Can you use a Chromebook without internet access?
Has this ever happened to you?
You’re in the middle of your 3rd period. Things are going well. The lesson you created for your students is working better than you planned.
Suddenly, you can sense the momentum begin to change.
Students who had been working diligently are beginning to stir and squirm.
They begin to whisper to one another:
“Hey, Is the internet working for you?”
“I can’t get this page to load.”
Your worst fear as a Chromebook loving teacher has arrived…the wifi is down!
Chromebook were born on the web. They are a web-first device. Using them without web access isn’t ideal; but it can be done.
Can you use a Chromebook without internet access?
But there are a few things you should know first…
Chromebooks can, if necessary, be set up to work without internet access. Configuring offline access is only recommended in situations where students are assigned to a single device. Offline access is not a realistic option in a shared device situation. Remember, Chromebooks are designed to run on the web. Using them offline disables some of the best features of the device.
To enable Drive offline, each individual user must log in to their Drive account, visit Drive settings (look for the gear icon in the top right corner of the screen), and check the box that says “Enable offline access.” A copy of your entire Google Drive account will be downloaded locally on your Chromebook for use when you go offline. These files will be automatically synced when you reconnect to a network.
The offline capabilities of drive are limited. Here is a quick overview:
The list below will help you understand the offline capabilities of Google Drive:
- My Drive Folders: View only. Cannot create new folders or organize existing files while offline
- Shared with me: Not available offline. Shared files that were previously added to My Drive will be accessible.
- Docs: Collaborative, research and other web-enabled features will not be available
- Sheets: Collaborative, research and other web-enabled features will not be available
- Presentation: Collaborative, research and other web-enabled features will not be available
- Forms: Not available offline.
- Drawing: View only. Can not edit or create drawings offline.
- Non-Drive Files: Files that can be viewed in Drive will be viewable (.pdf, .jpg, .mov, etc). Other files (.psd, .indd, etc) cannot be viewed offline.
Click here to learn more about using Drive offline.
Note that changes made to a collaborative document that is edited by others while you are offline will result in sync issues which will need to be addressed individually.
Can you use a Chromebook without internet access? Absolutely, but you will need to make sure that Google Drive is configured for offline access.
The new version of Gmail has greater support for offline use. Offline access can be enabled by visiting the Gmail settings (look for the gear icon in the top right corner of the screen) and visiting the offline tab.
You can configure how many emails are saved offline (mine is set to 30 day worth of mail). Messages you compose while offline will be queued for delivery when you re-connect.
The Google Keep Chrome app is handy for taking quick notes, reminders, and creating a to-do list. Google Keep automatically syncs an offline copy of your notes; no configuration required!
The Keep app is a great resource when the wifi goes out. I find Keep to be more user-friendly than Google Drive when I am offline. For quick notes or rough form writing it is my go-to option.
When I’m back online I can easily convert my Keep note into a Google Docs or Presentation using the Keep notepad integration within Drive.
Watching Video Offline Video
Making video available for offline watching is difficult.
Currently, subscribing to YouTube Premium ($9.99/month) is the only way to make YouTube Videos available offline.
Videos saved to Google Drive are not supported offline either.
To make videos available for offline viewing, users must manually download them as files in the Chromebook’s local storage, where they will be available for play.
Teachers who use the flipped classroom method of instruction will want to make videos available for their students via Drive and remind them to download those videos to the local storage when an internet connection is available. This method works most effectively for students who don’t have internet access at home and are able to plan in advance.
Chrome Apps that work Offline
Some apps in the Chrome Web Store also feature offline capabilities.
Look for the lightning bolt on the app description, which indicates offline compatibility. You can also browse all of the offline-capable apps here.Here are a few helpful titles to install (search by name in the Chrome Web Store):
- Fraction Wall – math fraction practice
- Polarr Photo Editor – photo editing tool
- Skill Builder Spelling – create custom spelling flashcards
- Scientific Calculator – calculator app
- Webcam Toy – snap a quick photo using your webcam
- The 50 States Free – geography game
- Pattern Shapes – tangram math manipulative
- Number Frames – base-ten math manipulative
- Geoboard – peg board math manipulative
- Coding with Chrome – intermediate level coding platform
- Mic Note – speech-to-text note taking tool and organizer
- Hot Cold typing – typing practice
- Fast Typing – typing practice
- Gliffy Diagrams – mind-mapping tool
Note: Some of these apps require that they be opened and configured at least once prior to being run in offline mode.
Can you use a Chromebook without internet access? Absolutely! But you will need to make sure that you have some offline-capable apps installed before you lose your connection.
5 ideas for no-wifi class periods
Not having wifi access when you have prepared a technology-infused lesson is frustrating. The honest truth is that without wifi, you should probably enact plan B.
Technology is a tool, not an end. There is little value in complicating a lesson by trying to limp along without wifi..
Embrace this opportunity to turn of the tech for the day. Here are a few ideas for “plan b”
- Have a class debate
- Divide students into small groups and have mini discussions.
- Ask students to draw a diagram or concept map
- Play “hollywood squares, classroom edition”
- Have a class read-aloud