February 3, 2021

Chromebooks: One Fix All Students Should Know

Julie Jensen

Learning and Innovation Manager


When a Chromebook issue happens, observe who is affected: everyone or just one or very few students. The rare times when it’s everyone, you will probably experience it yourself or your students will make a collective groan.

User errors can make any device appear it has issues, and a Chromebook is no different. Good news for schools who have adopted Chromebooks — the fix is easier than you think. What I am about to share is so simple that once you teach this to your students and they follow through, most of them will have successfully fixed the issue on their own without alerting the teacher or Tech Department.  

Observe Who is Affected

When a Chromebook issue happens, observe who is affected: everyone or just one or very few students. The rare times when it’s everyone, you will probably experience it yourself or your students will make a collective groan. When everyone is experiencing the same issue, this is not something you or your students can fix on the spot. This calls for reporting the issue to your school or district technology team to begin troubleshooting or wait it out for a few minutes to see what happens.

When it’s just one or very few students, I have a solution that rarely fails. My secret is followed by situations to explain how I know this. My solution: Restart the Chromebook. But I mean, really Restart the Chromebook. Skipping a Restart and trying other things will waste time and probably result in a Restart anyway.  

Student working on a laptop

A Restart vs Sleeping

Let’s be clear on the difference between a Restart and a Sleeping Chromebook. The difference in this case is one will fix the problem and the other will not. After a Restart, the student is required to login with both the username and password. On the other hand, putting a Chromebook to sleep by (most commonly) shutting the lid, requires the student to only enter a password to return where the student left off. Students prefer Sleep Mode on a daily basis, which is fine. However, every so often or when there is an issue, they need to do a complete shutdown/restart to keep their Chromebook running to its best capabilities.   

These are some of the common issues that will be solved when a student simply restarts the Chromebook: 

  • The Chromebook’s operating system is out-of-date. Even though school districts have settings that automatically push out updates to their fleet of Chromebooks, keeping a Chromebook in Sleep Mode will not allow the update to be applied to that device. Restart and updates to the Operating System will be applied.
  • The camera or mic will not work. This could mean another digital tool is still open and using the camera and/or mic. A Restart will close all and return the camera/mic settings to the default.  
  • One student can’t turn on the camera/mic in a virtual meeting. The student may not have allowed the camera/mic to join. The easiest fix is a Restart. 
  • When websites are slow to load, it could be:
    • The student has too many tabs open that use more bandwidth such as games, videos or music. Some students don’t want to “lose their place,” so they leave them open. Teach students how to use Chromebook Bookmarks and Restart the device. 
    • The student has a Chrome extension that is conflicting with Chrome. We all explore and add extensions; however, we don’t always remove the ones we no longer use. Teach students how to uninstall extensions

Deep cleaning | When a Restart didn’t work:

  • The Chromebook isn’t connecting to the district network. Restart the Chromebook and try again.  If still not connecting, check that the Wi-Fi icon in the lower right corner is on. In the rare case it is still not connecting, contact your technology team to reconnect this device to the district network.  
  • The student creates a gigantic cursor or changes the default language. This typically happens due to curiosity combined with wanting to personalize their digital experience. It’s all OK.  Simply reset Chrome back to default settings
  • Finally, teach students how to care for and keep their Chromebooks clean. If possible, having approved cleaning products on hand might remind and motivate students to take pride in the device they use. When students take care of the device, the device typically runs better for a longer period of time.  

In the end, when the fastest means to getting a student back to digital learning is a Restart, simply add this as an exception they can independently perform without permission.   

Teachers – Suggested Kincaid IT Course

  • Chromebook Academy and Digital Clean Up

Technology Departments – More information the G Suite Domain:


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