Earlier today, I was working with a new web-based application for one of my classes and discovered that I was having trouble switching between multiple different windows/tabs of the same app, and started thinking of ways that I could solve this problem. In order to help make the multiple windows seem less overwhelming, I decided to use my Google Chromecast that was plugged into a TV in my room to enlarge one of the most-used tabs, which worked exactly the way I wanted it to, allowing me to continue working on my assignment. Here are the many different ways I use my Google Chromecast for virtual learning, and how it helps me as a student with low vision.
What is Google Chromecast?
The Chromecast is a device that allows users to connect their computer, tablet, or phone to their TV. The device is plugged into an HDMI port on the TV, and it also uses a power outlet. By using the same wifi hotspot as the other device, the Chromecast can project internet tabs, apps, and more, acting as a second screen for various types of content. The standard Chromecast broadcasts up to 1080p and costs $35, while the Chromecast Ultra can broadcast in 4K resolution and costs $69- I have had the standard Chromecast for a few years now and love it.
Why I chose to use Chromecast
So why did I choose to use the Chromecast over other smart TV solutions or screen mirroring techniques? I’m glad you asked! Some of the reasons why I decided to use my Chromecast for virtual learning include:
- I only have to turn on the TV and tap two icons on my devices to start casting, instead of having to connect one of my devices to the TV with different cables
- Many of the apps that I use in my virtual classes support playback with Chromecast
- It works across all of my devices- I can easily cast content from my iPad, Google Chrome browser, and Android phone
- I can use the Chromecast with any size TV, and as long as I am logged into the same wifi network as the device, I don’t have to enter any additional information- I can use my friend’s Chromecast with no issues
- For my web browser and iPad, I can use other apps at the same time as the Chromecast and not have to worry about keeping my screen on the content I’m casting
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Playing videos on YouTube
One of the helpful features that I mentioned in my original Chromecast post is the ability to play videos on YouTube directly from the YouTube mobile app. Since a lot of my professors post lectures to YouTube (typically with a private link), this means that I can easily listen to the lecture in the background while I am typing notes on my computer, or follow along with an instructional video while I write code or do another task on my iPad. I like this better than the picture-in-picture view, which is typically too small for me to be able to see.
To cast a video from YouTube, simply select the screencasting option within the YouTube app, which looks like a rectangle with a signal next to it.
Enlarging web content on the TV screen
When I was working with the new web application today, I found that it was difficult for me to go back and forth between two specific tabs, because I had to keep referencing information and comparing different graphs. This problem was fixed after I cast the tab that had the reference images/text to my TV, so I could look at the display as needed and work on the assignment using my computer. This method would also work well for enlarging images or other content for students with low vision.
To cast a browser tab to Chromecast, select the Customization tab in Google Chrome and select the “Cast” option, then choose a device. The current browser tab will then be displayed on the Chromecast.
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Reading large print
While I have used my Chromecast for reading large print in the past, I worked with a student who preferred to read text on large displays whenever possible. For users who prefer to read very large print (size 96 or larger), I recommend using a teleprompter app or website to display text in a print disability-friendly font so that it can be easily read.
- Ways To Use Teleprompter Apps As Assistive Technology
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Mirroring my phone display
Since I have an Android phone (specifically a Google Pixel 2), I can start casting my phone display from the status bar by pressing the “Cast” button and the device I want to cast to- since we have multiple Chromecasts in the house, I have to confirm which device I want to cast to. From there, I can broadcast any app on my phone screen, including a calculator app, my notes, a video call, a picture saved to my camera roll, or anything else I can think of. Users will need to tap the “Cast” button again to turn off casting when they are finished so that they don’t accidentally broadcast unwanted information.
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Watching a video for class
While I’ve mentioned being able to cast YouTube videos, users can also cast content from many different streaming video applications and websites as well. I’ve been able to watch content from different sources including Netflix, Skillshare, Kanopy, Khan Academy, and others, though I’ve also pulled up different videos in my Google Chrome browser and just cast the tab to my device. This allows me to watch audio-described content from other websites such as YouDescribe or content from my university.
- Watching Free Documentaries With Kanopy
- Skillshare Accessibility For Visual Impairment
- Five Websites That Help Students With Low Vision In The Math Classroom
- YouDescribe Audio Described YouTube Videos Review
- Creating Inclusive and Accessible Video Lectures For Visually Impaired Audiences
Summary of ways I use my Chromecast for virtual learning
- The Google Chromecast is a device that allows users to connect their phone, computer, or tablet wirelessly to their TV over wifi
- It can be used to play videos on YouTube while someone has other apps open
- Any website can be cast to a TV screen with Google Chromecast
- Large print can be displayed on the Chromecast so that someone can see a display more easily
- Android phone displays can be mirrored on the Chromecast
- Videos from websites other than YouTube can also be played on Chromecast