Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Chrome App Builder


Streamlined...

The Metropolitan School District of Steuben County is a full 1:1 Chromebook program. It has been quite a transition this year as kindergarten through second-grade students had iPads the previous year. The main difficulty of the process has been the streamlined user experience with the iPad. As far as availability of content for young learners is concerned, the iPad still reigns supreme. So one of my tasks has been thinking of ways that I can streamline the experience on a Chromebook as much as possible for my k-2 folks via the Google Admin Console. 

One idea I have tried is utilizing Symbaloo as a starting page for each grade level. I do this by adding a startup page in the Device Management settings. I also turned on the "home button" so that students can get back to the page at any time by tapping on it. (Believe it or not, the home button is off by default.) I add items to the Symbaloo pages items per teacher request, but I am noticing that this also causes confusion between what is available as a Chrome App and what is available on Symbaloo. So the big question is: Can you make websites that are not in the Chrome Webstore appear as apps on a Chromebook? 

Chrome App Builder

After doing some research, I found that indeed I can make websites appear as apps. I did this through some guides I had found from Google. It took a lot of time and effort to roll out one app for students, so I found a shortcut with the Chrome App Builder. This tool does all of the coding for you. The only additional thing you'll have to add to it is your own custom icon. 

So what does this mean for teachers? Not much unless you have access to the Google Admin Console or have access to developer mode on your Chromebook. This post is primarily for those that have the ability to push out content to Chromebooks. So this is to let teachers know that it is possible. 

What does this mean for Google Admins? You can push out custom website apps through your domain, and some time can be saved with the Chrome App Builder.

Here is what you will need:
  1. Access to the Google Admin Console
  2. An image editor for custom sized icons (Google Drawings)
  3. Chrome App Builder
  4. Developer mode in Chrome
  5. A Developer Dashboard account
I apologize for the length of this video, but there are quite a few steps. I attempted to cut out as much as possible. 



Streamlining the Process Even More

This is quite a bit of work if you need to create several apps. It isn't my full-time job to maintain our Chrome Devices. I still need to train teachers and students and find and develop resources for them. So my idea is to recruit the High Tech Hornets (Angola High School student tech team), to create the app, and download the packaged app ready to go. That way all I have to do is upload it to the Developer Dashboard and push out as a Domain App in the Google Admin Console. Sounds like a great job for the High Tech Hornets!