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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Using the Camera of a Chromebook

A teacher today at East Middle began an interesting discussion with me.  She has students that are more comfortable with handwritten notes.  What would be an easy way to capture them and save them to their Google Drive?  We first briefly began with an "old school" way of doing so, and likely the best way for resolution and image quality -- find a desktop computer, use a scanner to scan the notes, then take the resulting file and get it into their Google Drive via email, a thumb drive, etc.  However, this would not only be time and resource consuming, but is a great example of letting "perfect be the enemy of good."  Because of our 1:1 Chromebooks for middle and high school, a student has a more than adequate way of capturing these notes right at their fingertips.  It also encourages blended learning - a mix of the analog and the digital.

In order to take a picture with the Chromebook, go to the magnifying glass icon in lower left, click “All Apps,” and find Camera.  (If you want, you can drag and pin the icon to the bottom tray for a short cut in the future.)

Take your picture with the webcam. You can add filters if you like, set a timer, or take multishots in a row.  You might want to turn the mirroring off, especially if taking a picture of text.

If you want to find and use the picture afterward, access the gallery by going to Camera and click on the stacked photo icon on the right.  Choose the picture you want to use, then “Save to Disk” option in lower right.  Name it and put it in your Drive.

When you want to take a snapshot while in the middle of a Google Doc, go to Insert > Image > Take a Snapshot.  The first time you do this, you will need to give permissions for the Chromebook to access your webcam and built in microphone.  The snapshot can now be taken and instantly inserted.  (Note: this can be done not only on a Chromebook, but any laptop/desktop computer with a webcam.)

There are other ways the Chromebook's camera could be utilized.  Here's some examples:

  • Younger students who are pre-literate could still capture and share their work, such as drawings.
  • Math students of all ages can "show their work" as both proof of their effort as well as a window into their critical thinking, so that it may be assessed by their teacher.
  • Students can preserve proof of analog projects (such as a diorama) for digital portfolios.
  • On non-traditional instructional days or homework, students could be asked to take a selfie along with a code word (given by the teacher at the appropriate time) written on a piece of paper.  This will serve as a "check in" that students followed directions and were truly present for their work.
  • Thanks to websites like QR Code Generator, you can scan QR codes without using a phone or installing a program.

How are you using the Chromebook's camera?   Tell us in the Comments below.