Category: Uncategorized

Google Chrome Remote Desktop for Tech Support

Google Chrome Remote Desktop for Tech Support

Today I wanted to share how my team is handling troubleshooting problems remotely during our school closure. A reality of the IT world is that we don’t always know the answer to a person’s question. Sometimes we need to click and play with a device to try and troubleshoot issues. In our current reality, this is difficult because we can not physically touch the computer. To alleviate this problem my team has been using Google Chrome’s Remote Desktop tool.

Google’s Remote Desktop is a free tool that allows you to remotely access another device. You can have pre-existing devices set up (servers, your own home machines, etc) or you can give remote support when needed. I really like this tool because after completing the initial set up the process for getting support is very simple to use. The staff member generates and shares code with the tech and within a few seconds, the tech is able to remotely access the device. I also really like how transparent this tool is since you can not establish a connection with a non-pre-existing device without the end-user generating the code. This to me is important to let people know that they are in charge and that we can not just “spy” on them when we want to.

Setting this up for my staff was fairly easy. In our Google Admin console I pushed out the extension and also placed a link in our staff managed Chrome bookmarks. We are also only using this tool when we are on Meet calls with staff members. This has helped us walk them through the initial set up and be able to ask to follow up questions as we work. The staff has also responded positively and some have said that they appreciate that we can troubleshoot things without having to be in the same physical space.

Below is a video that I sent my staff explaining the process from a technician and an end-user view. I also included this message to explain more. Feel free to use/modify either resource.

As we continue to move to a remote working environment the tech team is looking into the best way to support you with any issues that come up. Sometimes when troubleshooting a problem it helps to see and try various things to try and find a fix. To better facilitate this yesterday we pushed a Chrome Extension to all YPICS Staff members that will allow us to remotely view and control your computer. You can also find a link to the website in your YPICS Bookmarks. If you do not see the extension or the YPICS bookmarks make sure that you are signed into Google Chrome with your school email account and have sync turned on.

The process for starting a remote session needs to be initiated by you. The tech team can not initiate a session which means we can not see or control your computer until you have given us permission to do so. To make sure we are being transparent with this process I created a brief 3 minute video that shows you the process from the tech and user side of things. If you have any questions please let me know.

If you have any questions or need any help getting this set up for your school please don’t hesitate to reach out! This is an awesome tool that I think every IT team should have in place.

Event Merge for Google Calendar

Event Merge for Google Calendar

If you are part of more than one Google Calendar you know the annoyance of having duplicate calendar invites. These unnecessary invites crowd your calendar and can make it difficult to read. Today I wanted to share a must-have Google Chrome extension that can help solve this problem.

When you install Event Merge for Google Calendar the extension identifies events that you are invited to that are on duplicate calendars and combines them into one. For example, I have a personal Google Calendar and one that my team uses at work. When an event is created on my team calendar and I am listed as an attendee Event Merge takes both events and combines them to one with a striped pattern. The striped pattern is color-coded to show you what calendars the event is on. This can be done to events scheduled at a specific time and All Day events.

It may seem minor but if you have multiple calendars this extension is a must-have because it drastically cleans up your calendar which makes it easier to read and use.

Organize your Google Drive with a Staff Hub

Organize your Google Drive with a Staff Hub

H/T to Brent Coley for introducing me to this awesome idea! You can check out Brent’s info about his online staff handbook by clicking here.

If you are not a search Google Drive search wizard it can be hard to quickly find important documents. On this page you will learn how you can create a Google Doc that acts as a hub to other documents. This simple tool has transformed the way my teachers access important information in our Google Drive.

Why You Should Use A Hub

1. Many workers spend as much as 20% of their work week looking for internal information that they need to accomplish tasks, whether that’s digging through folders of documents or tracking down a colleague to answer their questions. (source)

2. Think of this doc as a table of contents for your staff. You do not have to include every bit of information like you would a handbook. You just need to link to important docs.

3. Using a Google Doc ensures that your staff always has the current version. No need to publish before staff can see changes!

4. Google Docs are mobile friendly. Most of us do not carry our laptops all day long. We do however have our phones.

5. Categorizing your documents makes it easy to find information.

Examples of Google Doc Hubs

How to make a Google Doc Hub

Before You Start

1. Create a list of documents that you want your staff/students/parents to have access to. If you are struggling with creating this list think about the documents that your staff/students/parents request the most.

2. Organize your documents into different categories. You can organize your docs by departments, type, point person, or any other way that will help your staff quickly find the information.

Creating the Google Doc from Scratch

1. Create a new Google Doc by clicking here.

2. Insert a table. The number of categories you have will determine how many rows and columns you need. I would recommend not making more than three columns. If you make more than three columns the document may become hard to read on a phone.

3. Label each column with a category name.

4. Under each category name create a list of documents. You may want use bullet points to keep everything visually organized.

5. Link the documents in your list to the correct Google Doc. Make sure to double-check sharing settings!

6. If you want to make your hub more visually appealing you can add a logo, change the background color of the page/table, or use multiple fonts etc. Keep in mind that this does not need to be a visually complex document. It is all about making sure that people can quickly find information!

Free Templates You Can Use

If you do not want to start from scratch I have created several templates that you can use. To use a template click on the links below. You will then be forced to make a copy.

3 Column Template with Primary Documents Section

3 Column Template

3×3 Table Template with Primary Documents Section

3×3 Table Template

10 Quick Suggestions

1. Brand your hub! Come up with a fun name so people immediately know what you are talking about when you talk about it. This can be done by the person creating the hub or by polling the staff.

2. Don’t be afraid to say “That’s on the hub.” When you first implement this idea you need to give people a reason to check out the hub. Forcing them to go to the hub to retrieve information will expose them to the larger hub.

3. Make sure that you make your document view only for a majority of the staff. This will prevent information from accidentally disappearing.

4. Give editing access to key people. I gave editing access to my administrative peers, the office manager, and our assistants. You do not want to have to manage this all on your own.

5. Use Incognito mode in Chrome or another account to test all of your links prior to sharing the document.

6. Take suggestions for documents to add. Also, look for trends. If multiple are requesting something then add it!

7. Use this concept for other groups that you work with! If you need help organizing documents in Google Drive create a hub!

8. Use red colored text to identify any updates or new information. A staff member of mine suggested that we do this so viewers of the hub could quickly and easily identify any new or updated information.

9. Create a customized short link and/or a QR code to access the hub. The Google Docs URL is too long to ask someone to type in. Bit.ly allows you to create custom short links.

10. Remember the hub is also for you. Make use of it and let people know you are using it! Modeling is a great way to get buy-in.