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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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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Formatting Improvements in Google Forms!

Google Forms has looked pretty much the same for a long time. But, they won’t look quite the same now because Google has rolled out a handful of updates to Forms!

First, you can now adjust the fonts and font sizes of any part of your form. You can use any of your Google Docs fonts. They do limit your font sizes – Big Brother Google doesn’t want us making our fonts too big or too small – but at least we can change them.  And, you can make them different in the header, sub-header, and body text. ⬇️

I imagine Google cringing about the possible graphic design laws that you’ll all be breaking with your Google Forms, so try to keep it looking nice, all right? I think that’s why Google held off on this and the next update for such a long time – they wanted to make sure the Forms looked pretty in terms of Graphic design principles . . . but now they’re giving us some freedom.

The other part of this freedom is letting us use some basic formatting within the text. We can now make our text bold, italicized, or underlined and we can even add clickable links!  We used to have to add what are called naked links, which is not inappropriate, I promise, it means you’re including the full URL for a link. Now, you can make a hyperlink.

To recap, we now have fonts, font sizes, bold, italics, underline, and hyperlinks, plus we can also make lists—numbered or bulleted—in descriptions. Nice!

These features are for all Google accounts and should already be active for you!

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Google Classroom Add-Ons!

Google has just unveiled Add-Ons for Google Classroom. 📚

Now, before I go too far, I want to point out – these are only for educators on the Google Workspace for Education Plus edition or the Teaching & Learning Upgrade. If you’re in the free Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals or the lowest paid version, called Education Standard, you won’t have these Add-Ons.  Don’t cry too much – you can still use all of these tools, just without the added convenience of the Classroom Add-Ons.

While those users cry in their Cheerios, I’ll talk to those of you who are in those special accounts about what you’re getting. ⬇️

Google has partnered with 18 different tools to make it easier to assign stuff from their tools within Classroom.

Those tools include Edpuzzle, Kahoot!, PBS Learning Media, Google Play Books, Sora, Newsela, Safari Montage, Google Arts and Culture, IXL, cK-12, BookWidgets, Adobe Express, WeVideo, Formative, Pear Deck, Nearpod, Wordwall, and Genially.

On the student end, this is nice because these tools become easy, one-click logins from within Google Classroom. The less jumping around we make our students do, the better.

On the teacher end, assigning things is streamlined, but the real bonus is the grading piece. While some tools – like Edpuzzle – have long synced grades into Classroom others – like Pear Deck – have not. Now you can access many of those tools with that trademark grading sidebar right there. So, you can enter grades into Classroom while looking at the actual tool. Plus, more of them now sync like Edpuzzle has for a while.

⬇️Let’s take a peek at a few of these.

First up, let’s look at Kahoot. For the most part, nothing new is happening here – Kahoot works the same and Google Classroom works the same, but now you can assign a Kahoot from within Classroom, without going to Kahoot in a separate tab, and the students just click that link and Kahoot pops up.

The behavior with Pear Deck is similar, but I’m extra excited about this one. Last year, if I wanted to assign a Pear Deck assignment for my students to complete on their own time, I typically opened the slide deck, click the Pear Deck Add-On, started a student-paced activity, then clicked the share to Google Classroom link in the pop up menu.  Now, with the Add-On, you assign directly from classroom.  You still have to have a slide deck that’s ready to go, but the process is much smoother for you. And it’s easy for your students too, click, go, and then – the new step – turn it in.

Edpuzzle behaves similarly. Edpuzzle has sent scores to Classroom for some time, so the main bonus here is that you can add comments in Google Classroom while looking at the Edpuzzle screen.

Similarly, with Nearpod, you can see the robust assessment data that Nearpod provides from within the Classroom grading window and manually type the score and any comments from right there. Not a major improvement, but we know that every second counts. And for a high school teacher, if you can make your grading 1 second faster for each of your 120 students, you just might have time for a bathroom break. Yay you!

There are a bunch of other tools that I didn’t share specifics about – PBS Learning Media, Google Play Books, Sora, Newsela, Safari Montage, Google Arts and Culture, IXL, cK-12, BookWidgets, Adobe Express, WeVideo, Formative, Wordwall, and Genially. It’s pretty similar for all of those – faster assigning, faster student access, and smoother feedback processes.

Google is hinting that there will be more than just these 18 tools in the future too.

Again though, this is only for schools with Google Workspace for Education Plus edition or the Teaching & Learning Upgrade.

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Making Multiple Text Selections in Google Docs

I just used Google Docs to write a blog post referencing my book, Educational Duct Tape, and while proofreading it I noticed I totally forgot to italicize the book title each time I referenced it.  I could fix one of them and use the paint format tool to apply that fix to all of them . . . or I could fix one of them, copy it, and then paste it in place of the other ones or . . .

💡I could use the new multiple text selection option in Google Docs.

You can now highlight a set of text–or double click a single word–and then hold down control, or command on a Mac, while highlighting other text or double-clicking other words, and they’ll all be selected!

I can now use this to select multiple instances of the phrase Educational Duct Tape and make them all be italicized!  You can also do this to delete multiple chunks of text at once or even copy them. 

The copy option is weird, because it just copies those words and then you paste just those words. It’s interesting.

You can also use it with pasting.  For example, if I want to add the book’s subtitle – An EdTech Integration Mindset – each time the title is referenced, I can copy the full title with the subtitle, select all instances of the title, and click paste, and it’ll paste it in each place! Pretty cool stuff.

This feature should be active in all Google accounts at this point. 

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Chromebooks are getting their own screencasting app!

📺 Check this out in video form on TikTokInstagram Reels, or YouTube Shorts. 📺

Once upon a time, the market for screencasting on Chromebooks was a 1-app game – Screencastify. But later others came on the scene, Screencast-o-matic, Loom, Flipgrid, and way too many for me to list here.

Well, better late than never, Google has joined this party! I’m not sure what took them so long, but Google is adding a Screencast app, built into Chrome OS in M103. 🎉

It will let you record your entire screen or a portion of your screen along with your webcam and your voice. Like most screencast solutions, it also lets you annotate on the screen while recording. Up to that point, it’s pretty similar to the other Chromebook screencasting options. What sets Google’s native option apart are a few things. 

First, the recordings are automatically stored in your Drive and, therefore, are easily shared with your colleagues and students. Likewise, it’s easy for your students to record things and submit them to you, plus it means student data is going to fewer servers since it’s staying within the Google ecosystem. 

My favorite part, though, is the automated transcript created with your recording. 📝

It is auto-generated but you can edit the text as needed.  The viewer sees that transcript alongside the video, they can use the transcript to jump to specific spots in the video, and they can even search the transcript for certain words.

You can also translate that transcript into any Google Translate-supported language. The UDL (Universal Design for Learning) here is off the charts. But, my favorite part, is that you can also edit out parts of the recording by clicking on parts of the transcript and clicking “skip.”  That edits them right out of the video.

Now, the catch here is that’s as far as your editing can go. If you want to fine-tune your video and become a YouTuber, this is not the tool for you. But if you want a screencasting tool for your classroom this may be the right one for you.

I should note that the transcript is only there for viewers who are also using Chromebooks. You can share the video with a non-Chromebook user. They’ll be able to see the raw video, but it won’t include the transcript and it won’t skip any sections that you opted for to skip. 

This tool is really only optimized for people recording on Chromebooks for viewers who will watch on Chromebooks, so keep that in mind.

📹 Here is Eric Curts’ video demo of the tool which does a great job showing what it can do. This feature, by the way, should be available in all Google accounts when using a Chromebook that’s on Version 103.

📺 Check this out in video form on TikTokInstagram Reels, or YouTube Shorts. 📺

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Comment with Emojis in Google Docs

📣 Guess what’s here? Emoji Reactions in Google Docs!

📺  Check this out in video form on TikTokInstagram Reels, or YouTube Shorts. 📺 

Smiley face! Face with open mouth! Thinking face! Face with tears of joy! Pile of poo! We all love emojis and now we can use them in lieu of comments in Google Docs.

Now if you highlight some text you’ll see 3 options on the right side of the screen: add comment, add emoji reaction, and suggested edits. Other people who have editing or commenting access can then click on the same emoji to upvote (now it’ll show the same emoji with a 2 next to it) or they can highlight the text and add a different emoji.

How to add emoji reaction in Google Docs as Comments

You can add multiple emojis to the same spot as well.  If you click an emoji reaction that you’ve already added, it’ll make that reaction go away, or if there is more than one of it, it’ll reduce the number by one. When you hover the cursor over them, you can see who the emojis are from. They can also be resolved just like comments. These emojis also appear in the comments menu in the top right corner, near the share button.

Emoji reactions are just like comments – they can only be added or viewed if you have editing or commenting access. People who are only viewers will neither see the emoji reactions nor be able to add reactions of their own. 

I love that Google made it possible to add ANY emoji, not just a handful, like thumbs up or smiley faces. Plus, when appropriate, there are different skin tones and gender options, including gender-neutral emoji.

(This update is available in ALL Google accounts including free ones.)

📺  Check this out in video form on TikTokInstagram Reels, or YouTube Shorts. 📺 

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Google adds Dropdown Menus and New Smart Chips to Google Docs!

OMG you can have dropdown menus in Google Docs now—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

📺 Check it out in video form on TikTokInstagram Reels, or YouTube Shorts. 📺 

These additions primarily relate to the Google Docs smart chips menu that pops up when you type in an “@” symbol. Well, it now features a boatload of goodies. Many of them are just quick access to things we already had access to within the regular toolbar menus, but some surprises popped up recently.

Let’s run through all of the stuff that’s in there— 

  • People – tag people in your doc
  • Building blocks – insert templates that Google provides for things like meeting notes and email drafts
  • Files – add links to Google Drive files
  • Checklists, numbered lists, and bulleted lists
  • Images, drawings, and charts
  • Dates – easily jump to your calendar
  • Text formatting selections – normal text, heading, title, etc.
  • Calendar events
  • Page components like page numbers, page counts, headers, footers, page breaks, and watermarks—by the way, it’s crazy easy to add watermarks to Google docs now, have you tried it?
  • A table, plus some slick table templates that Google provides
  • Horizontal line, table of contents, bookmarks, footnotes, equations, special characters, and links.

Most of that is not that big of news, and almost all of it can be accessed from one of the normal menus at the top of the screen.

The big one is the last option in that “@” menu, which I left out in that list— Dropdowns!

You can select one of their pre-made dropdown sets or, the big news for teachers, you can make your own set

You can put in as many options as you want (at least as far as I can tell—I added 30 in my test).

You add the text and then select the color for each option. If this is a dropdown you’ll use regularly, you can even save it to use in the future! Plus if you copy the dropdown, you can then paste it elsewhere with the same options! It’s really rad.

Dropdown is also in the Insert menu at the top of the screen, so you can get to it from there too. 

There are lots of potential applications in the classroom from multiple choice questions, to a work feedback cycle, to the management of student-paced or personalized learning setups, and more!

These dropdowns and the smart chips are available to ALL GOOGLE USERS.

📺 Check it out in video form on TikTokInstagram Reels, or YouTube Shorts. 📺 

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Google is letting us go pageless in Google Docs…

If we only print a fraction of the Google Docs we create, why are our docs formatted for 8.5” by 11” paper, when our computer screens are not 8.5” by 11”!?

Well, Google finally realized this and offered up a pageless documents setting

Just go to File > Page Setup and select Pagelesss to start! You’ll notice that your page looks pretty much the same except for the boundary around the page disappearing. 

Sure, page breaks will disappear as will headers, footers, and footnotes, but the width of your text will still fit a typical piece of paper.

You’ll now want to click on View > Text Width and select a different text. Then, when you change the normal zoom option that you see in the toolbar, it’ll make your text larger without zooming in to the page itself.  The real benefit is being able to make tables and images as wide as you’d like.  I think this feature has some room to grow, but I’m really glad to see it added!

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