Chromebook use at the LCA

Here’s how you can run on a Chromebook: Basics of using a Chromebook as a student

Good news: we now have 25 Chromebooks, so that you will only ever need to use one of two Chromebooks assigned to you. I’ve assigned every student a primary Chromebook and a secondary Chrombook. If all the Chromebooks are charged up and working, there will never be two students needing the same one. Please take only your primary Chromebook. Let me know if there is a problem and then use the secondary one.

You use a Google account to use a Chromebook (with a few exceptions).

  • A Google account is completely separate from a gmail account.
    • A gmail account only gets you access to email.
    • A Google account gets you access to your Google Drive – this place, and only this place, is where you will store anything you want to save.
    • It also lets you log into the Chromebook. You can browse as a guest, but your work won’t be saved for the next time you open the computer. When you’re logged in with your Google account, your work is saved, by default, and it can be accessed again on any computer in the world, effectively, and at any time.
  • You can create a Google account using any email address – e.g., yoohoo@yahoo.com.
      • Go to accounts.google.com
      • Create account
      • Enter your name
      • Enter an email account
      • Create a password. Most of you may choose not to make this the same as your email account password
    • You (or your parent) can create your account as if you are either a child under age 13 (your account is then a sub-account of your parent’s account) or as an adult. We’ll cover both cases, shortly.
    • Your Google account is free of charge. The only possible charges will come if you store more than 10 GB of files on your Google Drive
    • Some people worry about being tracked (e.g., parents concerned for their children using Google accounts to use our Chromebooks in class). Having a Google account does not add to the considerable exposure we all have from Facebook, Windows or Mac OS or Linus, Microsoft, etc. – all of which we can manage safely, anyhow, with some prudent choices and very common-sense use of Internet access. David Gutschick wrote up a rather comprehensive presentation of how our personal information is used on the Internet and how to be careful with it. I can send a copy, if you’d like.
  • Creating a Google account as a child, under age 13. This is the case when you (1) choose “Child” rather than “You” and (2) enter your true birthdate.
    • Your account is a sub-account of your parent’s account.
    • In general, this means you will need to have your parent’s permission every time to use the Chromebook (or the Google Drive on another machine). We want to avoid this, so have your parent set all parental permission off. You can sign in anytime without needing your parent to answer a phone call – this is critical, to keep the class going smoothly.
    • You still will need your parent to be with you the first time you sign into any of the school’s Chromebooks. When the Chromebook boots up:
      • Go to the bottom left and click on Add Person. Type in your name.
      •  Choose to add as Child
      • There are several prompts. At some point, your parent will need to enter his or her own Google account password. He or she will then have to respond to a phone message and choose “Yes, this is me.”
      • There are then options to decline – e.g., don’t set up Google Assistant, etc.
      • You’re in. Be sure to test that it works for you:
      • Sign out (click on the time bubble at lower right. The window expands and you can go to the top and select Sign Out)
      • Now when the welcome screen opens, select your name (if it’s not up already). Enter your parent’s Google account password. Be sure they have given it to you.
  • As an adult, age 13 or over. This is the case when you (1) choose “You” rather than “Child.” During the creation of your Google account you must enter a birthdate value that sets your age as 13 or older.
    • The first time you sign into any of the school’s Chromebooks you have to set up your account on it. When the Chromebook boots up:
      • Go to the bottom left and click on Add Person. Type in your name.
      •  Choose to add as “You.”
      • There are several prompts. At some point, you need your own Google account password. You may be asked for a phone number. Use your parent’s phone number. They may have to respond to a phone message to affirm the phone number.
      • There are then options to decline – e.g., don’t set up Google Assistant, etc.
      • You’re in. Be sure to test that it works for you:
      • Sign out (click on the time bubble at lower right. The window expands and you can go to the top and select Sign Out)
      • Now when the welcome screen opens, select your name (if it’s not up already). Enter your Google account password. Be sure they have given You can now access the Chrome browser, Google Docs for creating files, etc. The icons to get to these functions are at the bottom of the screen, on what’s called the shelf.
  • Once you’re signed in either way, as an adult or as a child, you have access to your Google Drive, where you may have stored photos or other kinds of files and folders. ABOVE ALL: Be sure you memorize your Google account password, or have it written down on a piece of paper you keep safe.

You can still use a Chromebook without a Google account. This is not the good option.

  • When the Chromebook opens up, just go to the bottom of the screen and click on Browse as guest.
  • When the Chrome browse opens up.
    • You can browse the Internet, going to any website.
    • You can get to your email account, such as by typing gmail.com in the browser address bar.
    • Your browsing history is not saved. It gets cleared when you log out. That is, you won’t see a convenient list of sites you visited so that you can use autocomplete for URLs.
    • You will not have access to your Google Drive, where you may have stored photos or other kinds of files and folders. You will not be able to save any projects that you create at scratch.mit.edu, nor in Google Colab.

About storing your results from scratch.mit.org (Scratch programming, drag-and-drop) or colab.research.google.com (programming in the Python language):

  • If you wish to store your project from scratch.mit.edu, you must do it onto your own Google Drive. I will give you instructions on how to do this from the Chromebook that you’re using at the time. (You can store to your Google Drive from ANY computer you may be using.) If you are in the Python programming class, your results in Colab will be saved automatically in Colab (but you have to take steps to save them to your Google Drive!).
  • It’s possible to store to the local disk drive on the Chromebook but this will be cleared almost every week. I clean off the drives because Chromebooks have very limited data storage. Anything you want to keep should be stored in your Google Drive.

OK, now let’s have fun and learn about computers and programming!