, talking to students, at my desk, at their desk, moving, etc etc. So while, sure–that type of typing won’t be super comfortable–still, it’s a reality of teaching and if the typing isn’t comfortable in those situations, then perhaps that’s a design element that could be improved upon.

I don’t use the touchscreen too often, but I have noticed I’ve gone back to touching the screens of our desktops at the school expecting them to interact with me. So while I agree with Steve Jobs on this (“Turns out, people don’t like using a touchscreen in this way”), I also can see the usefulness of having the capability around as well. Jury’s still out on it.

I’ll keep going, and see what else I can do. Sill trying to get that video made. 🙂 Baby steps.


Online, Offline

Same work with the Chromebook. I tried to record a video tutorial using Screencastify, but that ended up in failure last night. Not a Chromebook error, but rather the site I was trying to use could only be accessed when I was on the district network. So I’ll try again tomorrow.

I’m setting up some Google Sheets for various uses, and found the offline work that the Chromebook allows to be pretty slick. I worked on the Sheets while my daughter was at gymnastics, and when I got home, they uploaded and saved right away to my Drive. Pretty slick.

So for now I’m at a stale-mate. I need to challenge myself more on this, but haven’t been able to really get the challenge going yet. I’m looking for more difficult stuff to do. Suggestions? 🙂


Weekend, O Weekend

We went away for Saturday and much of Sunday. I brought my Chromebook with me, along with my MacBookPro. Just in case. I ended up using my MBP, but just for checking Facebook a bit, looking for directions to the church we were visiting, and that was about it. Played some music on my iTunes. So totally didn’t need the MBP, but it was nice to use.

Didn’t touch my Chromebook until Sunday night, when I worked on lesson plans, catching up on some emails, etc. Then I had a plan. Talking to a colleague, we realized we needed a video for kids to use to help them figure out how to fill out notes packets if they just had their phone or tablet. So I took out my iPhone (6s…about a year and a half old) and worked on the video. I used the iOS 11 screen record to record my movements in and throughout apps, and then dumped that into Apple Clips to add my vocals, an intro, soundtrack, etc. Very easy to do. Took me a while because I kept messing up what I said, but not because it was hard to do.

From there, I shared the video to the colleague, posted it to two of my Google Classrooms, uploaded it to YouTube, and shared it to a third Google Classroom (one for us in Social).

Could I have done this on my Chromebook? Well, other than the iOS recording and use. I’d have to say Yes, I could have. I’m hoping–as I mentioned before–to work on that this week and create a similar video on how kids can complete notes using a Chromebook. I’m hoping it will be as easy as it was to create on my phone.

Into the week we go!


Personally Professional

Finished a full week now on the Chromebook. Overall, a pretty successful week. I’m actually really liking my lesson plan format with Google Docs, and find it more accessible and useable than I had with the PDF version I used to use. So for now this method is a keeper.

I’ve been “working” on my website, which is related to work, but also not 100% directly tied to it. I mentioned in my previous post that I was working on app icon creation. Today I stumbled upon Adobe Spark, which is all browser-based, and I used that to create an app icon that I’m pretty happy with.

Adobe Spark-2

So while this is personal, it is also professional. And totally able to be done on a Chromebook.

So at the end of week 1, my thoughts are still the same, but very happy with my progress so far. Next step for exploration for me is to start working on deeper stuff like screen casting (tried it yesterday and failed miserably), audio/video creation. Let’s see where this goes!


Roadblock/Beyond My Ability

So today I tried to update the app icon image that this website puts on a phone’s home screen when you save it to an iPhone (or Android, I presume). Right now, it is a cropped image of the header of this site–sand dunes from Abu Dhabi.

But it doesn’t look professional, does it? (Try it out–save to your homescreen!)

To fix it, I went online (using my Chromebook) to search for app icon creators that are free and work in-browser. I found a few, tried them out, but they were terrible. So I searched a bit more, and kept seeing the same thing: it should be done in Adobe Illustrator.

I’ve got Illustrator on my Mac, but I’ve never played with it. I’m not a designer or very artistic that way, so it’s unexplored country. Still–I was at a roadblock. To get what I needed, professionally, I had to use a full OS beyond ChromeOS. So I opened up my Mac, after letting it lay dormant for the past week.

After exploring more, I suddenly realized another thing: what I intended to do in Illustrator is WAY beyond my comfort level and ability right now. Something else I’ll need to learn! I also know I’ll be using my Mac soon for personal music creation in LogicProX, so I’ll also be playing with Illustrator then as well. In the meantime, I’m going to push my Chromebook to try to sketch out ideas using Google Keep so that once I figure Illustrator out a little bit, I’ll have some ideas to work with.

The consensus after all of this: the Chromebook is super useful but not enough for the heavy user, or professional. Still, it’s been pretty good all week for handling the lighter tasks. Great for a secondary device or a student. And for the price that these things cost, I’d say that’s a pretty reasonable expectation.


Day 4 with Chromebook: Steady as She Goes

First up: I need a name for this machine. My Macbooks and iPhones have always been named, and I need to continue the tradition. @MrFiliplic is calling his CB, but I need something with flair. Pizazz. Sparkle.

Anyway, today I did normal stuff with the Chromebook. Lesson plans were created Sunday night using Google Docs (along with learning to create a Table of Contents with it), and I updated them yesterday and today. Worked pretty well. Used the tablet feature to take attendance and explain some work today, and that all went well.

In terms of the tablet feature, it works pretty easily, but I find the screen has a tendency to rotate and swap orientations. I’m sure I can lock it in a certain orientation, but I haven’t investigated yet.

We were also given a pen to go along with our machine, and as a stylus it works decently, but there’s a strange feature with it. It has a clicker at the top, and for the life of me I can’t figure out what it’s for. Of course, I’ll have to Google it, but it’s certainly not obvious or intuitive. A small problem, but still a problem for a casual user. I love playing with this stuff and I can’t seem to figure it out. Of course, it will probably turn out to be something totally easy and obvious. Figures.

For now, I’ll keep on keeping on. I’ve downloaded the new iOS11 for my iPhone, and am working on creating some videos with Apple Clips and the new screen recording feature. I’ll then try to upload them to my Google Drive and deal with the rest of it on my Chromebook.

Until next time…