Live stream Google Meet events via YouTube

Nowadays we have plenty of good ways to livestream events—

including Streamyard and built-in solutions on multiple tools, but I wanted to share this one with you because I think it may be handy for school events.

If it’s enabled by your admin, Google users can now livestream Google meetings publicly via YouTube.

This provides an easy way to get your holiday choir concert or your Board meeting on YouTube. Just please don’t make me watch the board meeting, kay? Anyhow, within Google Meet on a computer, you can click the 3 dots, then Manage Streaming. On phones, just go to the Activities panel and select Live Streaming. You can then give the livestream a title, set its privacy and the caption language and start the stream.

Easy peasy!

[More info: https://workspaceupdates.googleblog.com/2022/07/live-stream-google-meet-events-via-youtube.html ]

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Google Workspace Updates

Gmail has been the most widely used email client for some time, but it’s been missing some features…

One thing that I’ve long wished it had was the ability to create newsletter-like emails. Another is the ability to send 1 email to many people, but to have it appear to each one as an individual email. Of course, there are workarounds for both of these things: formatting the email elsewhere and bringing it into gmail… using mail merges to send 1 email to many people… using BCC… but now, you can do some of that stuff natively in gmail. 

They’ve added new marketing tools. 

First off, you can now access a variety of templates that include buttons, images, and text elements. Then, you can customize and personalize those layouts with new colors, images, and more. So, that covers that first issue I was talking about.  Fancy formatted emails built right in gmail. 

The other update is the ability to multi-send emails.

Now, no need to send a BCC to all recipients! By using Multi-Send mode, each recipient gets a separate copy of the email AND it includes an unsubscribe link. These are both great news.  The not-so-great news is the availability. Google Workspace for Education Standard and Plus users HAVE these features, while Education Fundamentals and Teaching & Learning Upgrade users do NOT have these features.

Once again though, I’m puzzled by this availability. Education Fundamentals is the free version, so I get why those accounts don’t have it.

Education Standard and Plus accounts are pretty pricy – $3 per student per year for Standard, and $5 per student per year for Plus. So I get why they DO get this feature. What I don’t like though: why don’t Education Teaching & Learning accounts get these features? They are per-staff member accounts that cost $4 per staff member per month. At $48 a year, why would they not get this feature? I know that’s less money than paying $3 of $5 per student per year… but it sure would be nice to give that feature to those Teaching and Learning Upgrade teachers.

A few months after rolling out the Multi-Send feature, Google then kicked it up a notch with personalization Merge tags.

In big email service providers like MailChimp, Constant Contact, BirdSend, and others you can add merge tags to fill in peoples’ first names in your greetings and such.  Now you can do that in the Gmail multi-send option IF you are on Google Workspace for Education Plus. So, Education Fundamentals and Education Teaching and Learning Upgrade teachers, you can’t send multi-send emails, so this is no surprise. Education Standard users, though, you can send multi-send emails, but you cannot add this personalization is.

Those of you on Plus, you can now add @firstname, @lastname, @fullname, and @email into your multi-send emails so they look a little less like they were part of a multi-send campaign. You’ll also be able to have a preview email sent to you to make sure the tags are functioning correctly. To fill in those it’ll use the information from in your Google contacts to determine what to fill in there, so you may want to double-check what you’ve got in there.

Here’s a weird part – if you don’t have the recipients in your contacts or if you just don’t have their first name and last name filled in, Gmail will try to guess what to put in there! For the most part, this should work, because gmail will know the info for other gmail addresses. But can you imagine emailing JakeMillerTech@gmail.com and having it guess my last name was Tech or my first name was Jack? Embarrassing.

So, make sure you have accurate contacts for any multi-send recipients if you plan to use this new feature. Just head to contacts.google.com to do that. 

And, a reminder, while Plus and Standard users can send multi-send emails, only Plus emails can use these merge tags.

[Image(s) Source: https://workspaceupdates.googleblog.com/2022/07/new-integrated-marketing-tools-for-gmail.html ]

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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!

[Image Source: https://workspaceupdates.googleblog.com/2022/06/new-font-options-google-forms.html] Continue reading Formatting Improvements in Google Forms!

Google is letting us go pageless in Google Docs…

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

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!

Continue reading Google is letting us go pageless in Google Docs…

Adding Audio to Play on a Set of Google Slides

Not long ago, Google finally added the functionality of adding audio to Google Slides for all users.  And, not long thereafter, we started asking for improvements! 😬  Hey, it’s what we do! 😃

In this post, I’m going to share with you a hack to get the most asked for improvement.  It’s not an elegant hack (that’s an oxymoron, I think) but it’ll do until Google adds the actual functionality.

When you add audio, the main choice that you’ll have to make is
– “Do I want this to stop playing when I advance to the next slide…
– or do I want it to continue until the audio ends…
– or do I want it to loop until the end of the slideshow?”
Unfortunately, there’s no option to have it play on Slides 1, 2, 3 and 4 and then stop on Slide 5.

But what if that’s what we want?  In this post, I’ll show you a hack to set your audio to play for a subset of slides, but not for others.

My first idea for a hack was adding a different piece of audio on Slide 5, but that just leads to both audio files playing simultaneously.  Back to the drawing board.

My second idea worked.  So, here it is…  #EduGIF first, step-by-step instructions next.

This animation shows how to add audio for only a subset of the slides in a Google Slides file. The steps are typed out below the image.

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4 Tips for Assessing Growth in Student Writing in Google Docs

It’s safe to say that most educators agree that feedback should be given to students not just at the end of an assignment, but also during.  Many educators would even say that the “during” feedback is more important, especially in writing.  But, how do we do that efficiently?  Reading & assessing student work twice takes up lots of time.

Well, I have 4 tips that I think can help.

By comparing a rough draft (or earlier draft) to the final draft (or most current draft), the teacher can assess the changes being made and decide if additional changes are necessary.  It’s also a great way for teachers to see what areas for improvement students are and are not catching.

Google Docs offers some great functions for doing this.  In this post, I’ll share 3 tips with you to help with this process.

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Graphic Design Tools in Google Slides: Align, Distribute & Center

On the Google Teacher Tribe podcast (one of my favorite podcasts) Kasey Bell & Matt Miller often refer to Google Slides as the “Swiss Army Knife of gSuite.”  And I agree!  There are so many things that you can do in Google Slides.  In this post, I’m going to show you 3 super useful Graphic Design tools that are available in Slides.

Align – When you select 2+ objects (images, shapes, text boxes, etc.) you can align them horizontally (left, right or center) or vertically (top, bottom or center) with each other!

Distribute – When you select 3+ objects (images, shapes, text boxes, etc.) you can distribute them horizontally or vertically in relation to each other.  This spaces the objects out evenly.  It’s important to note that it’s based off of the positions of the leftmost and rightmost objects.  So, get your left and right objects into place and then use this tool to distribute everything else out evenly in between.

Center on Page – This tool does exactly what you’d expect it to, but with one nice bonus – if you have multiple objects selected it will center them as a group.  So, the objects themselves may not be in the center of the slide, but they will be arranged with the center of the group at the center of the slide.

A note for the Google Drawings fans out there: each of these items are also available there and work in the same manner.

Check out the EduGIF of these 3 tools in action below and, if it moves too fast, check out the Pausable EduGIF here.

Align, Distribute & Center in Slides Animation

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!

Continue reading Making Silhouettes in Google Slides

Quickly Assigning Due Dates for Google Tasks in Google Calendar

***In order for this process to work, you have to make sure the Tasks checkbox on the left is checked.***

Not too long ago, us Google-fans celebrated the arrival of the sidebar that we see alongside most gSuite apps.  That sidebar, which features access to Google Calendar, Keep & Tasks, made things much more convenient for users.  But, one thing that wasn’t convenient was how we assigned due dates & times to items in Google Tasks.  click.  click.  click.  click.  click.  Count ’em… 5 clicks for each task!

And this frustrated me, because I had just recently adopted Google Tasks as my to-do list management strategy.  I love how I can see them across all of my devices.  But, what to do about all of those clicks?  Well, I’ve got ya…

Open up the Tasks sidebar while in Google Calendar and navigate to the date and/or time that you want a task to be due on.  Then, just drag the task onto the date and/or time that you’d like to it to be due and… BAM! How many clicks was that?  1 click.  1 drag.  Done.

Assign Dates to Tasks in Calendar Animation

BTW – don’t see tasks?  I’ve seen 2 possible reasons for that.  Here they are:
1. You have Reminders enabled instead of Tasks.  Click the small menu to the right of Reminders (should be in the LEFT sidebar) and then choose Switch to Tasks.
2. You have multiple Google Accounts logged in within the same Chrome window.  Check this post from Kasey Bell or this post from Eric Curts to resolve that.

A Google Slides Hack to Replace ChatterPix or Blabberize

This idea–a true moment of educational duct tape (using technology to solve a classroom problem or goal)–actually came to me while recording an episode of my Educational Duct Tape Podcast!

In Episode 5, I played a question that Linda Hummer shared to the Educational Duct Tape Community FlipGrid along with Abbey Thomas’ answer.  Linda’s question was, essentially, what is an alternative to Chatterpix that works on Chromebooks?  Abbey’s answer was Blabberize. And the question was answered!  Or, so I thought…

After the episode aired, Dan Gallagher shared on that same grid some words of caution: Blabberize’s Terms of Service indicate that it’s not appropriate for all ages.  So, in Episode 6, I shared this and then, on the spot, found a hack for a solution:

I’ve posted about #StopMotionSlides a number of times (here are my tips for making them) and they make a pretty good solution for this.  Put a picture into a slide, use some careful cropping and then leverage a stop motion technique.  Not only can you make the mouth move up and down, but you can then publish the animation (#13 in these tips) and then record them with Screencastify (or your screencasting tool of choice) with a voiceover (#14 in these tips)!

Voila!  Not as easy as Chatterpix, but at least it eliminates the need of adding another tool and another set of terms of service to what you use with your students: you likely already use Google Slides & Screencastify!

Plus, unlike ChatterPix or Blabberize, you can have multiple characters, your characters can move, the scene change…  You–and your students–can get super creative!

Here’s an animated GIF of the process, followed by a step-by-step breakdown.

Google Slides ChatterPix Blabberize Hack Animation

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