Often when you're presenting in a classroom or a meeting, you just want your computer to be the star of the show. You have the perfectly-designed slides, the carefully-chosen video, or the hand-typed meeting agenda [pro-tip: adjectives always sound better if there's a hyphen involved] on your machine and you don't need or want someone else to control the screen. On some occasions, however, there might be a compelling reason to share the limelight. Maybe you want to show off some student work to your classroom and discuss it as a class. Or maybe a meeting guest has a relevant video or document to share, but it's only on their laptop.
I've been in meetings like this; there's a 5-minute break while the current presenter unplugs their laptop, stands up, passes the HDMI cable to the guest presenter, who plugs it in (wait, they need to duplicate their screen, not extend it), and then you're finally able to see what the 2nd presenter wanted to show to the group. Oftentimes, the length of the HDMI cable means people need to shuffle seats too. This process takes a while, and it's pretty unwieldy if you're inviting multiple people to take turns sharing their work.
Google Cast for Education is a somewhat mis-named Chrome extension that simplifies this whole process. It lets you allow other people to wirelessly connect to your computer and present their screen on the projector. You don't need to unplug any cords, you don't need to change seats. It's an efficient way to share student work or allow students to present in the classroom, of course, but it's also great for meetings when you want to allow other laptops in the room to borrow the main screen.
Installing Google Cast for Education in Chrome
1. Go to the Chrome Web Store and search for Google "Cast for Education". You can type chrome.google.com/webstore into your browser's URL bar or you can just use this link to get to the extension: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-cast-for-education/bnmgbcehmiinmmlmepibeeflglhbhlea
2. Click on the blue "+ Add to Chrome" button.
3. It will need access to some permissions, which you'll need to accept by clicking 'Add extension'. Unlike many 3rd party extensions, Cast for Education is actually made by Google, so you can feel trusting it with the same permissions that you'd give to your Google account.
4. The Google Cast for Education extension icon (a green rectangle with 3 wifi-like lines) will now appear in the upper-right hand corner of your browser. If you want to keep extra icons out of your browser window, you can also right-click on the app icon and choose to "hide in Chrome menu", which is what I do with apps I use less frequently:
Setting Up Your Casting Session
1. Click on the green Cast for Education icon once. You'll see a new window open that looks like this:
2. You'll want to fill in the field labeled 'Receiver Name'. This is the name that your students/participants will see when connecting to your computer. For the other three checkboxes, the default choices are fine but you can tweak them if you want. When you're done, press 'Save':
3. Next up, you'll need to choose who has access to cast on your computer. You can individual users (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org), groups of users (e.g. email@example.com), or, if you use Google Classroom, a class of students or participants. If the person/group appears in your contacts or the TSS directory
4. For each person or group, you'll need to choose what level of access they have. Your choices are 'Can request' or 'Can present'. If the user has 'can request' permission, then you'll get a prompt if they try to wirelessly present through your computer. You can accept or deny this request. If the user or group has 'can present' permissions, on the other hand, they'll be able to present via your computer without any prompt. Once you've added everyone you want to have access, click 'CLOSE' at the bottom of the window.
5. Now you'll just see a grey screen that displays the time, along with a few controls. This is where your student/participant's screen will be displayed if they choose to 'cast' to your computer.
6. In order to cast their screen into this window, your student/participant will need to be running an updated version of the Chrome browser and they'll need to be connected to a wireless network at the Kelly Campus, TVCS, or the Jackson Campus. They'll need to open the Chrome menu (the three dots in the upper-right hand corner), then choose "Cast...".
7. The student/participant will then get be greeted with the Google Cast interface. At the top of the window, there's a small heading: "Cast To:" Clicking on this heading will switch the menu to the "Choose Source" menu, which is where we want to start. Your participant will have the choice of presenting just their active browser tab, or their entire screen. I'd recommend going with the "Cast desktop" option if you're not sure.
8. Click on the heading again to switch to "Cast To". Your student/participant should see your Receiver Name (which you created in step 2). They'll need to click on this.
9. Now, if the student/participant has 'Can Present' privileges, they'll just start presenting on your screen. If they only have "Can request" permissions, you'll see a notification pop up. You'll need to click 'Accept' before your guest can present on your screen.
10. Your guest should now be casting their display to your screen. This will also cast the audio from their computer, so if they're showing a video or playing audio, it will now play through the speakers in your computer. In the bottom-left corner of the screen, you'll see a small reminder of your receiver name and you'll see the identity of the presenter in the bottom center of the screen.