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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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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Adding Summaries to your Google Docs…

Wait, what’s this Google Doc for?

Earlier this year, Google added the ability to type up your own Summary for your doc in the left sidebar where the doc outline appears.

The outline is autogenerated by your use of headings, titles, subtitles, and other items in your doc, but the summary is something that you type in manually. 

There doesn’t appear to be a limit to how long it can be, but you’re unable to do any formatting within it. You can use Shift+Enter to add line breaks though.

This summary will appear in that left sidebar for all viewers and it also shows up in other places, like the details pane that you can see in Google Docs. That’s a nice way to tell people what the doc is before they open it.

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Get Notified of Edits to a Google Doc

Need to know as soon as someone adds something to the meeting agenda? Eagerly awaiting a student starting their first draft of an overdue paper? Want to keep a watchful eye on a super important doc? Well, Google has a new feature that can help you!

You can now choose to be notified via email if a file is edited.

And it’s on a per-file basis, meaning you can have this setting on for your staff luncheon list, but off for your assessment schedule doc.

The email that you receive will tell you the what, when, and who, of any changes that were made. You can set them from within the doc by clicking Tools, then Notification Settings. Or you can access it by clicking the comments button in the top right and then the bell.  Once you’re in there you can choose to be notified of all comments, no comments, or just comments that tag you.

And, the major new feature, you can choose to be notified about added or removed content. You’ll also see these same options in your Gmail when you receive a notification about a doc, including the ones that we’ve been receiving for years about comments.  Now there’s a notification dropdown with these additional settings.

This is available on ALL Google accounts now!

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Get the “Educational Duct Tape: An EdTech Integration Mindset” book, for your whole team or school!

Did you know you can order copies of my book, Educational Duct Tape: An EdTech Integration Mindset, for your whole teaching team, your whole school, your whole district, every person you know who is named Timothy, or every teacher you know who wears size 11.5 sneakers!?

This image shows the Educational Duct Tape: An EdTech Integration Mindset book cover as well as a 2nd book open to a page inside of the book

Well, maybe it’s not that specific, but the point is—yes, my book is on Amazon, but you can order in bulk from me for less!

So, want to do a book study at your school? Send me an email!




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