Auto-Generated Summaries in Google Docs!

Auto-generated summaries in Google Docs!? Let’s talk about it…

Several blog posts ago, I shared about adding summaries to your Google Docs—you do that in the left-side menu where the document outline is. Those summaries also show up in other locations, like in Google Drive.

What I did not share (or realize) at that point, was for some of you those summaries will be auto-generated, at least if the document is long enough. Yup, you did all of the work on the doc itself, why should you have to do all of the work on the summary as well?  You’ll find what Google calls a “suggested summary” in that same location and you can then edit them if you’d like!

Here’s an example of what that looks like in your Google Docs workspace:

The announcement says that these are available to Education Plus users but not Education Fundamentals users.

Now, you might be thinking, “Jake, aren’t there 4 education account types!? What about Education Standard and Education Teaching & Learning users?”  Well, dear reader, I have no stinking idea. Because does Google make their communication about their accounts clear? NOPE. There are now more than a dozen account types, when you count non-eduation ones, and some updates clearly list whether they apply to all of them or not, while this one only lists some of the account types.

So, help me out, if you know what kind of Google Workspace for Education account you have – Plus, Fundamentals, Standard, or Teaching & Learning Upgrade – I’d love to hear if you get summary suggestions. And if you work for Google, I’d love for you to tell someone to make your account level and feature availability messaging clearer.

Seriously, just add a chart, the same chart every time, with checkmarks or X’s to each announcement.  This account type has it, this one does not.  Sheesh. Is it really that difficult?

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Canva Docs

Canva Docs is currently in beta and you can sign up to join the waitlist at!

Their site says that it will be “a visual-first document creator that allows you to design documents supercharged with videos, images, graphics, charts, and graphs.” If you’re happy with more stripped down docs, than you’re probably going to be satisfied with Google Docs or Microsoft Word. Honestly, they almost certainly have more of the functional tools that we expect from Docs. But if you need your docs to be be visually appealing, than you’re going to want to check this out. And, guess what: your students probably prefer eye-catching docs, so you may want THEM to use Canva Docs instead! 

The site reports that Canva Docs will have a drag-and-drop editor for adding and editing visual content, hassle-free data visualization tools for adding checklists, tables, graphs, and charts, and Canva’s extensive content library of videos, images, graphics, and more.

For that content library, you can just type a backslash and it’ll show you the options. You can collaborate, you can comment, and you can work on any kind of device.

For the most part, that’s not all that different from Google Docs or Microsoft Word. But they’re thinking out of the box here, too.

Check this out: You can share your docs online and viewers can interact with it like a website. You can track audience interactions, such as who has viewed your Docs and when. And, you can easily turn your Doc into a Canva presentation, using their “Docs to Decks” feature! You can even create and embed other Canva designs like whiteboards and other visuals.

It does look, however, like Canva Edu users will be capped at 100GB storage for all of their designs. That should be plenty, but it’s worth keeping an eye on this to see how big these eye-catching documents are.

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The Canva Visual Worksuite

Canva has been moving and shaking lately! I’ve recently shared about updates to Canva video, the addition of Canva whiteboards, Canva presentation enhancements, and some Canva courses for students. But they went and topped all of that with the Visual Worksuite!

The tool that used to be a novelty for creating visuals and print media can now do darn near everything. Their Visual Workspace now includes Docs, Whiteboards, Presentations, Social, Video, Print, and Websites!

Their site calls it “the perfect end-to-end solution for businesses, nonprofits, educators, content creators, and anyone who wants to make an impact with visual communication.” And I think they’re right!

These tools all use Canva’s familiar drag and drop editing, so once you’re used to it in one spot, you’ll just apply it in another spot. And, best of all, they’re all collaborative and work with the recent addition of Canva for Teams, meaning you can identify a certain set of collaborators that you work with as a team and have a collection of brand materials, like your school colors, that everyone can access.

The most exciting ones here, in my opinion, are Docs and Websites.


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Jake’s Holiday Gift List for teachers . . . or anyone!

((More to come!! Check back soon for additional items!))

Note: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associated Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to fund my work by linking to and affiliated sites.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases on some of the items below.

If you’re like me, you might be thinking ’tis the season of being stressed out about the gifts I have to buy!

If you’re a parent, you might be thinking ’tis the season of trying to figure out what my kid’s teacher would like for a gift!

If you’re a teacher, you might be thinking what should I get for my colleagues?

Or you might even be thinking whew! It’s been a tough year. I should reward myself . . . but with what!?

Well, I’d like to offer up a few suggestions! 🔔🎶 These are a few of my favorite things! 🔔🎶

By the way, they’re not all teacher-specific ideas! Many of them would be great for anyone on your gift list!

My favorite lunchtime tech
Crockpot Electric Lunch Box, Portable Food Warmer for On-the-Go, 20-Ounce

Why are teachers’ lunchtimes so short!? Why are staff lounge microwaves always soooo slow!? Seriously, I actually stopped packing leftovers for lunch (and I love leftovers!) because by the time my food was warm, I only had 13 minutes to eat it. But then, my wife, who is amazing, bought me one of these handy-dandy gadgets!  Pop your leftovers in your Crockpot Electric Portable Food Warmer at the start of the day and 2-3 hours later, your lunch is ready! Just open it up, turn on the most recent episode of The EdTech News Brief and enjoy your lunch!

Oh, and by the way, this will also help you avoid that horrible smell in the microwave after your weird coworker microwaves their fish (or whatever that was).

My favorite notebook
Rocketbook Flip – with 1 Pilot Frixion Pen & 1 Microfiber Cloth Included

I love taking notes in my Rocketbook Flip notebook! I prefer the letter size because it feels like I’m writing on a legal pad, but I can save those notes to my Google Drive (or Dropbox, Evernote, OneNote, Slack, iCloud, email, and more) and then wipe the page off and reuse it!

If you prefer regular (not flip-style) notebooks, check out this one with lined pages or this one with dot-grid pages.

My favorite pens for my favorite notebook
Pilot FriXion Ball 0.7mm Erasable Gel Pens, Fine Point

If you’re using a Rocketbook, you can use any of the Pilot FriXion erasable pens with them. My favorites are the Pilot FriXion Ball 0.7mm Erasable Gel Pens! I’ve also heard good things about this pack of assorted color Pilot FriXion Fineliner Marker Pens though I’ve never tried them myself

GIF Sticker Frenemy 2-pack
GIF/JIF Stickers!

How do you pronounce it? You can tell everyone by putting one of these stickers on your laptop, phone, water bottle, forehead… wherever! Grab stickers for yourself or gift a sticker to a friend here.

My favorite coffee mug
YETI Rambler 20 oz Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Tumbler w/MagSlider Lid

I hate cold hot coffee.  I do like cold brew coffee, but I hate coffee that started hot and ended up cold. I’m not sure why, but I bet you agree. If you’re like me, you need something to keep your coffee hot! Personally, I always use my 20 oz YETI mug to keep my coffee just right!

By the way, did you know that you can purchase extra MagSliders? You’re welcome.

my favorite podcasting equipment
Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

Since you’re reading this post, you’re likely already familiar with my Educational Duct Tape and The EdTech News Brief podcasts. Having recorded more than 120 podcast episodes and been a guest on dozens of other ones, I have some podcast equipment recommendations, too.

Samson Technologies Q2U USB/XLR Dynamic Microphone Recording and Podcasting Pack

First: microphones. I use an earlier model of the Audio-Technica ATR-2100x. It’s not super expensive, it connects via USB (and XLR!), is easy-to-use, and sounds great!  If I was starting now, though, I’d probably purchase the Samson Q2U. It’s a very similar mic and tends to cost a little less.  If you’re podcasting alone in a room (i.e., not multiple people physically together), you can’t go wrong with either of these.

Next: some accessories.

Whichever mic you use, make sure you have a pop filter and/or windscreen for it. Here’s the windscreen that I use.

InnoGear Microphone Stand for Blue Yeti Adjustable Suspension Boom Scissor Arm Stand

My podcast recording space is also my desk, so I need to be able to get the microphone out of my way when I don’t need it. So, I use a boom scissor arm stand. I have it mounted to the back of my desk and I can pull the mic towards me when I need it and push it away when I don’t. I’ve been happy with my InnoGear Stand.

My favorite webcam
Logitech C930e 1080P HD Video Webcam

The EdTech News Brief podcast is also a video show on YouTube. That means I need a webcam and the built-in one on my MacBook Pro ain’t cutting it. I currently use a Logitech C930e and have been very happy with it.

Logitech Brio 4K Webcam

While the C930e is good enough for Zoom calls and short interviews, sometimes I wish it was a little higher quality for my YouTube channel. I’m debating upgrading and, if I do, I’ll likely go with the Logitech BRIO 4K. I used one for a keynote years ago and was very pleased with the video quality.

If you just want to look good on Zooms and such, the C930e should be good.  If you’re hoping to record some professional-looking videos and don’t mind paying more, check out the BRIO.

my favorite presentation clicker
Logitech Spotlight Presentation Remote

I’m a little obsessed with my Logitech Spotlight Presentation Remote. It’s not just a good-looking remote either: it has some really rad features and feels great in my hand. While most presentation remotes just click forward on slides, this one can also highlight and magnify on-screen, control your mouse to start a video, and vibrate to alert you when it’s time to wrap up your presentation! Plus, it works in Google Slides, PowerPoint, Keynote, and more! I’ve got the charcoal one, but check out how cool that gold one is!!

my favorite on-the-go charger packs
2-Pack Miady 10000mAh Dual USB Portable Chargers

Whether you’re spending an entire day at a kid’s activity (baseball tournaments, swim meets, etc.) or getting your steps in at an EdTech conference, your phone and other devices may need a little extra juice on-the-go.  My family has been very happy with these portable charger packs!

My favorite book of dad jokes
The World’s Greatest Dad Jokes: The Complete Collection (The Heirloom Edition)

If you listen to The EdTech News Brief podcast or video show, you know that each episode ends with a “dad joke” from The World’s Greatest Dad Jokes: The Complete Collection (The Heirloom Edition): Over 500 Cringe-Worthy Puns and One-Liners book. I love it because it was the last Christmas gift that I received from my Mom before she passed away. But, bonus, it actually has some pretty hysterical jokes in it!

My favorite book that I wrote
Educational Duct Tape: An EdTech Integration Mindset

On the topic of books, did you know that I wrote one? It’s true! I’d love to send you–or a teacher on your shopping list–a signed copy with a personalized note! Plus, with shipping included, it’s about the same price as a non-signed, non-personalized copy from Amazon. You can get more details about Educational Duct Tape: An EdTech Integration Mindset and order your copy here.

My three books that impacted me the most

I’ve read plenty of books and have loved many of them. But these are the three that impacted me the most:

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

📕 Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel Pink – I haven’t seen classrooms, professional developments, or motivation the same way since I read this book. If you’ve never read it – whether you’re a teacher or not – you’re missing out.

What to Do When it’s Your Turn: (And it’s Always Your Turn)

📕 What to Do When it’s Your Turn: (And it’s Always Your Turn) by Seth Godin – I podcast because I read this book.  I blog because I read this book. I have the job I have today because I read this book. It changed my life trajectory, plain and simple. If you’ve got aspirations, read this book.

The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity

📕 The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity by George Couros – On the Educational Duct Tape podcast, I often talk about the adjacent possible. I first heard about this idea–and plenty of other great ideas–in Couros’ first book.

My favorite tool for quick paper grading
Kucaa Hand-held 1/4 inch 6mm Star Shape Metal Silver Heavy Duty Single Hole Punch

If you assign work on paper and prefer to check them for completion, I have a recommendation that you’re going to love! It takes too long to put a checkmark or smiley face on all of them, but you probably like to have visual proof that you checked that paper. So how can we do this? With this star hole punch you can quickly punch a star into a whole stack of papers! You can even do up to 30 pages at once!

my favorite backpack
ebags Pro Slim Jr Laptop Backpack (Heathered Graphite)

You’ve got a laptop. You’ve got a notebook. You’ve got a coffee mug. You’ve got a computer charger and a phone charger. You’ve got a portable charger pack. You’ve got 2 CLIF bars and 1 pack of Skittles. You’ve got 4 pens and a pack of tissues. You’ve got chapstick and, of course, some Aspirin (just in case). Where are you going to put it all? I swear by my ebags Pro Slim Jr Laptop Backpack. I can even comfortably carry two laptops and a few books in there without breaking my back!

my favorite inexpensive laptop stand
Laptop Stand for Desk, SOQOOL Computer Stand Riser for Desk

If you regularly hear your laptop’s fan running or feel its base getting hot, you may want to get a stand for it to set on. This lets air circulate underneath the device. While there are fancier ones out there, I’ve been satisfied when using this laptop stand with my MacBook Pro as well as with a MacBook Air that I used previously.



Note: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associated Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to fund my work by linking to and affiliated sites.

More to come!! Check back soon for additional items!

Flip – Students can See Videos and Comments in Moderated Topics

On Flip, formerly Flipgrid, you can set your topics to be moderated. That means that students’ videos and comments don’t show up to other students until you approve them.

You probably already knew that, as it’s been around for quite a while. You probably also already know that this leads to lots of students saying “Did you get my video?” or “Did you like my video?” because they just see a blank topic with no one’s videos, meaning there’s no confirmation that their video was successfully submitted either… again, until you approve it to be seen. And, sometimes, it maybe for an assessment or something you don’t want other students to see at all, so you may never make the response visible to others.

So that means that students may never know if their video is submitted and won’t be able to see any comments from you on the video . . . until now!

Now when a student submits a video to a moderated topic, they’ll see their video and, at the bottom left, they’ll see the word Hidden. That way they know it’s there, they can review it, they know it’s hidden, and, even more importantly, they can see comments that you make and so can they! This is super powerful for safe, secure teacher-student conversations.

This should be available in your Flip account already and, as with everything in Flip, is free.

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Language Settings in Edpuzzle

A quick Edpuzzle update for you today- you can now change the language that you see their options, buttons, and all of the interface in!

Just click your picture and then name in the top right, and then go to settings.  You’ll only see 4 options (English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Indonesian) for now, but hopefully there are more to come.

And, good news, your students can follow this same process to change the interface language for them as well!

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Screen Recording in Edpuzzle

Did you know that if you’re trying to prepare an Edpuzzle activity with your own video, you can actually record in Edpuzzle? It’s true!

They have a Chrome extension that records and pops the video right into Edpuzzle. You can record in-camera only, desktop, or tab mode, with your webcam in the corner. Unless, of course, you don’t want your webcam on during your screencast – in that case, you can turn it off, too!

You can then trim or cut parts of the video, select its thumbnail, and decide if you’d like it to be public or not. Once you’re done editing, you can add questions, notes, and voiceovers just like you’ve always done in Edpuzzle!

That same extension, by the way, adds a button in YouTube for sending videos straight to Edpuzzle. That’s a nice little added convenience!

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Insert emojis inline with text in Google Docs!

“@:mind blown”🤯! “@:thinking face”🤔!

Am I speaking a new top secret language? No, I’m talking about the new capability to insert emojis in your Google Docs without clicking around in any menus or using any Chrome Extensions.

Built into the Smart Chip menu (that they released a year ago) is the ability to add emojis now! If you type, for example, the “@” symbol and brain you’ll be able to get to the brain emoji from within that smart chip menu and then you’ll be able to select the brain emoji. 🧠

How to add emojis inline in Google Docs

Unfortunately, you’ll have to sift through some other results like Google Drive files and Google Maps locations that also  involve the word brain. To make it quicker, follow that @ symbol up with a colon :.

That tells the Smart Chips menu to just look at emojis.  When you do that you’ll see matching emoji results, and you can click “enter” to accept the one at the top of the list. If you type a word in that has multiple results, like smile or heart, you may have to use the arrow keys or mouse to get to the one you want. You can also click on the right arrow in the top right of the smart chips pane to see the full menu of emojis to search or scroll through.

It won’t enhance your pedagogy but it might make you a little more efficient, or make your docs—and your students’ docs, a little more fun. I’m here for each of those things!

This update is available to ALL Google users and is out now. 

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Microsoft Teams Reflect

I shared a while back about the cool SEL feature Microsoft added, called Reflect.

Well, back in August they launched an update making Reflect a featured tab in each of Microsoft Teams class – just like Assignments or Grades! As the teacher, you can go in there to see your students’ responses from throughout the school year with a handy-dandy bar graph summarizing the check-in results.  Then, you can use it to post new check-ins, including adding some custom questions! And, when you post them, you can choose if you’d like the students to see other students’ answers, anonymously of course, or not. Then you can pick where the check-in is posted to, which is nice since different teachers have different organization strategies in Teams. And you can even preview the student view, which is always a nice feature in edtech tools.

One thing that I love about Teams, by the way, is how it allows you to get a more specific idea of how your student is feeling. I can remember times in Pear Deck, for example, when a student put a frowny face, but when I asked if everything was okay they just responded with: “yah, I’m just tired.”  Here in Teams, you can get a more specific adjective for how they’re feeling.

Your students can also see a summary of how the class responded, which I think is nice for normalizing a variety of feelings.  Years ago people had to remind each other “it’s okay to not be okay.I think this goes one step further and gives proof that there are more classmates going through stuff than may meet the eye.

In the teacher view, I love the ability to filter the responses so that you can see which students they may need to follow up with. And, finally, there’s the really cool Together View that shows your class as a set of Feelings Monsters to give you a quick visual of how everyone is doing.

And a big thumbs up from me on the ability to notice trends in students’ feelings – both individually and as a class.

Microsoft Reflect Insights

Reflect and Reflect in Microsoft Teams is a FREE app and, according to their site, “meets national, regional, and industry-specific regulations for data collection and use, including GDPR and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that protects the privacy of students’ education records.”

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Canva adds Whiteboards!

In the top menu in Canva you’ll notice a new option: Whiteboards!

They’re like Padlets without rules… Google Jamboards with more tools… They’re like physical whiteboards, but without having to figure out how to get more than 3 people around the board.

Collaborators can add shapes, images, videos, uploaded files, sticky notes, stickers, voting graphics, and content from Canva’s library of 100 million images, videos, and audio tracks to the collaborative spaces.

I also love how easy flow charts are. Add a shape, click a plus button, and a new shape is automatically connected with a line. But that’s not all, because these boards aren’t just blank canvases… they’ve also got templates—and of course, they’re beautiful templates. As soon as you have them ready to go in whiteboard mode, just share with specific collaborators (or students) and they can jump in and add to the board… or just jump in and watch, because you can choose to let them edit, comment, or view. You can also set it so anyone with the link can access the board. Since commenting and emoji reactions already work in Canva, they work here as well.

I love how visually appealing the interface that shows us where our collaborate are is. No more blinking brown line like we see in Google Docs, here we get colorful cursors!

Now, you don’t have to start with a whiteboard project to use the whiteboard feature. You can be in a presentation and turn it into a whiteboard with just a few clicks. Just right-click on a slide and click ‘expand to whiteboard’.

With this new level of collaboration, they had to put something in there to control the chaos: a timer! So we can now keep our meetings, presentations, activities, and lessons flowing on time.

Finally, just like most other stuff in Canva, your whiteboards can have multiple pages. Of course, you could just move all around the limitless boundaries on one page, but maybe you need a new clean page to work in. You’ve got that option! 

After your whiteboard sessions wrap up, you can send them out as a link or even download them to reflect on later.

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