Getting Companion app on school administered Chromebooks

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Sheldon Bishov

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Aug 2, 2019, 10:11:53 PM8/2/19
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Having issues getting school-administered Chromebook to find the Companion for Chromebook. I've seen related notes in this forum and gotten some information from others at a recent PD for Mobile CSP.  Mainly need any specific information to give to school district IT.

All students in my classes have Chromebooks, administered under the district Google account.  Switching to Android devices is not an option, so using the Companion app on Chromebook seemed like an ideal solution.  

However when testing on a school Chromebooks the Companion does not show up in Google Play, even using direct link https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=edu.mit.appinventor.aicompanion3) -- in fact no apps show up.

District IT says that the option to allow for app installs on the Chromebook is enabled in Google Apps for Education. As a test I switched my login on the Chromebook to a personal Google account, after which the above link does get to the MIT AI2 Companion page. There are issues with getting the install to work which I won't go into at this point since my test seems to indicate that the district account is not allowing app installs.

Any suggestions for followup or alternate solutions welcome.

Chris Ward

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Aug 3, 2019, 4:48:36 AM8/3/19
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Hello Sheldon

Complicated!  I am going to assign your Topic to the MIT team. 


Sheldon Bishov

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Aug 3, 2019, 6:58:26 AM8/3/19
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Thank you Chris!

Sheldon Bishov

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Aug 7, 2019, 8:26:24 AM8/7/19
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I have a request pending with school district IT to verify again that app installs on Chromebook are definitely enabled in Google Apps for Education on school domain k12.mps-edu.org
In going through again some previous notes in this forum related to Companion on Chromebook saw questions about whether it runs on all models -- if that matters, mine are HP 11 G5 EE



SteveJG

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Aug 7, 2019, 8:55:27 AM8/7/19
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Sheldon, It is probable App Inventor does not participate  in             

Google for Education .and is not listed on 

 

Google Apps for Education   App Inventor 2 is certainly not part of GSuite https://edu.google.com/products/gsuite-for-education/?modal_active=none  (what your school district is possibly referring to).

While waiting for a definitive response from MIT  you might request the school district unblock ports 8001 and 8004 on their network to allow use of App Inventor and add the link to the White List.


Here is the generic usage advice for schools  

From your description, the district appears to be blocking non Google for Education web pages.   App Inventor 2 is a Web app.   Schools generally just have to add the App Inventor link to their 'white list' of acceptable web sites probably.

Something else you might do is see whether your students can access App Inventor 2 at it's alternative server at http://code.appinventor.mit.edu  .   This server does not require a gmail account (although one can be used).   It is accessed by saving a  revisit code each user has to keep track of.    You need to check whether this works and whether using it is compliant with the school district policies.


Regards,
Steve

Sheldon Bishov

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Aug 7, 2019, 9:22:39 AM8/7/19
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Hi Steve,

Appreciate the reply.  The problem is not access to App Inventor, but getting the AI Companion on the Chromebook. I know a fix is pending to re-enable the emulator to run on my  lab desktops, hopefuly that will be testable before school starts.  For various reasons I cannot use the Companion on Androids at school.  Having it on Chromebook would be a great solution, since relying on the emulator only might be iffy in my school setting.  I've read the notes about alternate emulators and various diy solutions, but especially since this would be my first year trying the Mobile CSP curriculum I want to rely on solutions that are as stable as possible and which require minimal IT support.

Thanks,
Sheldon

SteveJG

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Aug 7, 2019, 9:59:17 AM8/7/19
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I suspected that might be the case.  If "the district account is not allowing app installs.", then you cannot do what you want unless the district IT white lists App Inventor Companion.  It is difficult to envision what you could do without contravening district policy other than getting them to allow Companion installs.  You probably cannot use an emulator because policy probably will not allow that to be installed either.  Sympathize with your dilemma.


You want  to develop "solutions that are as stable as possible and which require minimal IT support."  Consider the following:

1) Use two or three Windows laptops  with a stand-alone version of App Inventor installed.  These are third party 'images' of App Inventor 2 that are older versions of AI that install on a PC and do not work online.   They are described  https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/ai4a/ajG4Q6UrRR8 (see the section on offline personal server at the bottom of the page.  There are several options there. AIUltimate is supposedly a great choice and is free) . 2)   Let the student's share the PCs and build apps as a team.  If you are reasonably computer literate, this would require no IT support but might create PC policy issues with your district that you could probably negotiate.

You can test this at home.   Is implementation simple?  Not totally, it is something you might try.

Someone might post with other ideas.  

-- Steve

--Steve

Sheldon Bishov

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Aug 7, 2019, 11:30:32 AM8/7/19
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Thanks, will look at those alternatives.

Sheldon Bishov

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Aug 26, 2019, 3:25:00 PM8/26/19
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Update: at this point none of the alternatives from earlier replies are workable.  Again today talked with district IT about the suggestion provided in this forum to allow apps (whitelist or whatever), and was told that for staff accounts apps are NOT blocked.  Yet the Companion app for Chromebook does not show up.

As an experiment which may not show anything useful: when I check the Play Store on Chromebooks administered by the district the Companion app does not show up, but when I login on the Chromebook to a personal Google account I >can< see it  but install does not work.  I relayed to IT the following link I found, no reply from them on whether it was useful: https://support.google.com/chrome/a/answer/7532419?hl=en

Are there are any specific steps I can suggest to IT?  Obviously I'm not conversant in internals of how the Companion works, cannot  use the school WiFi with students or set up an alternate wifi hotspot or similar, and am out of time to spend pursuing other options, so if there is nothing I'll just give up on using the Chromebooks, hope for the best using the emulator.  Appreciate the suggestions provided so far.

 

Evan Patton

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Aug 26, 2019, 4:26:32 PM8/26/19
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Hi Sheldon,

You should have your IT folks look at this support document: https://support.google.com/chrome/a/answer/7131624?hl=en&ref_topic=9042368.

It seems like there are a number of configuration items that could get you into the position where your personal can see the app but not install it, and where the app doesn't even appear on your school account. Unfortunately, without being able to see how its configured it's difficult to give any advice on how to proceed. The first thing seems to be that you're going to want at least Chrome OS 64 or higher installed on the device. Earlier version seem to have some issues installing Android apps if they are also configured to perform user data wipes. Depending on whether or not they are using managed apps, they may also need to go and manually approve the Companion app (probably using the identifier edu.mit.appinventor.aicompanion3) before it will be allowed to be installed via Google Play on the Chromebook. Step 3 under "Install Android Apps on Chrome devices" seems relevant.

Regards,
Evan

Sheldon Bishov

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Aug 26, 2019, 6:31:43 PM8/26/19
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Thanks very much Evan.  A check using  chrome://system show chrome version as 75.0.3770.144 .  Will forward the information to IT.

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