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Chromebook Tech Tips
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Morris Area Schools

Tech Tips for Chromebook (and iPad) Users

Last Revision December 10, 2020


Table of Contents

Table of Contents        1

NWEA Testing Issues        2

This app can’t be Activated when UAC is disabled        3

Zoom (and General) Connection Issues        3

Tips for starting or participating in a Zoom meeting on a Chromebook.        6

Poor Network Performance        7

Other Application issues        9

Contacting the Help Desk        10

Miscellaneous Tips        10

Capturing a Screen Print        11

iPad Troubleshooting Tips        12

NWEA Testing Issues

Access

Click on this link to learn how to access NWEA testing.  

Troubleshooting

There are two primary reasons for the NWEA testing process to fail.  The first is due to an old Operating Systems version.   The second is the screen resolution.  

Verify and Upgrade the Operating System (OS) Version

  1.  Log into the Chromebook with your Student ID
  2. Click in the lower right corner of the screen in the time area  
  3. Click on the Gear/Snowflake shaped icon in the upper right corner
  4. Click on “About Chrome OS” (figure 1)
  5. Click on Check for updates.   The system will check and then download and install any necessary updates to the operating system.   This could take several minutes.   When done, a restart button will appear.   Click to restart the system.

Video link here showing the process.

Adjusting Screen Resolution

  1. Log into the Chromebook with your Student ID
  2. Click on the lower right corner of the screen in the time area
  3. Click the Gear/Snowflake shaped icon in the upper right corner
  4. Click on Device in the left menu pane
  5. Click on Displays
  6. Move the slider to the right of display size towards “Small” and stop when the 100% indicator is displayed.
  7. Ensure the Orientation is at 0° (Default)

        Click on this link for a video on how to change resolution.

This app can’t be Activated when UAC is disabled

A document, video or sound file won’t open when you click on it.  Sometimes this occurs when saving the file in Google Drive or Google Classroom.

  1. Right click on the file and “choose default program”
  2. Choose a standard program to open the file.

Zoom (and General) Connection Issues

The majority of the Zoom challenges involve the quality and speed of the Internet service at the location of the Chromebook.   This could be a limitation in the home environment, or possibly an overdemand at the service provider in our area.  The High School and Elementary  systems are constantly monitored and have sufficient Internet bandwidth to handle our needs.  Typically a failure with the school system resources results in most, if not all, of the students failing to connect to Zoom or other applications.  To establish an Internet connection “baseline”, continue with the Test Local Internet Bandwidth process below.

Remember Your Home WiFi on Your Chromebook

Click on this link for a video on how to set up your Chromebook to remember your home Wi-Fi.

Test Camera and Microphone

Click on this link for a video on how to test your Chromebook camera and microphone.

Test Local Internet Bandwidth

  1. Log into Speed test by opening a browser window.  This could be on the Chromebook or any other PC on the same network.
  2. In the URL field, enter:    speedtest.net    and press enter
  3. When the site fully loads, click on the rather large “GO” button in the middle of the screen.  
  4. After a few moments of testing, a Ping, Download, and Upload speed will be displayed.    In general, a Zoom session requires a minimum of 700-900kb of upload and download speed (for each simultaneous Internet session) to be modestly successful and at least 3MB to be smooth running, flawless interaction.  So if there are multiple students or other network users at home using the Internet at the same time, simply figure 1mb bandwidth needed for each person  that is using video services like Zoom.  

It's a good idea to run this test several times during the day, especially when things appear to be running slow or you experience disconnections to verify that it is, or is not, your Internet service speed.

Real Time Zoom Statistics

Retrieving data about your current, in-progress Zoom meeting can be very helpful in understanding if your Internet connection, Chromebook, or Wi-Fi is the reason for a poor quality Zoom video  session.   Data about your Internet connection can be obtained from your active Zoom meeting in three simple steps.   First, click on the up arrow to the right of the Stop Video icon in the bottom left corner of  your active Zoom meeting window.  Second, click on the video settings option in the resulting window.   Finally, click on the Statistics tab at the top of the Settings window.  A window similar to the one below will appear.  Of key concern are the top three data points -- Latency, Jitter, and Packet Loss.  In the example meeting below, latency is 70ms and 59ms of which both are very good.   Anything at 100ms or lower is a good number.   A number over 150 will certainly cause a choppy or skipping video stream.  For Jitter, we are seeing 10ms (sending from the Chromebook) and 4ms (receiving from the meeting host to the Chromebook) of average Jitter.  Again, both are very good numbers.   Jitter over 150ms will start to impact the quality of the video.   Finally, and possibly the most disruptive is packet loss.   In the example meeting below we see 0% for both send and receive.   High packet loss numbers over 8-10% can severely degrade the video quality to the point of the meeting being unusable.   Your Zoom meeting quality can be impacted by any one of these individual numbers.   And if two or three numbers are too high, then the quality of your Internet connection is simply too poor to participate in the Zoom meeting.   While you may have a strong signal, and while your other “PC” or TV streaming activities work, two-way video communications simply may not.  Internet connection quality changes throughout the day, and your ability to participate in a Zoom meeting may improve or degrade depending on many things outside of our control.   If your numbers are consistently poor over the course of the day and  week, then contacting your Internet provider to look into the issue would be the next course of action.

Verify Chromebook is Updated

Another frequent disconnection  issue relates to an old version of the operating system on the Chromebook.    To verify the device is using the most recent operating system level perform the following steps or click on this link for a video explanation:

  1. Log into the Chromebook with the student ID and password.
  2.  Click on the time or battery icon in the lower right hand corner of the screen.
  3. Click on the snowflake/gear icon in the upper right corner of the resulting window
  4. Click on “About Chrome OS” in the lower left corner of the resulting window.
  5. Click on the “Check for updates” button under the Google Chrome OS logo towards the top of the window.
  6. If not up-to-date, the system will automatically install the upgrade.   When the “Check for updates” button changes to Restart, click it again.

Chrome Browser Inconsistencies        

Sometimes the browser can get hung up on a web site or a common function across web sites (such as authentication) and simply not load.   A potential resolution:

  1. Open a new browser
  2. In the URL field, enter chrome://settings/reset   and press enter.  

This should clear up the website login problems.

Getting your first and last name into Zoom meetings.

Click on this link to ensure your first and last name are used during Zoom meetings.

Tips for starting or participating in a Zoom meeting on a Chromebook.

  1. Restart the Chromebook sequence.
  1. Close ALL your google browser tabs and windows first.
  2. Sign out of the Chromebook -- AND wait about 15 seconds for the logon screen to reappear.
  3. Click on the shutdown button.   Wait about 15 seconds and turn the power back on.
  1. Turn off all extensions.
  1. Open a Google browser.  If multiple tabs appear, close all but one.
  2. In the URL field type:   chrome://extensions
  3. A list of extensions shows up.   Slide the buttons to the left to turn them off (some might not disable -- but turn off all that you can -- remember you can turn them back on later).
  4. Turn off bluetooth (see below).
  5. Now start or join your Zoom meeting as normal.

Poor Network Performance

Keep Your Router Up to Date

Software on your router, called firmware, ages and becomes out of date like any typical PC or Chromebook software.   Advances in connectivity, speed and feature set (including security) can be missed if the router isn’t updated regularly.  Firmware controls how the router behaves and maintaining it will allow for the best possible system performance.  There are too many routers and associated options to provide a comprehensive procedure here.   However, our recommendation for slow network, or unreliable connection, is to ensure that your router has been properly upgraded or replaced if too old.   Click on the links below for popular home router maintenance, or contact your router manufacturer’s website for assistance.

  1. Upgrading Netgear
  2. Upgrading Linksys
  3. Upgrading Asus
  4. Upgrading D-Link
  5. Upgrading TP-Link

Router Security

Many people don’t believe they have anything worth taking by Internet thieves, and so they do little to protect their digital presence.   But in reality, most attacks are not targeted, they are opportunistic.   Small software programs, called bots, are traversing the network testing one location after another in an effort to gain access to anything.  Some simple techniques will significantly reduce the chance of a compromise on your home network and prevent software downloads from stealing information and slowing down Internet access.

  1. Change the default name of your home Wi-Fi.   Many manufacturers ship the router with a default name.   When a computer with a wireless connection searches for and displays the wireless networks nearby, it lists each network that publicly broadcasts its name (SSID). This gives a hacker a better chance of breaking into your network.
  2. Make your wireless network password unique and strong.   Most wireless routers come with a pre-set password.   This password is easy to guess by hackers, so change this password to something at least 20 characters long including numbers, capital letters, and special characters.  Apply the same due diligence to the passwords on other Internet enabled devices such as cameras, garage door systems, phones, door locks and personal assistants.
  3. Enable network encryption.  Almost all wireless routers come with an encryption feature.  But by default, it is turned off.  A common, and effective, encryption option to choose is WPA2.  
  4. Turn off network name broadcasting.  Broadcasting the network name (it will show up in a list on a phone, PC, Chromebook when you look to establish a network connection) is generally sound practice for businesses where they want to offer Internet services to guests, but it is not necessary for home use.  If you want to provide your network to a guest in your home, give them the name (SSID) to manually enter.
  5. Keep your router software up-to-date.  (see above discussion)
  6. Turn OFF bluetooth -- especially during Zoom sessions.

Testing the Quality of your Internet Connection.

Click on this link to test the quality of your Internet connection.   This does not test the reported speed, or the strength of your Wi-Fi signal, but tests how reliable the data is going back and forth between various Internet destinations.  

Other Application issues

Screencastify

Click on this link for a video on how to add Screencastify to your Chromebook.

Google Docs/Sheets/etc.

Google applications and data are stored predominantly in the cloud.  That is, most of the application resides on a server somewhere and not on the Chromebook.  Data you type in from the keyboard is rapidly stored on these servers as well.  As a consequence, a good Internet connection is necessary for reasonable document editing performance.   If you notice the machine is not able to keep up with your typing and editing speeds in Google Docs, check the following:

  1. Close all applications and browser tabs except the one you need to use for document creation.
  2. Try to improve your network performance (see Poor Network Performance above)  
  3. In the URL field, enter chrome://settings/reset   and press enter.    
  1. Click on Restore settings to their original defaults.
  2. Sign out of the Chromebook
  3. Shut down the Chromebook (Miscellaneous Tips #1 below)
  4. Turn the machine back on and resume document editing.

Contacting the Help Desk

The first step in obtaining service is to fill out a Tech Questionnaire (link here).   If your Chromebook does not function well enough to go to a website and complete this form, simply call the Help Desk at 320-585-2169.  We will need to know the student name, email address, a contact phone number, serial number of the device, and detailed description of the problem.   Please leave these details in a voice message if nobody is available to take the call.

Miscellaneous Tips

  1. Shut down the Chromebook nightly.   Do not let the Chromebook go to sleep or simply close the lid.  It is essential that you shut down the machine to allow operational data to clear out.    To shut down, or turn off, your Chromebook completely, try one of these options after signing out of your session:
  1. At the bottom right of the main login screen, select the time. Select the Power symbol  
  2. Press and hold the Power key for 3 seconds.
  3. Press and hold the Power button until you see a menu to Power off or Sign out.  Press enter to complete power off.
  1. Managing your eMail.   Click on this link for a video on how to keep your Google Classroom eMail organized.
  2. The vast majority of issues are resulting from inadequate Internet bandwidth.  Run the speedtest check above to verify your speeds.   Remember speeds can vary significantly throughout the day.   You could be getting 15mb of capacity at 8:00 while getting less than 1mb the very next hour.  
  3. Exit ALL other applications, extensions and close all other browser tabs before running Zoom.   It must be the only application running on the Chromebook.
  4. Plug in the Chromebook every night and verify power in the morning.  While rare, the chargers do fail.   Contact the Help Desk if you suspect the Chromebook is not taking a charge.
  5. Execute the repair steps in this document before calling the help desk.  With distance learning practices in place, our technicians are extremely busy supporting all the remote devices.
  6. Keep the Chromebook clean and take care when moving it around the house or transporting to and from school.  
  7. Limit other student logins on the device.  While the Chromebook does support multiple users, this can cause authentication problems in the future.

Capturing a Screen Print

Capturing an image of the Chromebook screen can be helpful when diagnosing issues with the machine or the software.   The steps below outline the process to capture the screen, either in whole or in part, so it can be sent to the Helpdesk.

Capturing the full screen.

Press the Ctrl + show windows key (this is the function key with the rectangle and two trailing lines-- see image below) together.   A pop up a window appears displaying the snapshot that has been taken.

The screen capture will stay visible for about 10 seconds before it clears itself.   Press the Copy to Clipboard link in the resulting window.

Capture part of the screen

To grab a cropped area press Ctrl + Shift + show window keys. The mouse cursor will change to a crosshair, which enables you to draw a rectangle around the area you would like to capture.  Similar to the full screen option, press the Copy to Clipboard link in the resulting window.

After creating a new eMail to:   Helpdesk@Morris.K12.MN.US, you can paste this image in the body of the email, along with appropriate text about what you were doing, etc.

iPad Troubleshooting Tips

This tips section provides solutions to common problems for iPads used by our Kindergarten through grade 3 students.  The video in this link will show you how to diagnose and repair iPad issues such as low storage messages or apps not working correctly,