We have always known that getting our Minds On Physics apps to work on seamlessly on Chromebooks posed the greatest challenge. They indeed work on Chromebooks but the process of getting them to work has been a rocky road from the very beginning. Our Chromebook apps are technically referred to as ARC apps. They are Android apps that have been ported to Chromebooks using Google's App Runtime for Chrome (ARC). Because ARC is still in its beta version, reliability is not 100% and we do not feel comfortable charging for our Chromebook apps. Thus, for the remainder of the 2016-17 school year, the Chromebook ARC apps will be distributed to schools free of charge.
Payment and Support
For teachers and schools who use the app exclusively on Chromebooks, we are requesting that they make a payment of $50 per teacher to The Physics Classroom, LLC. The payment is voluntary and we will never prevent a student or a teacher from using MOP the App on a Chromebook for failure to make the payment. At the same time, the voluntary payment helps support the ongoing development of our website and of the Minds On Physics app program. Payments can be made via PayPal or by purchase order. In addition to PayPal payments, we also accept Credit Card payments; these are processed through our PayPal portal using the button below. The request for a voluntary contribution is also somewhat of an experiment for us to see if payments made on a voluntary basis will provide sufficient funds to support our development efforts. The PayPal button is provided below. Providing a teacher name and your school name allows us to keep track of who is using the program. Your email will come through with the PayPal notice; this email will allow us to maintain communication with you as needed.
Those teachers and schools who wish to make their contribution via Purchase Order and subsequent check can contact us via email for ordering and invoicing information. Send your email request to email@example.com with subject heading "Chromebook MOPs Support". Please include your name, your school name, and your email address.
Known Issues and Troubleshooting
During the first year of distributing Chromebook versions of MOP the App, we became familiar with a variety of issues. We have made numerous modifications to the program to help accomodate many of these. As of this writing (late July, 2016), we are working on version 2.0 of each of the apps. Once released, we believe it will offer the best Chromebook experience. The following issues remain:
- The Email Success Codes feature does not work on Chromebooks. Success Codes will have ro be written down and manually submitted to your teacher.
- The Backspace button does not work with the answer fields. We have provided an onscreen button that deletes the last character in an answer field.
- Download and Start-Up Issues
By far the most frustrating issues with our Chromebook apps is the occassional difficulty downloading and starting them on certain Chromebooks. We offer the following information and suggestions based on the author's experience as a physics teacher in a 1:1 classroom using Chromebooks during the 2015-16 school year. During that school year, the author was able to get the apps to work on all but three Chromebooks out of approximately 90 physics students. In most cases, the download was quick, seamless, and without complication. But for 10-15% of the students, there was some form of difficulty during the download or start-up process. In some cases, the app started downloading and then halted. In other cases, the app appeared to have downloaded but failed to start up after being installed. The IT staff observed that most of the problematic cases involved Chromebooks on which a plethora of Chrome apps had been previously installed. The IT staff reset the Chromebook to the "factory default condition" and in most cases, the apps installed and functioned as expected. Finally, there was a handful of cases in which the app seemed to have downloaded but would not open; many of these students had success on the following class day after restarting the computer and trying to open the app again.
Information for IT Staff: The apps are ARC apps (not Chrome apps). An ARC app is an Android app that has been ported to Chromebooks using Google's ARC Welder tool. ARC apps rely on Google's App Runtime for Chrome extension. This is a beta extension and must be enabled in order for the app to work; that means the Chrome OS must be switched to the Beta channel. (See info about Chrome OS Channels.) The App must be installed before it can be opened. It is available from the Chrome Web Store. It is not part of the Google Play for Education app series. In addition to having the ARC extension enabled, there may be some settings that have to be managed on the student's Chormebook. For instance, the student user must first have rights to download apps from the Chrome Web Store and run thos apps. Finally, there must be available space on the Chormebook for installation of the app.
A Little Help Please
It is difficult for us to know the end-user experience since we can't be in front of every Chromebook that downloads a Minds On Physics app. We always appreciate feedback. Particularly, we would love to know details about the problems you experience and any successful trouble-shooting efforts. If you can have an IT person contact us regarding success or relay a message from her or him, we would appreciate it. This information helps us to provide help to the many other users of our Chromebook apps. Unitl we get such information from the end users and the IT staff, the Chromebooks will seem like a black box. Please share your successful experiences with us.
A Brighter Future
Google announced earlier in 2016 that they are in the process of modifying the Chrome OS in order to allow the downloading of Android apps from the Google Play Store. Currently, we are distributing ARC apps through the Chrome Web Store. These are reliant upon Google's App Runtime for Chrome extension. Google's announcement relects another means by which we will be able to distribute Minds On Physics apps to Chromebook users - as an Android app through the Google Play Store. As of this writing (July, 2016), there are three Chromebooks that can currently download functional Android apps from the Google Play Store. And there are many, many more Chromebooks that are slated to adopt such functionality over the next year. For updated information about this development, visit Google's page devoted to Android Apps on Chromebooks
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