Tech Help for Students & Families

Mon, 04/20/2020 - 1:54pm

Helpful tips, tricks, resources, videos, links, infographics, and updates to help us all navigate the tech seas during this challenging time. Obsessively updated. We can do this!


Well, hello! I'm so happy you're here! I will be editing this page to reflect the technology needs for the 2020-2021 school year as we discover any changes and challenges to our tech landscape. I will also update this in the summer if needed. Thank you! ~Ms. Gwyneth Jones - MHMS Teacher Librarian & Tech Specialist.

Important info from Slide 14 of the above presentation:

  • MHMS will NOT be available to help you with any technical issues over the summer 

    • Please use this website to see where and when the HCPSS Tech Support Centers will located and open 

    • This page also includes best practices for Chromebook care over the summer 

Here are the class times for our last 4 school days:

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Kids & Families - Broken HCPSS Chromebook?  Do you have a device with a cracked screen, not turning on, or broken charger?  Are you moving out of district & need to return?  HCPSS asks that you go to the:  Technology Support Center Update

New support center is now open at the nearby Old Cedar Lane building in Columbia.

At that time, devices may be exchanged or returned at any of the following Technology Support Centers:

----- >>> Old Cedar Lane is Closest to MHMS <<<-----

  • Old Cedar Lane, Gymnasium (door on the left side of the building; follow the signs), 5451 Beaverkill Road, Columbia (Building shares a parking lot with Harper’s Choice Middle School)  Closest to MHMS  Google MAP Directions from MHMS  ---- Google Street View
  • Hours of operation are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursday from 2-5 p.m. Please note that Technology Support Centers are closed any day that HCPSS offices are closed.

Note! Both locations are in old school buildings that are not located at the same sites as the new schools with similar names. Anyone seeking assistance should go to the locations listed above and not go to or call the current schools regarding the Technology Support Center.

  • Old Bushy Park Elementary School, Room E2 (door to the left of the front entrance), 2690 Route 97, Glenwood (Building is between Glenwood Middle School and Bushy Park Elementary School)
  • Hours of operation are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursday from 2-5 p.m. Please note that Technology Support Centers are closed any day that HCPSS offices are closed.

Note! Both locations are in old school buildings that are not located at the same sites as the new schools with similar names. Anyone seeking assistance should go to the locations listed above and not go to or call the current schools regarding the Technology Support Center.

Shameless Book Promotion! Summer Reading Canvas Page and MHMS Daring School Library Media Blog

Chromebook Care & Feeding

--- >> Download the PDF PDF iconCare & Feeding for Chromebook Guide.pdf


• Every Night: Plug in your Chromebook for overnight charging. Plug & charge on the RIGHT SIDE - charges faster & better. The progress light will still go on the left. Blue is good (fully charged) - Orange is OK (charging) Red or Blinking is Bad (dead).

laptop wave


• Ever​y Week: Clear cache & cookies - Here's a handy YouTube Video with the how-to: But do NOT clear your passwords - Logout, Shut down, wait 2 min, & RESTART.  Suggest doing this either Friday afternoon or Monday morning. 


• Something Not Working? Restart Smart! Remove any external devices like headphones, microphones, & mice - Logout, shut down, wait 2 min, & RESTART


• Say YES to Updates: Whenever possible, use an updated Chrome browser & Chromebook. If your device prompts you to update - Do it! Restart. 


• NO FEEDING Your Chromebook or You Will Pay: Don't feed your Chromebook anything but electricity. KEEP ALL FOOD & DRINK far away from your device. Food causes sticking keys, trackpad errors, & causes laptops to die and you could be charged up to $400. Snack far away from your laptop, friends! You ARE responsible to pay for damages due to food, drink, neglect, loss, or breakage. 



• Chrome Extensions of Destruction: Some Chrome extensions are helpful, built in, and recommended.  But some extensions cause major problems. The gaming ones are the worst (sorry, no fun) they can cause Meet & device crashes. When things go wrong, remove extra Chrome Extensions - Esp the gaming ones - How? Look for the Extensions puzzle piece on top right toolbar > Manage > Remove > Confirm Remove >Restart


• Chrome Browser Tune-Up: Here are some HCPSS suggested things to try to improve your device experience & performance. ​


• Resources & More: Tech Troubles? Make an appointment for Tech-Help-Desk sessions


Top Helpful Tips with Tech Issues for Students & Teachers (Ok, for everyone!) - the Easy Cut & Paste Version

Make sure you're logged into your HCPSS GSuite account and not your personal Google account.

1. Close extra apps, windows, and tabs - log out
2. Restart your device (this is kind of like magic! Fixes most problems)
3. Clear cache & cookies - Here's a handy YouTube Video with the how-to: - Logout, Shut down, wait 2 min, & RESTART
4. Whenever possible use an updated Chrome browser - Logout, Shut down, wait 2 min, & RESTART
5. Remove any external devices like headphones, microphones, & mice - Logout, Shut down, wait 2 min, & RESTART
6. Remove extra Chrome Extensions -Esp gaming ones - Logout, Shut down, wait 2 min, & RESTART


  • If siblings are using the SAME CHROMEBOOK Device -- this needs to be done: 1st sibling goes to and logs OUT of GSuite and closes any open tabs including Canvas. 2nd sibling goes to and logs  into GSuite, then follow the directions for joining the meeting.  
  • For issues with those devices or technology in general please review the HCPSS Student Device website & more links below or come visit Tech-Help-Desk

With a recent Chrome update, we've found that the cookies settings were blocking 3rd party applications (how dare they!) - which can mess up your Google Assignements on Canvas. If you see Denied Access: make sure you're logged in right - and then try this!


1.     Press the 3 Dot Button on your top right corner of Chrome

2.     Then proceed to press Settings 

3.     After once you’re in the Settings then I would like you to click on Privacy and Security 

4.     From there you will see something called Site Settings 

5.     Then click on Cookies and Site Data (Your first option) 

6.     If Block Third Party Cookies is enabled then this is the cause of your problems, simply Disable it and reset your pages

Always use the Chrome Browser for Google Meets and NEVER use Internet Explorer (IE) or Safari. If you get this, please swtich to Chrome.


Account Self-Service is now in Apps on the ChromeBooks!

For password help & parent account activation our learners can now go to My Account Apps! 


Peardeck Problems: Questions & Suggestions

Have you Restarted your device?

Have you Cleared your Clear cache & cookies? & Restart Device

Have you Enabled ALL Cookies? (Cookies, Yum!) 

1.       In Chrome, at the top right corner, click the Three Dots

2.       Select Settings 

3.       Select Privacy and Security in the left-hand list of categories 

4.       Select Site Settings  

5.       Select Cookies and Site Data in the content group

6.     Choose Allow all cookies  & RESTART Device

Weird things happening with Google Meet, Canvas, or Chrome? Try this!

Reset Chrome:

1.       Click the 3 dots in the upper right corner

2.       Click Settings

3.       Click Advanced in the left navigation area

4.       Click Reset settings

5.       Click restore settings to their original defaults

6.       Click reset settings

7.    RESTART your device


Canvas / Google Integration Woes? NEW Steps to FIX that Problem!

  1. Open Canvas and open one of your courses.
  2. In the course menu, open Google Drive. Click your initial in the upper right corner and sign out.
  3. Click the Authorize button, select your account. If you are asked to login to hcpss, enter your username and password.
  4. Open your teacher's Canvas assignment. You may see a short delay and then a message about creating a new Howard County folder. Click yes or accept. The assignment should load after this.
  5. Restart your device - log back into your account

More HCPSS Canvas - Google Assignment Integration FIXES

HCPSS Technology Training & Support YouTube Channel

How to take a screenshot on a Chromebook:

  1. View the site you want to capture
  2. Press Ctrl +  (the key on the top of the keyboard that looks like a square with 2 lines to the right of it) Your screenshot is saved as a PNG file in your "Downloads" folder. But it doesn't show up as you do it, you have to go and find it.
  3. To find, minimize the window and click the launcher circle in the bottom left corner and click in the searchbox for screenshot.
  4. Recent screenshots should show up - or search for "screenshot"
  5. Drag and drop or copy to clipboard to use in Google Docs

YouTube Video Directions:

Tech Problems? Have you UPDATED?  

Update your Chrome Browser/Operating System  - This will make things easier on you for next week, I promise! Plus: Bonus new cool stuff included! Shhh! Don't tell everyone, let the late updaters figure it out when you have all the cool stuff and they don't. OK, kidding on that last part, it sounded salty. 

Please take a moment this weekend and update your Google Chrome... & you should  always check in with your grown-up before installing the updates!

If you have a Chromebook (HCPSS chromebook included!) follow these directions to update the operating system:

You will need to shut down your Chromebook and power it back on (and allow it time to install). If you run into issues, please let me know at the Tech-Help-Desk on Monday! Or search for a YouTube video -- you know you can learn almost anything on YouTube, right? 

If you have a DELL, Windows, or Mac computer:
In the upper right corner, click on the "three dots" that are stacked on top of eachother.
In the resulting drop-down menu, select the Help > About Google Chrome menu options.
Simply opening this page will initiate the update process.

Once the browser updates, you might need to click on the Relaunch button to reopen Chrome.
What if the update fails?
If the update fails, it is recommended that you download and install the latest version of Chrome.
Start by opening this site
Click on the DOWNLOAD CHROME button.
Open the installer and follow the instructions to complete the installation of Chrome.

Thank you!!!  ~Ms.  Gwyneth Jones


Actively Learn, FAQ, Tips, & Canvas Errors

#1 Actively Learn Error:

Error Msg you may be getting

Students are adding personal email addresses to Canvas for notifications and setting them as the primary email on the account. This causes problems with Actively Learn & other Clever connections.

Make sure they set the primary back to the account. This doesn’t change anything with notification preferences on the personal email:


Here’s a handy Actively Learn FAQ from the ELA Office.

Tech Tip: Add a STAR to it -- Look at the top of ANY Google product & put a star, like a bookmark so you can find it easily in your Google Drive by clicking on Starred items.


 ALL Google Meet codes for MHMS classes & teachers follow this format:



Example: MHMS-dvader-PD1

If you accidentally add a dot, misspell a name, or don't add MHMS into the Meet Code, it won’t work.  Also, if it won’t let you in and you have the right Meet code, make sure you’re logged into your account and not a personal Gmail account of yourself, a sibling, or a parent. LOG OUT all the way, go back in as you and try again. Thanks!


Digital FREE Agenda Book / Planner - Make a Copy! 


From HCPSS:  

What should we do when technology is not working?
Occasionally, students may have issues with Canvas, Google Meet or other learning platforms used by HCPSS. If your child is having difficulty:

  • Logging in to Google Meet - Directions on joining a Google Meet can be found online. If your child is still unable to join, have them send their teacher a message via Canvas or you can send the teacher an email to make them aware. Your child can work on other assignments in Canvas and/or you can have them focus on another learning platform used by their teachers, such as Lexia Core5 or DreamBox at the elementary level or Actively Learn at the middle and high school levels, until the issue is resolved.
  • Logging in to Canvas - Have your child attend any scheduled virtual learning sessions and/or have them focus on another learning platform used by their teachers, such as Lexia Core5 or DreamBox at the elementary level or Actively Learn at middle and high school levels. Make sure to let your child’s teacher know about the issue via email. 

Families also may find the following resources to be helpful:

Need a Chromebook? Student Chromebook Request Procedure

The first wave of requested Chromebooks have been designated and emails went home to those families that responded by the deadline. Did you miss it and not get one? It's not too late!  More will be coming. Follow the directions below please. Thank you for your understanding and patience. 

  • Parents/guardians should log in to HCPSS Connect.

  • From the left menu, last choice, select “More Options” then choose “Student Technology” from the center of the screen.

  • On the HCPSS Student Technology screen, use the drop down arrows to indicate the Technology Requested for each student. Changes are saved immediately.

  • If a device has already been issued, it will appear in the inventory list. If a student already has a device issued, a new request will not be processed.

  • Individual schools will communicate a plan for the distribution of devices when they are available.









Student Passwords

Forgot your password? Please try it several times & check capslock or check for extra spaces. To change:  view the Account Self Service directions posted online. Very important, if you create a new password that does not follow the requirememnts, you will be rejected. It might not even tell you why you were rejected. No one likes that.

Forgot Password or Username button on the student landing page to retrieve both your username and password.

ALL Passwords must follow these rules:

  • MUST be at least 8 alphabetic letters
  • MUST include at least 1 Capital letter
  • MUST include at least 1 number
  • And it's good to have a special character like ! or $ or #
  • Cannot repeat the same password ever used before, or it will be rejected

Too short or not including these things will lead it to being, rejected. Did I mention that no one likes rejection? LOL

Passwords must include 8 alphabetic letters, at least one number, and a special character: EXAMPLE: SloppyZombie77! = 12 alphabetic letters, the numbers 77 and the !. You also can't have the same password as before - best to add a different number on the end of a favorite password as long as it's longer than 8 characters. Again, EASY HOW TO: Screenshots & graphics on the HCPSS Account Self Service directions

YouTube Video Directions


Download the handy Chromebook Guide PDF PDF iconChromebookOverviewStudent.pdf

Chromebook Quick Start to WiFi Guide PDF PDF iconjoin-chromebook-to-wifi_english.pdf

Technology Account Information for HCPSS students PDF PDF iconTechnology account information for new HCPSS student.pdf

HCPSS Student Technology Duties & Obligations PDF  

CANVAS Help -- through Canvas: Log into Canvas and on HELP on the Left: You have the option to

 For Google Drive assignments: 

Follow the steps below:

- Before submitting Google Drive assignments make sure your file has a title on it  and your Share is set to- Or anyone with the link

-Go to the assignment on Canvas "Family Project writing"

-Click on Submit assignment

Click your option:

Google Canvas

- Media(video or audio), File Upload (only if file is from device or computer)

-Google Drive (if work is on Drive). 

-To authorize it, log out of your personal Google account and log in to the school Google account to access the work from that drive. 

-Once authorize all your files on Drive will come up. Find the one you need and submit it.  


Something Weird on Your Chromebook? Maybe you need a Refresh!

Overview: The Refresh Procedure cuts power completely to the main board and causes it to reinitialize. This typically corrects any issues with ChromeOS loading.

1. Turn off your Chromebook by pressing one of the power buttons, or by clicking into the menu in the bottom-right corner and selecting the power icon. 

2. Press and hold the Refresh button (which is located just above the 3 and 4 keys) and tap the Power button. (Do not hold down the Power button)

3. Release the refresh button when you see your Chromebook starting back up. 

MORE about Refresh & RESET.

For the students who do not have WiFI at home.

The parent logs into Connect and then clicks on Student Technology on the bottom left, they can choose Internet Access as a choice to be included with the Device. However, we do not have hotspots yet.  In the meantime, please take note of the below – specifically the Xfinity WiFi, as it is free. They could check to see if where they live is covered by that service.

  • Comcast has opened free access to its Xfinity WiFi network, making hotspots across the country available to anyone, including non-subscribers, at no cost. Search by zip code or city to find a hotspot near you at Comcast is also providing low cost internet access to eligible families through its Internet Essentials program.

Parents - Do you have questions about Filtering on the HCPSS Chromebooks? 

Thank you for reaching out to learn more about how internet content filtering works. Please find below information regarding how filtering works and the technology HCPSS currently has in place. 


Content filters are put into place in compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) to address concerns about children's access to obscene or harmful content over the internet. Filters work by vendors categorizing sites into buckets, and then the organization applies settings to block certain categories (e.g., weapons). Content filters are not utilized to block all sites other than those used for virtual instruction. Additionally, due to the sheer number of internet sites, it is important to recognize that content filters are not infallible. However, anyone can request a site be reviewed and considered for recategorization. You can review the categories that are blocked and find the link to request review on the Student Technology Resources page.


HCPSS has blocked the category “weapons,” which means the filter will block sites that have been categorized this way because the web content is dedicated to guns, swords, knives and/or other weapons. It does not guarantee that a site in an accessible category will not have content related to weapons, for example, YouTube. As a content hosting site there is a wide variety of content. Because YouTube is an allowed site, a video with weapons could potentially be accessible alongside a video showing how solar eclipses work. Currently, HCPSS does not have technology that filters specific videos on that site. is blocked under the category of Mature-Games. Websites are continuously being added, evolving or changing ownership, and so a site’s category may change, which would potentially change their accessibility.  


The content filter on an HCPSS device is not customizable for individuals and the settings are universal for students. HCPSS does not have technology that allows parents to customize settings on a school system-issued Chromebook. If you wish to put further restrictions on your home internet, you may find it helpful to look for personal network-related content filtering/security technologies such as Circle or others. You may also find it helpful to apply Internet access time restrictions to your home network. Please note that any optional applications or home network configurations are the responsibility of the family and not supported by the school system. Instead the family would need to seek any necessary support from the Internet service provider. 


We encourage parents/guardians to continue to monitor their children’s use of internet sites and services. Students using an HCPSS device cannot clear the browsing history and parents can review it by following directions on the Student Technology Resources page. Additionally, please feel free to reach out to your child’s school counselor to discuss non-technology-related strategies that may support your efforts. 


Thank you for reaching out about the content filter. I hope the information above provides you with the information you need.

From: Justin Benedict. Executive Director. Information Technology


You can also always email me if the above doesn't help. If I don't know the answer, I will either refer you to the right person or research it and get back to you!

gwyneth_jones at @hcpss dot org


We can do this!

End of Quarter 1 Checklist - Download the PDF - PDF iconMHMS End of Quarter 1 Checklist .pdf