Edit PDFs in the Chromebook Gallery App

Starting in ChromeOS version 104, users can now edit PDF documents using the built-in Gallery app.

For us adults, that’s great for adding a signature to a document and then sending it in. In the classroom, though, it lets students complete activities or digital worksheets and then submit them in their LMS.

So, if you open the document from the Chromebook Files app, you’ll see a text annotation option, for typing into the PDF, and a drawing option for, obviously, drawing on the PDF. It’s also got a highlighter and eraser in there too. Then you can save the completed document and submit it, send it, or whatever. This provides an additional option for those of you who haven’t found a satisfactory alternative for using fillable PDFs in the Classroom.

Sure, we could use Kami, or use the Google Classroom mobile app or put screenshot the PDF and put it in Google Slides or use Pear Deck or Nearpod or a number of other options, but if none of those work or are ideal for you: here’s another option.

This is available for all Chromebook users.

[Image(s) Source: https://blog.google/products/chromebooks/video-editing-and-other-new-features/ ]

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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. 📺

[Video Source: https://youtu.be/hHyPcIHvlxo , Header Image Source: https://blog.google/outreach-initiatives/education/theanywhereschool-overview/]

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8+ Tools for Developing Learner Profiles

Mike Mohammad joined me in episode 28 of the Educational Duct Tape Podcast to discuss 2 questions that an educator might have.  One of the topics that we discussed was learner profiles.  Mike posed the question, “How can students create a profile of themselves as a learner to share with an audience beyond the classroom?

Tools for Learner Profiles Title Image

While Mike and I did not discuss the it during the show, I want to quickly compare and contrast the terms learner profile and digital portfolio.  While there are similarities (both are typically curated by the student, both showcase the students work in school and both are often done digitally) there are also some differences (typically, digital portfolios are a showcase of academic work and growth while learner profiles also often focus on the students’ capabilities, characteristics and aptitudes as a learner).

Regardless of which end result you’re looking to cultivate in your school (learner profile, digital portfolio or a blend of both), there are plenty of tools that you can leverage.

A week after the episode in which Mike and I discusssed this aired, I hosted a Twitter chat about the questions from our talk.

Here are some of the participants’ responses to the question about learner profiles:

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15+ Tools for Student Voice

In episode 28 of the Educational Duct Tape PodcastMike Mohammad joined me for a chit-chat.  One of the topics that we discussed was student voice.  I posed the question, “How can educators provide opportunities for student voice?

Mike promptly made the distinction between student voice and student choice.  While both are powerful things to leverage in the classroom, they are very different (though we often lump them together, as Mike pointed out).

I think that educators’ definitions for the term student voice are inconsistent – some seem to believe that it simply means
– hearing each student’s answer or thinking
– while others believe that it means empowering the students to have a voice in some (or all!) aspects of their education.

Mike made it clear in his response that he subscribes to the 2nd “definition” of student voice.  His response fits with the description that Edutopia usesstudent voice involves letting “students’ input and expertise … help shape their classroom, their school, and ultimately their own learning and growth.”

I definitely believe that that is the type of student voice that we want to strive for.  In a recent #EduDuctTape chat, educators shared their favorite tool for empowering student voice.  It’s important to note that simply using the tool doesn’t provide opportunity for or empowerment of student voice.  It’s all about how you use it.

Here are some of their responses:

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Making Silhouettes in Google Slides

Adjacent Possible.  Have you heard of it?  If you listen to the Educational Duct Tape Podcast, you probably have.  It’s this theory that a new set of possibilities is enabled by taking one step beyond the current state of things.  Every step opens up new possibilities, just like every conversation with a person can lead to new possibilities that you had not considered.

Well, I had an Adjacent Possible experience a few days ago while interviewing Tony Vincent for Episode 26 of the Educational Duct Tape podcast.  Tony was responding to a question about how to help students get to know each other.  He shared with me about this activity that he had done where his students took side profile pictures of themselves and then turned them into silhouettes of in Google Slides.  They then added in images and words that showed their interests.  The students presented their slides to their classmates and, later, those same slides were played on a loop on a screen in the room.  What I love about this activity is that, on the surface, it’s a great “getting to know each other” activity.  But, underneath that, it’s also a fantastic way to teacher kids some new skills with a tool that the teacher planned on using in class.

This is actually an activity that Tony teaches participants in his fantastic Classy Graphics course. If you’re interested in learning Graphic Design with Google Tools, you should check it out!

There are certainly ways to make these silhouettes that would be easier.  But that’s not the point. The point is, opening students’ eyes to the possibilities within the tools that they have access to.  As Tony shared in the episode, his students became highly capable at using Slides to create all sorts of things.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not surprised.  By doing this activity, his students saw slides as more than just a tool for presentations.  They saw it as a creation space.

Well, as you have probably already guessed, I was compelled to turn this into an #EduGIF, so here it is.  After the GIF, I’ll share step-by-step instructions for making these.  By the way, I’d be honored if you used this GIF and these instructions with your own students in class.  You can repay me by showing me some of their creations!

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Keyboard Shortcuts for Bullets & Numbering

Sometimes, I think a trick, hack or shortcut that I do with technology is unimpressive and something that everyone either knows or doesn’t care about.  But then, when I mention it to someone, and they’re like “Whoa!” I think “Welp, this should be an EduGIF.”

Recently, I had the good fortune to be recording a guest appearance on the Shukes & Giff Podcast (er, maybe it’s the Shukes & Jake Podcast, now!? Kidding!).  When I was chatting about Emoji Bullets with Kim Pollishuke (a.k.a. “Shukes”), I mentioned, “So, I’ll just click Shift+Command+8 and then…” and she said “Wait, What!?”  And then I knew it, EduGIF time.  So here it is . . .

in most Google Tools:

  • Click CTRL (Command on Mac) + Shift + 7 for Numbering
  • Click it again to undo numbering
  • Click CTRL (Command on Mac) + Shift + 8 for Bullets
  • Click it again to undo bullets

Here’s the EduGIF!

Shortcuts for Bullets and Numbering GIF

Google Drawings in Google Classroom

A few weeks ago, I shared a post about putting Drawings in Google Docs that are assigned in Google Classroom. After seeing some of the reactions, I realized that some educators either weren’t aware of the powers of Google Drawings or had never thought of using them in assignments with Google Classroom.  I was all “whaaaaat!?”  So, now I’m here to dial it back a notch…  Let’s talk about assigning Google Drawings (not Drawings in Docs, just Drawings) in Google Classroom.  First up: an animated GIF for your viewing pleasure; and then: a quick step-by-step of how to use Drawings in Classroom.

Google Drawings in Classroom Animation

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Insert Drawings into Docs Being Assigned in Classroom

When given the chance, I’m always going to pick an assignment where students are creating their own representations of their mastery of learning standards.  However, I know that it’s not realistic to expect this all the time.  So, I can see the value in annotating images rather than just typing.  Google Drawings and Google Slides are great platforms for this . . . but what if it’s part of a bigger activity that does involve typing?  Well, insert a drawing into a document, put the picture in, and tell the students to annotate it!  Check it out in the animated GIF below (typed instructions follow the GIF).

Drawings in Docs with Google Classroom Animation

  1. In the Google Docs menu, click Insert > Drawing.
  2. In the Drawing that pops up, copy and paste in an image (or drag it in from a separate tab as I did in the GIF).
  3. Add instructions within the Drawing as needed.
  4. Click Save and Close to finish preparing the drawing.
  5. Assign the document in Google Classroom as Make a Copy for Each Student.
  6. When students open the document, instruct them to double-click on the image that they see to open up the drawing and annotate it.

Pre-Format Student Answers

Grading stinks.  Anything that we can do to make it better–without sacrificing the quality of the pedagogy or feedback–is worth doing!  Here’s a little trick to make it easier to locate student answers in Google Docs (or other files) that you assign in Google Classroom . . .

Pre-Format Classroom Answers Animation

Saving Images from Google Docs

When edtech rockstar Matt Miller says “Hey Jake, you should make this into an #EduGIF!” you listen.  He was right, too.  It was an awesome tip.

It was a pickle that I had been in before, but I had never known the solution.  You’re preparing something–a lesson, a blog post, whatever–and you need a picture.  Not just any picture, but a picture that you’ve used before.  It’s in that one Google Doc, but you can’t get to the picture from anywhere else.  So, you right-click on it in that Google Doc . . . but there’s no Save Image option.

There are a handful of ways that you can get that image saved as a file on your computer, but the one that Matt sent to me is pretty awesome.  It’s just a few steps and super easy.  And it’s even more convenient if you have multiple images that you need from the same Google Doc.  So, let’s get to it – first an animated #EduGIF and then the steps for those of you who like to read words.

Save Images from Docs Animation

  1. Open the Google Doc
  2. Select File > Download As > Web Page (.html, zipped)
  3. Locate the saved file on your computer
  4. Unzip the file (on my Mac, all that I have to do is double-click)
  5. A new folder should have been created. Inside of that folder will be all of the images that are in that Google Doc.  Feel free to move your image out of there and delete the other files as well as the zipped file.