Another dot in the blogosphere?

Chromebook for facilitation

Posted on: August 30, 2016

I brought my new-ish Chromebook with me on consulting and teaching gigs. What both efforts have in common are:

  1. Connecting to the Internet for shared resources, e.g., Google Slides, Google Sites, other web resources.
  2. Sharing information by projecting it on a large screen.
  3. Highlighting or zooming in to specific information.

Like any laptop computer, a Chromebook is used differently as a facilitation tool compared to when it is used for browsing or creating content. I share how I set it up for facilitation.

Connecting to the Internet
Most organisations offer guest wifi that is as easy as to join as your home network. Institutes of higher learning (IHL), on the other hand, typically offer secure wifi. Their access points have names like AP-SECURE or APx.

Assuming you have been provided a valid user ID and machine-generated password, it might still not be as straightforward as typing these in when prompted. Unlike Mac or Windows systems, Chrome offers a rather intimidating connect dialogue box.

Chromebook join wifi network dialogue box.

I have found that selecting “PEAP” as the EAP method and “do not check” Server CA certificate seems to do the trick, but your mileage may vary.

The IHL might have a technical support site that provides this information, but you need to get this information in advance. Some information may be out-of-date. One site I visited had information for up to Windows 7 and way back to Windows Vista and XP!

Projecting information
My Chromebook has a very high screen resolution (1920×1080) and used to default to extended screens when hooked up to a projector. This would result in a small fuzzy projected image that you could only see if you pulled windows to the extended screen.

Chromebook display settings.

The way to get around this is to lower the projected resolution by trial and error. Each time you compromise between projected screen real estate and detail of information.

In earlier scenarios, I had to manually set the projection to mirror the laptop display each time I connected. Later on, the system defaulted to mirrored mode. This seemed to happen after I made the setting change for zooming.

Highlighting/Zooming information
I tend not to use a laser pointer because most people jiggle the dot to the point of distraction.

Instead, I use the computer cursor to highlight areas of interest, e.g., blocks of text, and/or zoom in to focus areas.

My bugbear when moving from a Mac was how awkward the simple task of zooming in and out is on a Chromebook.

One option is to simply increase the font size and everything else with CTRL+ (zoom in) and CTRL- (zoom out). However, this just makes everything bigger and you cannot focus on something, say, at the top right quadrant of the screen.

I tried a Chrome extension, but it did essentially the same thing.

Chromebook accessibility settings.

Then I found this workaround:

  • Enable accessibility setting: Settings > Show advanced settings > Select the box next to “Enable screen magnifier”
  • CTRL + ALT + brightness keys or CTRL + ALT + two finger swipes up and down on trackpad

The zooming in and out is not as smooth as on a Mac as it jumps in steps instead of pulling in and out like a zoom lens.

The Chromebook can sometimes lose focus too. For example, I zoomed in on a table element in a Google Doc that was embedded in a Google Site. The Chromebook scrolled the display back to the top left of the Google Site.

The main reason I persist with the Chromebook is how light it is when travelling. I do not need to bring the charger along and that saves on the weight I lug around.

I might decide to use my Mac when some presentations and facilitations require a smooth, seasoned look. I will need my Mac at an upcoming keynote as I plan on showing apps on my iPhone via my Mac to the projector.

But for basic presentations and facilitations where I can afford to try something different, I will opt for my Chromebook. This is a nice first world problem to have.

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