I was working on a review when this came across my desk. Here is the short story. A teacher noticed that a student had another person’s email open while on their Chromebook. At first, the thinking was that they had signed into that Chromebook as that person (which is not a great idea). Upon further investigation, it turns out that the student in question was properly signed into their own Chromebook but somehow was able to open up someone else’s Gmail next to their own.
Before I go and detail how this happened, this is simply wrong. I cannot think of having a student log into another student’s email account as a good thing. Whether they’re friends and share passwords (another bad idea) or not that should be squashed.
I am going to detail how this works and what you or your Google Admin needs to do to fix it.
I saw this article on the Verge titled What’s the best student laptop? We asked students by Monica Chin. Being I am in IT and education I am always interested in these articles and this one asks students themselves. What would students say they like? Here is a group of people who typically don’t have a lot of spending power, so I was curious what they would suggest. Needless to say I was pretty disappointed.
I am quite interested in this. I have seen some Chromebooks with touchscreens and even a few of those may have a stylus, but the quality of those Chromebooks may leave a little something to be desired.
Then I saw this article in Engadget that says Wacom now has a drawing tablet that works with Chromebooks – no drivers or software installation needed! If you’re not familiar with Wacom, they make some of the best drawing tablets in the world. They also have some entry level tablets too which is where the One by Wacom (lousy name) comes into play. Continue reading “Chromebook + Wacom tablet? Interesting”→
I know I’m not the first (not even close!) to do this but I figured it would be a good post anyway. We now have a self-checkout station in our library, so our students can check out books on their own. This post will show how we set it up and implemented it, which was easier than I originally thought it would be.
Hardware & Requirements
OK, let’s talk about what we used to make this happen.
We decided to use a Chromebook because it is pretty cheap, doesn’t take up a bunch of space and is portable. Also, it is very easy to manage.
We also gave the Chromebook its own scanner. This was a little more expensive than I thought and we made sure it had a base that it could sit in so students didn’t have to pick it up. Also, we want one that is a little heavy duty so it will last. Think of this as an investment. You can certainly find bar code scanners for much, much less but I firmly believe you get what you pay for here. This one in the picture is $150 USD.
We also used a label printer to print off student barcodes. We used a Brother label maker with its P-Touch software. This software lets us point it to a spreadsheet so we can design a simple template with tags in it and then print merge out all the labels for a grade level or school in one go.
This is a newer model than what we use but the labels in the end should be the same.
Here is a sample of what one of our student labels looks like.
We use these are sticks to affix a label to that will have a student’s name and patron number as a barcode. We use some plastic heavier duty sticks instead of paint sticks thought paint sticks would probably work just as well. I do know these are more expensive than paint sticks but they’re already colorful, don’t break easily and won’t give any kids splinters.
I’m not sure what ours are called but I’ll find out later and update the post with that info soon.
So our library (like many others) uses Follett Destiny to manage our collection; however, I believe that if you used another database that this could still work for you providing that it is web based like Destiny is. Even if it is run locally on your own network – there may be a place for a local user to log in and checkout books through a web browser. If so, then you could possibly set this up provided you would be able to create or modify roles in that system.
Self-Checkout Access Levels and User
In order for this to work we had to create a user in Destiny that can “check out” books. What we don’t want though is for that user to be able to forgive fines, remove books from the collection and basically bring upon an apocalypse.
Lucky for us, Destiny has lots of options and I’ll show you how we made this user.
First, you need to log in as an administrator in Destiny. Then go to Back Office. From here select Access Levels. Here we can create the role and then we will create the user.
When you are at the Access Levels screen go ahead and click on Add Access Level.
From here make sure you do the following:
Give it a memorable name
Change the Automatic log out to 240 minutes (this is the max time before the system logs the user out)
Change the Reset Circulation time to 120 seconds (or whatever you feel is appropriate)
Make sure the Collection Role is Student
Make sure the only access is Check out library materials
Then click Save.
Now we will stay on the Back Office page and but switch from Access Levels to Manage Patrons. Click on the Add New Patron button.
This will create a new patron or user. You need to fill in the information circled in the picture:
Access Level (make sure you select the one you just made)
Putting it together
On the Chromebook, we navigated to Destiny and had the librarian log in as our Sample Student. You should see that there are no options to search, check in or do anything else on Destiny except checkout books – perfect!
Now that all the hardware, access level and user are in in place here is what it looks like. I apologize for the mess, this was taken on a Friday afternoon before Spring Break – so a lot of students had returned books.
On Chrome, I zoomed into 150% so it is a little easier for anyone to see what has been checked out.
How it works
Here is how it all works together. A student has their library stick with their barcode printed on it. They pick out the book(s) they want and bring it to the self-checkout station. They scan their library stick which will bring up their account. Then they scan their books one at a time.
When they finish, they then use the trackpad on the Chromebook to click the Reset button. This resets the system and gets it ready for the next student to checkout.
If the system is inactive for 120 seconds it will automatically reset itself and after 240 minutes it will need to be re-logged in.
Details to know
We just set this up but have already had first graders use it and it went pretty well. If a student checks out too many books the system will require for an administrator to put in their username and password to accept it. If not, it will not check out that final book(s) they want.
Putting the self-checkout screen in full screen mode is also highly recommended. This will hide the address bar, bookmarks and any other tabs that may be open.
That reset button is the only real sticky point I can see. Signage is one time tutorial with the students is highly recommended but I figure after one (maybe two visits) students will be good to go. We tried it yesterday with first grade students and didn’t have too many problems!
There should be a librarian, teacher or aid nearby most times just in case.
My apologies IT Babblers – I should have posted this a while ago. At any rate check out the latest episode of the IT Babble podcast. Tony and I discuss imaging difficulties with Mac OS High Sierra, AirTame and what it means to be Tech Savvy. As always you can find us on iTunes or on your favorite podcasting app.
World Cup Fever & 4th of July
Important High Sierra Changes for IT Admins by Adam Engst of TidBITS
Guess what I discovered this week with the Chromebooks in my classroom?? Well, if you see the picture above this post, you probably can guess – BroPro. This is a VPN Chrome Extension. It basically lets people (students mostly) get around the school’s web filters to visit sites that they shouldn’t such as games, social media sites and so on. You might be thinking Well I will just report this to the IT department and they will block it. That is a good idea, and exactly what we did at our school, but then something weird happened.
You see once it was blocked, it did not delete the extension from accounts. the BroPro extension was still there but it couldn’t do what it was supposed to do and so accessing any website became impossible. It kept returning an error about the proxy setting. Now here is the real weirdness. This extension, though only installed on one user profile, affected the entire system. So no matter who logged in, BroPro kept them from accessing any websites.
As a teacher, we can’t manage our students accounts (believe me – this is a good thing), so here is how we got around it. On the login screen for Chromebooks anyone can delete a user account from that particular Chromebook.
When you delete a user from a Chromebook it will also delete all their user data from that computer. This means that the BroPro extension will also go bye-bye and thus return the Chromebook to working order. Check out the link below to learn how to delete a user from a Chromebook.