Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Google Slides Video Options

Disclaimer: I wrote this being completely free of Microsoft Office since the spring of 2015. I understand updates I have not experienced have occurred since then.

Google Drive 

It was six years ago that I first experienced using Google Drive. I've been a fan of Docs, Sheets, and Slides ever since. It long was before Microsoft had any live collaborative capabilities; prior to any decent cloud storage they had to offer. Access has always been the trump card over the Office counterparts.

Though it isn't as prevalent as it was six years ago, I still get naysayers that love their Office and fire back that it isn't fully functional. I can't really argue that point. For the most part, it is true that Office is much more powerful in regards to function. For the majority of tasks, Google will do the job. Especially for educators, Google will do the job. In some scenarios, Google does it better.

Common Slides questions

Since the dawn of Google Slides, I get some pretty standard questions. Here in the last few months, Google has resolved them for me.

Can you use videos from places other than YouTube in Google Slides?

Inserting video straight from Google Drive is now available. This provides a great alternative for teachers. Not everyone feels comfortable posting content on YouTube even with the privacy options that are available. When selecting Google Drive, you can search by file names or utilize the recent tab if the video is relevant chronologically.

What if I only want part of a video from YouTube? Can I insert just a section into Google Slides?

This was always a difficult question as it was possible; the question of whether or not you were breaking copyright came into play. To be on the safe side, I didn't offer advice on how to go about trimming a video and inserting it into Google Slides. I generally told teachers to state the start and end time in text format on their slides so that their students knew what section they should view. Users can now select a start and end time all while previewing the video straight from Google Slides. No need for a third-party app to trim and download a video. This feature is available whether you insert a video from YouTube or Google Drive.

Can I have a video automatically start when I'm presenting?

This feature is finally available. This will allow you and your students to have that streamlined presentation experience of having a slide automatically start a video without having to move over to the device manually. I'm still looking for the opportunity to have more control over the timing, but this is a step in the right direction. If Google adds the ability to animate a video into the Slides presentation, I'll be fully satisfied.

Can I automatically mute the audio on a video?

Just kidding about this one being a common question. I don't know that I've ever been asked this, but I thought I would make note of it since it is a feature that has been added to the video options. It is handy if you want merely want an animation without going through the trouble of creating an animated gif. You could even create a screencast using Screencastify and talk through the steps that were taken in a live presentation without bending over your device. This would be great in a keynote/traditional presentation scenario.

Video Options

For a quick overview of these features, check out my video below. It will demonstrate for you how to access the video options available in Google Slides.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Google Takeout Transfer

How do I download my stuff?

It was spring of 2016 and our senior class at Angola High School moved on to bigger and better things. I had just finished my first year at MSD of Steuben. My technology director, Chantell Manahan, had started in January and it was her first time in a position in the technology world as she was fresh out of the classroom. Admittedly, we had (still have) much to learn and much of that occurs through mistakes. It was at this time that Chantell and myself started to receive emails from parents and students requesting access to content that students had created in their Google Drive. 

We had made the senior class accounts go dormant in the summer of 2016. It had apparently slipped our minds that this would be a necessary step. In our Google Admin Console, we have it set so that students cannot log out of their school account nor utilize an incognito window. The current plan is to allow our senior class to launch an incognito window in the final quarter, create a new or utilize an existing Gmail account, and transfer their Google Drive and Gmail content to a personal account.

Staff retirees 

We also have quite a few staff members that would like access to their Google Drive content after they leave. Obviously, not all content is desired. Teachers will want to be sure that they are conscious of transferring documents containing personally sensitive materials to their own account. I would recommend removing those items prior to transfer. If this proves to be too difficult, it might be easier to download the desired content and upload it into your personal Google account. Either method would work. 

Why transfer?

You have quite a few options for moving your content. You could download all your content using Google Takeout. The majority of teachers would find it to be cumbersome to decide what elements to keep and then go through the process of transferring by manually uploading content. I like the idea of using the Google Takeout Transfer option because it only lets you choose between Gmail and Drive. That's usually all the content that teachers really want. Also, it automatically moves it over. There is no need for a teacher to go through the steps of uploading content to a personal account; Transfer does it for them. 

Want a quicker route for accessing the transfer site? Visit: 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Google Meet

Goodbye Hangouts

For the last year, there has been much discussion about the fate of Google Hangouts. Google announced the launch of Allo and Duo as messaging and video conference apps that would be available on mobile devices in the consumer market. Questions of what would happen to Hangouts flooded the Google world. It was then announced that Hangouts would remain for enterprise accounts (GSuite for Education). This was great. My teachers and staff have been using Hangouts all year. This has been especially helpful for my elementary teachers as they often do grade-level collaboration via Hangouts so that they can all meet at 3:00, finish at 3:30, and never leave the comfort of their classroom. 

Change is brewing

In February, a new player emerged: Google Meet. Hangouts are still in existence and still being used. However, Google Meet is now available. It even appears very similar to Google Hangouts. Much of the same functions and interface are there. You can still screen-share and present to the whole audience. You can still send invitations via Google Calendar. You can still remove people that are being problematic. You can still mute your microphone or camera if necessary. It is almost exactly the same as Google Hangouts. 

What is different is performance. Google Meet is to be able to handle more attendees (30 in enterprise accounts) and provide better video/audio quality. It also is not available for the consumer market to launch meetings. They can join existing GSuite customers, but cannot launch their own Meet session. A link is simply provided via Google Calendar or the meeting organizer can copy the link to the session and email/message it to participants. It is also supposed to allow individuals to call in using their phones, but I do not see that option in my GSuite account during the time of this post. (I will be sure to revisit when it is available.)

For users on mobile devices (iPad, iPhone, Android, etc.), they will need to download the appropriate app to participate in a Meet session. You can download it for iOS here. The download for Android is available by clicking here. If your participants do not have the necessary apps, it will prompt them to download when they click on the Google Meet link provided at the session start in Calendar.

With the changes in performance and accessibility, Meet would provide a great opportunity to hold online conferences with parents/community members. With 30 participants at a time, the majority of your class could have parents sign up for an online informational meeting. How exciting is that?!?

GSuite change

Google Meet needs to be enabled for your school district. You can tell immediately if it is available by visiting Google Calendar. When you create an event, your video meeting details will say, "Joining info" instead. It will also state that it will be added once you save the event. Then when you enter the event again, the joining info will have a address. See below: 

What's in the video?

I created a video covering much of the topic of Google Meet. If it needs to be enabled, I included a small section showing how to enable it for your school's domain. That portion can be sent to your technology department to enable if necessary. I also quickly cover how to create an event and participate using Google Meet. If you have ever used Google Hangouts, it will not be a difficult transition. If this is brand new to you, I'd be happy to do a test run on Google Meet. Let me know if there is interest and I will schedule a practice event!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Streamline Hyperdocs with DocuTube


I love doing presentations on hyperdocs. Laying out learning experiences for students via Google Slides or Google Docs and using it for opportunities to differentiate and/or personalize learning is powerful. I love doing the same thing for teachers so that they can organize their thoughts and collaborate. As I was presenting on hyperdocs this week, we discussed why digital collaboration is valuable to a face-to-face meeting. One of my teachers said, "It is a springboard for the conversation." It creates focus. It creates purpose. I found it to be very profound.

I recently presented on the Indestructible Hyperdoc at the Indiana Google Summit. It is about editing the master in slides to organize and create learning experience for kids that they cannot easily destroy. Let's face it, you don't want kids deleting your questions or links to resources on the templates that you create for them. Using Google Slides resolves that issue. I also was always a big fan of using Slides because you could insert a YouTube video directly on the slide. It is even better now because you can even insert a video from Google Drive (game changer)! Using Google Slides as a hyperdoc provides so many opportunities for you as a teacher to customize the learning experience and also provide unique ways for students to respond.

Why DocuTube?

So with all the options that Google Slides offers, why bother with Google Docs? I still like the layout of a document. I like inserting tables and love how it automatically expands for students as they add their responses. It compacts a collaborative experience. I like utilizing colors within tables to categorize responses, groups, or even questions. (See example here.) The problem was still dealing with video. If you linked a video, it would take the students out of the document and lead them to YouTube. For students, this creates more distraction. For adults that struggle with technology, they don't like to deal with additional tabs. 

DocuTube solves this problem. It is a Google Docs add-on that creates a pop-up within the Doc. Any YouTube videos linked in the doc will appear in that pop-up. It removes the suggested videos off to the side. It removes the need to venture off to YouTube. It removes distractions. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Open Responses in Google Forms

"Done is better than perfect..." - Eric Curts

Keeping up with educational technology is not easy. To be honest, I can't say that I'm even remotely successful in the task. I know teachers certainly feel this way as this frustration is expressed every time I run a workshop or do a presentation. It is my full-time job to seek out digital tools and train teachers to use them; I certainly feel the pressure. My teachers take comfort in knowing that it is okay to feel behind.

I was listening to a podcast this morning on my way to school (time efficient professional development) that featured Eric Curts. The hosts (Brian Briggs and Ryan O'Donnell) asked the question of how Eric keeps up with all of the trends and changes that occur in the realm of educational technology. Eric proceeded to mention his method and that many others have different positions on the topic. "Done is better than perfect." was the conclusion to that segment of the podcast. 

Never would I suggest that my materials are perfect (I can hear you laughing). Much like my teachers take comfort in my pursuit of educational technology, it was a relief to hear those words from Eric. It is okay to make mistakes. It is okay to not have everything just right. Don't let your imperfections stop you from sharing. 

My mistake

I recently had a principal ask me about Google Forms Quizzes. Had I provided training on it? Had I created resources on it? "Yes, of course, I have." was my response. So when he showed m that a teacher was not sure how to deal with an open-ended response in a Google Forms Quiz, I started to doubt myself. I checked my archives and sure enough, I had not included information on how to grade open responses. 

Google Forms is fantastic for creating quizzes and it will automatically grade a multiple choice quiz with ease. If your students need to respond with text, you will need to go through their responses and grade them individually. If a student misses and item, you can even provide text feedback and additional resources via a link directly to the question. The following video demonstrates how students can respond and you can grade the quiz within Google Forms. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

NRec: Offline Chromebook Video

Chromebook woes

Frustration has set in this year as teachers and students alike have struggled with tools such as Screencastify and Nimbus. Performance has been a huge concern in regard to the creation of videos. Audio and video aren't syncing correctly. There are times when the audio is glitching or the video starts to jump. Again, this seems to be an issue directly related to the use of the Chromebook and these resources. These are issues that weren't as prevalent in years past. 

Many teachers, like myself, prefer to take their Chromebook home to do grading or create video lessons rather than lugging home a much larger PC laptop. The portability of the Chromebook is great, but only if it is working correctly. So if you are a student or a teacher that has been frustrated due to continual performance issues in regard to recording video; NRec might be the solution. This is also a great option for individuals that do not have an Internet connection. Videos can easily be saved to Google Drive via the files app.

What it is

NRec is a no-nonsense offline video recorder for Google Chrome. You can adjust resolution, click to record, and save your video to the device. (The default setting on a Chromebook is the download folder in the Files app.) For most teachers, using a document camera (iPevo Ziggy, Elmo, Hovercam  Solo) is the easiest way to create video lessons. You can utilize any USB document camera with NRec, but it will require some adjustments the first time you use it (see video below). There are not a lot of options...but it records well. You will be less likely to lose your video or have to rerecord due to poor performance. If teachers do not have access to a document camera, they could merely use the webcam and make a recording. Standing in front of the webcam with a dry erase board works. Videos do not have to be fancy.

What it isn't

NRec does not allow you to trim, voice over, or add any special effects to your recording. It is not a screencasting tool like Screencastify or Nimbus; it only records from a camera.  It is limited, but it works. 

How to get started

If you are using a document camera, you'll need to make some slight adjustments to the settings. Please check out my video below on how to make those adjustments, recording, and saving your video to Google Drive via the Files app.