Articles posted by Richard Allaway
Google Meet Companion mode
Companion mode allows you to connect to a Google Meet without video and sound.
Why might this be useful?
You could connect a second device to a Google Meet - giving you more options in terms of presenting from one device and see all the participants on another. Using Companion mode means there is no chance of audio feedback.
If you had a group of students, in a classroom with their devices, but you wanted to use some of the tools that Meet offers such as the chat or rolls, you could get the students to connect to a Meet using Companion mode.
To join a Meet in Companion mode → In a Google Meet Invite, click Join → On the meeting landing page, under Other joining options, click Use Companion mode.
Read more here → Google Workspace Learning Center → Companion mode quick start guide
Text watermarks in Google Docs
You can now add a text watermark to your documents in Google Docs.
Text watermarks will repeat on every page on your document, making it useful for indicating file status, such as “Confidential” or “Draft” before sharing more broadly.
Read more here → Google Workspace Updates - Create or import text watermarks in Google Docs [24 January 2022]
Changes coming to Gmail
Google are introducing a new, integrated view for Gmail, making it easy to move between applications like Gmail, Chat, and Meet in one unified location.
Beginning 8 February 2022 you should be able to opt-in to test the new experience.
By April 2022 users who have not opted-in will begin seeing the new experience by default, but can revert to classic Gmail via settings.
By the end of Q2 2022 this will become the standard experience for Gmail, with no option to revert back.
Read more here → Google Workspace Updates - New integrated view for Gmail features email, Google Meet, Google Chat, and Spaces in one place [31 January 2022]
EDU in 90
Chromebook users - it's time to have another look at Cursive
Those teachers who are luckily enough to have a C13 Chromebook should take a moment to explore Cursive again.
To launch Cursive go to → https://cursive.apps.chrome
The initial pen input lag issues that we present at launch seem to have been fixed.
Read more here → chromeunboxed.com - Cursive, Google's Note-taking PWA, has been updated and is actually usable now [16 December 2021]
Google Calendar - Set aside time for focus
Google has added the ability to add 'Focus time' to your calendar "so you can block out and protect your time for heads-down individual work".
Similar to the Out of office event type, focus time has a different appearance on your calendar and includes the option to automatically decline conflicting events.
Read more here → Google Workspace Updates - Set aside time for focus in Google Calendar [20 October 2020]
Google Sheets - New intelligent suggestions for formulas and functions
You’ll now see in-line, sequential, context-aware suggestions for formulas and functions when working with data in Google Sheets.
Formula suggestions will make it easier to write new formulas accurately and help make data analysis quicker and easier.
Simply begin inserting a formula in Sheets—suggestions will be automatically displayed and as you continue to type. You can view additional incremental suggestions in the drop-down menu.
Read more here → Google Workspace Updates - New intelligent suggestions for formulas and functions in Google Sheets [25 August 2021]
Teaching with Google Arts & Culture
Google have releasing a new Teacher Guide – "a dedicated resource for educators to make learning with Arts & Culture and using the platform in class easier than ever".
"It includes ready-to-use handouts and customizable activity templates, and compliments other popular experiences on Google Arts & Culture that were designed with educators in mind. "
In my opinion Arts & Culture is one of Google's best kept secrets. It is a huge resource of super cool stuff. It is well work 10 minutes of a teachers time - whatever the subject they teach!
How about →
Google A - Z - Tools, Extensions, Programs and Courses from Google for Education
This super informative document, produced by Google for Education, outlines useful tools from Google and other trusted sources.
Well worth 15 minutes of your time to have a look through!
NEW - WeVideo Classroom
WeVideo is an online video editing platform. Students and staff at Campus des Nations have access to WeVideo accounts.
WeVideo has just released a interesting development → WeVideo Classroom.
If you would be interested in exploring how WeVideo Classroom could be integrated into your teaching and learning - please get in contact with Richard Allaway and we can have a conversation about the possibilities.
NEW ManageBac feature → Task Due Date extensions
WeVideo has introduced a new Task Due Date extensions feature, which will you to easily extend due dates for student coursework submission.
Simply navigate to the Task and scroll to the Dropbox section to Extend Due Dates by selecting a student. This will automatically notify the student of their approved extension and adjust their due date submission cut-off (Early / Late status).
NEW ManageBac Home Menu arriving soon
ManageBac reports that they will be releasing a new Home Menu in January.
"As the first landing page when you login to ManageBac, the new Home Menu has a cleaner, minimalist look & feel."
The new Home Menu will be fully customisable, so you can optionally toggle on/off sections, and pin your most important menu tiles and classes for fast access.
New Year Resolution - Get Organised with Google Tasks
The capabilities of Google Tasks are ever growing and worth a look for anybody thinking about using a digital 'to do list manager'.
Useful tip → Link directly to text and quotes
Rather than sharing a link to a whole webpage - you can now easily share a link to a certain line of text.
To create a link that opens directly to highlighted text:
- On your computer, open Chrome.
- Go to a page with text you want to share.
- To highlight the text you want to share, click and hold, then drag your mouse.
- To open the context menu, right-click on the highlighted text.
- Select Copy link to highlight.
- If you can’t select this option, this feature may not work for the selected content.
- Paste the link anywhere, like an email or message thread.
Google Meet updates - some super interesting!
Live translated captions
Live translated captions are now available for our Google Workspace editions. It's not (yet) perfect but it is certainly an interesting development. Read more here.
Up to 500 participants
Users can now host meetings in Google Meet with up to 500 participants. Read more here.
New immersive backgrounds and styles for Google Meet on the web
Five new immersive backgrounds have been added for Google Meet on the web. The backgrounds feature "subtle animation that give your background life or change your lighting." Just because you can doesn't mean you should! Read more here.
Automatically move breakout room participants back to the original meeting
There is now the ability for meeting hosts and co-hosts to automatically move participants back to the main meeting room once breakout rooms end. The visual indicators have been improved for breakout room participants to indicate this movement. Read more here.
Google – Year In Search 2021
Google produces one of these videos every year. You can explore more trends from the year at https://yearinsearch.google.
Copy a single page or subset of pages in Google Sites
Google have added the ability for editors to copy a single page or subset of pages into a new site. Previously, it was only possible to make a copy of an entire site. This feature gives site editors more control, allowing users to reuse part of a site or easily break up a large site into smaller sites.
Request and review formal document approvals in Google Docs
Once a document is sent for approval, reviewers get email, browser or Google Chat notifications, based on where they have selected in Google Drive’s web settings to receive notifications. They will then receive a link they can follow directly to the document.
If you set a due date, your reviewers will receive email reminders that their approval is needed or past due.
If you request approval from multiple people, the document is considered approved once all reviewers approve the file. If an edit is made during the approval process, all reviewers will need to re-approve the latest version of the file and will receive email notifications in those instances. The document approval request is rejected for all reviewers if a single reviewer rejects the file.
Once all reviewers approve the document, the file will be locked.
New ways to customise tables in Google Docs
Google have added several new ways to customise tables in Google Docs.
You can now:
- Pin a table header row to repeat on each page
- Designate that a row should not be split across pages
- Quickly add, and arrange columns and rows
- Sorting tables to better organize data.
- Use a new table sidebar to manage table properties
The launch of 'Essential PD bytes'
What is a 'Essential PD byte'?
A 20 minute long digital skill focused professional development session.
The aim of 'Essential PD bytes' is to offer a range of 'byte' size professional development opportunities for staff at the International School of Geneva - Campus des Nations. Each 'byte' should last no longer than 20 minutes so can easily be an agenda item at a meeting or part of a larger event.
What 'Essential PD bytes' are on offer?
Check out the ever growing list of suggested sessions here.
Mote - voice messaging for the web, integrated into the products we use
Mote - at its simplest - enables you to leave audio comments on a Google Document. So instead of typing feedback as comments - you can leave audio feedback.
We have 'unlimited' subscriptions that we can assign to interested staff so that the audio clips recorded can be 90 seconds long, rather than 30 seconds. If you are interested in benefiting from an 'unlimited' subscription - please contact Richard Allaway.
Using Mote for Google Forms
With Mote for Google Forms, you are able to leave Motes as a question in Google Forms.
We do not have Mote accounts for students - but this is something we are investigating. If you are interested in exploring how your students could use Mote as part of their learning in your subject - contact Richard Allaway.
Read more here → support.mote.com - Help! How do I use Mote for Google Forms? Troubleshooting tips
Using Mote for Google Slides
Mote for Google Slides to be the easiest, most delightful way to record and insert audio content to Google Slides.
Using Mote for Google Slides you could add explanations or instructions as part of a Google Slide deck that other will use asynchronously.
Again - we do not yet have Mote accounts for students. If you are interested in how students accounts would enable them to produce 'new' and different classroom artefacts - contact Richard Allaway.
Read more here → support.mote.com - Help! How do I use Mote for Google Slides? Troubleshooting tips
Google has been busy with a a slew of updates to Google Documents therefore I felt it important to highlight them here - plus the fact that Google Docs in 15 years old!
Google Docs has been around for 15 years
Starting as a service called Writely in 2005, Google Docs was officially launched a Google product in 2006.
Read more about 15 Google Docs milestones here → Google - The Keyword - 15 milestones, moments and more for Google Docs’ 15th birthday [11 October 2021]
Google Docs - Add a page break before paragraphs in Google Docs
You can now mark a paragraph to always begin on a new page with the new “Add page break before” option in Google Docs. This is particularly useful if you want certain paragraph styles to always create a new page such as titles, subtitles, or headings.
To insert a page break before a paragraph:
- Select the entire paragraph or click anywhere into the paragraph.
- Select an option:
• In the toolbar, go to Line & paragraph spacing Add page break before.
• At the top, go to Format Line & paragraph spacing Add page break before.
Tip: To have a heading stay at the top of a new page, you can select it and use Add page break before.
Read more here → Google Workspace Updates - Add a page break before paragraphs in Google Docs [19 October 2021]
Google Docs - Easily add to Google Docs with the new universal @ menu
Google have added a universal insertion menu to easily add things like tables and images, in addition to smart chips, directly in Google Docs. Simply type “@”, and you’ll see a list of recommended files, people, meetings, as well as different content elements and formats to insert into your document. You can also search all available components.
Read more here → Google Workspace Updates - Easily add to Google Docs with the new universal @ menu [19 October 2021]
Google Docs - More easily add citations in Google Docs with new search and automated entry function
When adding citations in Google Docs, you can now search for books and online sources, then automatically populate some attributes for those sources.
[This feature may not be available yet - it could take until the end of the month.]
Read more here → Google Workspace Updates - More easily add citations in Google Docs with new search and automated entry function [2 November 2021]
Making more use of Google Tasks
Google Tasks is Google's basic (yet very capable) to-do list manager. The easiest way to find it is to go to your Gmail, Google Calendar, Docs, Sheets or Slides. You should see the icon on the right hand side of the screen. If you can't see Tasks app, click the arrow in the bottom right corner of the screen to expand the panel.
makeuseof.com recently published a post titled '5 Tips to Use Google Tasks Effectively' which is well worth a read if you are interested in making more use of Google Tasks.
Educators should consider showing students how to use Google Tasks to organise the things that they need to do.
To-do list managers work best when they are easy to access - when you want to add something or check what needs to be done.
Google Tasks can be found in the side panel from Gmail, Google Calendar, Docs, Sheets and Slides.
TasksBoard produces a desktop app for Google Tasks.
If you like a more 'kanban board' approach check out the Kanbanly Google Chrome extension.
Splitting your screen and using multiple desktops on your Chromebook
You can split the screen on your Chromebook.
You can drag and drop windows. Just grab the window using the menu bar and drag it to the left or right edge of your screen.
You can us the maximize button. Just click and hold the button, located in the top-right corner. You'll see two arrows on the left and right of the button. Move over one of them while still holding down the mouse button and the window will be shifted there.
You can also use keyboard shortcuts to split the screen and move windows. The Alt + [ and Alt + ] shortcuts will move a window to the right or left sides of the screen.
Read more here → makeuseof.com - How to Use Split Screen Mode on Chromebook [12 September 2021]
You can add desks to organize multiple windows and multi-task on your Chromebook.
To create a desk →
- On your Chromebook keyboard, press the Show windows key .
- At the top right, select New desk.
- Optional: To rename a desk, select the desk's name and enter in your preferred name.
To go to a different desk →
- On your Chromebook keyboard, press the Show windows key .
- At the top, select a desk.
Tip: To switch to a different desk on your touchpad, swipe 4 fingers left or right.
Read more here → support.google.com - Set up & manage multiple desktops with desks
A bit of geeky fun for the break → the starting sequence from this week's 'Unleashed' Apple event - a bit of computing history and creative flair.
Add a co-host to a Google Meet
You can now assign co-hosts in a Google Meet.
Why would you want to do that? Maybe you are presenting to parents or a large group of students and you want somebody else to take the lead in admitting participants, muting etc. so that you can focus on what your the message you are sharing. If this is the case - you need a co-host!
Read more here → support.google.com - Add Co-hosts in Google Meet
Add a watermark to a Google Document
You can now add image watermarks directly into Google Docs. This watermark image will repeat behind the text on every page of your document.
Read more here → support.google.com - Change page settings on Google Docs
All staff and students in the secondary school at the International School of Geneva - Campus des Nations have access to a Soundtrap account.
Soundtrap is a very capable online application - but should also be your first stop for recording simple audio clips for classes etc.
Soundtrap offers the Soundtrap Academy where you can "learn to use Soundtrap to the fullest, empower your students, and become a Certified Soundtrap Educator."
Is it just me?
It might be...
If you are experiencing a problem with a Google Workspace application it can be worth checking the Google Workspace Status Dashboard to see if it something 'bigger than just you'.
This is the 38th 'weekly post' that I have added to digitaltechnologies.education. The 37 other posts where primarily aimed at educators. From now on I am going to try and add a monthly post focused upon digital citizenship considerations that both educators and families may find engaging.
Is it possible to make the internet safe for children?
An interesting listen from the UK based 'The Guardian' newspaper. The nature of the risks parents have to think about, the effectiveness of the approaches which can be used to reduce them, and the possible limitations of any such systems are all discussed in a sensible and balanced manner.
If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised by the podcast - please do not hesitate to contact me at school.
Childnet International Parent and Carers Toolkit
Childnet International is a non-profit organisation "working with others to help make the internet a great and safe place for children".
The Childnet International Parent and Carers Toolkit provides resources that offer practical tips and advice upon:
- Starting discussions about their online life
- Setting boundaries around online behaviour and technology use
- Finding out where to get more help and support
Does your child have a Nintendo Switch?
Does your child have a Nintendo Switch?
The UK Safer Internet Centre has a useful post about the available parental controls on the Switch.
Parental controls are useful tools as part of a larger discussion between parents and children about gaming console use, screen time and the appropriateness of certain game titles.
Helping your child to 'get things done'
Students have lots of things to juggle - and it only gets more complicated as they get older.
Google Workspace, that all the students at the International School of Geneva - Campus des Nations have access to, has two in-built digital task manager options - Google Tasks and Google Keep.
For those students looking for something a little more evolved I would highly recommend Todoist.
The effective use of a digital task manager takes practice and support. Todoist recently released A Student’s Guide to Todoist which is an interesting read for all older students (and their parents) who are looking for a tool to help them get things done in a deliberate and organised way.