Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Untether Your Laptop with Chromebit

These days, it's hard to find a classroom that doesn't have an LCD projector and or a flat screen TV as a display for teachers to use. Connecting to these devices can be problematic. Teachers often feel tethered to the port on the wall. This tethered feeling makes it difficult for teachers to move around the classroom when facilitating learning.

It's very inconvenient to have to run back to the computer to move a slide or change something on the screen. In my experience, I have assigned a class job to a student to be the "clicker". This job became obsolete when I got my first wireless mouse. Even though the wireless mouse gave me the freedom to move a bit, I still felt a little trapped. If my laptop was projecting and kids were interacting with what was on the screen, what do I do if I need to take attendance? What do I do if I want to pull a small group aside and work on a different assignment that requires a computer?

A simple answer to those questions is to get another laptop. But do I have to pay for one or will the school? I could get a tablet or use my phone, but those devices don't have the functionality of my laptop. If I did get a tablet, the question remains on who is paying for it. If money is an issue, and usually it is, I have a more cost effective solution to ripping that tether apart. For around $150, an Asus Chromebit and bluetooth keyboard with trackpad is a winner.

A Chromebit is a "Snickers-sized" dongle that is a fully functional Chromebook. The Chromebit has an HDMI connection on the end that allows you to plug it directly into an LCD projector or TV. On the opposite end you will find a USB port where you will plug in the adapter to the bluetooth keyboard with trackpad. Once paired, you can move freely around the room with your keyboard/trackpad manipulating what's on the screen. This frees up your laptop for other tasks and activities.

In my classroom, the Cardinal Innovation Center, I am fortunate to have two TVs. One of which displays vital information during class such as the daily agenda, learning targets and more. My laptop is not burdened with this. I use a Chromebit to free up my laptop for other activities and tasks. I am afforded freedom to move around class easily as I facilitate learning.

Click here to find the Chromebit on the CDW website. Click here to find bluetooth keyboards with built-in trackpads on Amazon.

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