Force Make a Copy

Thou shalt make a copy. – Jake Miller

Ok, so, I never said that.  Well, actually, I guess I just did.  Anyhow, it’s a trick that’s known in most edtech circles, but it’s useful enough to make sure that everyone knows it:

Change the “/edit” or “/view” (or whatever) at the end of a Google Apps file’s URL to “/copy” and it will force the person clicking the link to make a copy of it (as if they had clicked File > Make a Copy).

Important: make sure the doc is shared, at least as “Can View,” prior to using this.  You can’t copy a doc that you can’t view!

With the rise of Google Classroom and other LMS options, it’s not as useful as it used to be, but it has its use cases: sharing a resource on your website, posting forms for use in your school district, sharing optional activities for classes or clubs and much more.  It works in Drawings, Sheets and Slides as well! Here’s how to do it:

Force Make a Copy Animation

Just in case, here are those steps:

  1. Share the doc as “Anyone with the Link Can View.”
  2. Copy the link to the doc.
  3. Change the “/edit” or “/view” or “/edit?usp=sharing” to “/copy

Clear your Cache & Cookies

It’s important that you clear your browsers cache and cookies regularly.  Doing it daily isn’t necessary, but doing it monthly (or even more regularly) would be wise.

In layman’s terms, cache and cookies are like little pieces of the websites that you visit.  In the short term, they help you load that site faster when you visit it next.  In the long term, however, as the sites change, the cache & cookies start clogging up processes (often because they are no longer part of the sites that you visit).  Clearing them will help your browser run more smoothly!

Here’s how to do it in Google Chrome:

Clear Cookies and Cache Animation

Note: it was really hard to make it through this post without using a lame pun with the words cache or cookie.   In fact, I think that my self-restraint earned me a cookie…. oops.

Diagram Labeling Activities in Google Drawings

Google Drawings is a great place for quick, simple, visual activities.  Add shapes to a diagram, tell students to double-click in those shapes and – voila – they’re text boxes!

Tips:

  • before sending them out to your kiddos, click into those shapes and format the text size so it’ll fit in the boxes.
  • Once you’ve made one box the way you like it, use command+d (ctrl+d on non-Mac) to duplicate it.
  • If this isn’t being used in Google Classroom, make it anyone with the link can view, copy the link, change the “edit” to “copy” and send it out.

Google Drawings - Fill in the blank Animation

 

 

Create Materials for Print with Custom Dimensions in Google Slides

Need a flyer? A sign? A visually appealing handout?

Google Docs is a great word processor, but it can be hard to get images, text and word art laid out in just the right way. Tools like LucidPress are great for this, but they have a learning curve. For most educators and students, Google Slides is perfect for this – we know how to add & resize pictures and text as well as how to move them around on the screen.

So, why not use Google Slides for creating Printed Materials?  Go to File > Page Setup and give your slides the dimensions of your piece of paper.  Bam.

Custom Dimensions in Slides Animation

FormRanger Add-On

I love me some Add-Ons. One of my favorites is FormRanger from New Visions Cloud Lab. It can be used to pull in a column of information from a Google Sheet as multiple choice or dropdown options.

This is nice for quickly creating a lot of options for a multiple choice or dropdown question, but what takes it from nice to awesome is  . . . you can set it to automatically update based on changes made to the spreadsheet. Whaaaaat!?  I know, right?

There are two main cases for use: Continue reading FormRanger Add-On

Print Speaker Notes in Google Slides

We all know from experience, as well as the infamously-hysterical and on-point “Death by PowerPoint,” that slideshows should involve minimal text.  But, for many people, this is where cognitive dissonance enters.  They believe this to be true, but need somewhere to plan what they will say.

Well, Google Slides has a spot for “Speaker Notes,” and here’s how you print them to have ready during your next presentation:

Print Slides Speaker Notes Animation

Password Protected Google Forms

First off – I can’t take credit for this idea – just the GIF below.  I’ve heard it mentioned most recently on the Google Teacher Tribe podcast where the idea was credited to Jeremy Badiner.

Second – In a Twitter discussion with Molly MacKinlay from Google (I love Twitter!), she pointed out that there’s an easier way to do this.  I still think that there are valid uses of the password-protecting strategy, but when appropriate, her way is certainly easier.  I’ll get to this later in the post, right under the GIF… 

There are a lot of uses to password-protecting Forms, but here are the 4 main ones that I can see:

  1. Post a Google Form (i.e., an assessment) to your LMS early, but students won’t be able to access the questions until you give them the password or until they complete a preliminary activity that releases the password to them.
  2. Set this form as part of a BreakOutEDU style activity – participants can only access the form once they’ve found the password in the previous stage.
  3. Make it so only your intended audience can fill out a form. (i.e., 1st period class, but not 2nd period class)
  4. Keep sensitive information within the form, just like a password-protected website.

One important note: setting “error text” is essential – otherwise it will tell the user the password.

Password Protected Forms Animation

The other way of doing this:

In my aforementioned conversation with Molly, a product manager with Google For Education, she reminded me of the ability to turn off “Accepting Responses.” If you want all of your students to have access to this Form at the same time, this is definitely the preferred way to go about it.  Leave it off until the quiz starts, then turn it on, then turn it off when the quiz ends.  Easy-Peasy.  The exceptions start with anytime that you want differentiated access: i.e., students can’t start a quiz until completing a certain activity, only students from a certain class should be able to access a form, etc.  And they continue with specialized applications of Google Forms: Digital BreakOuts and more. So, choose based on your need.  If you’re just keeping a form closed until test time, use the “accepting responses button.”  If you’re differentiating access in some way, use password-protecting.

More Notes

Ah, the power of the Twitter PLN.  Both of the following notes came to me through discussions with people on Twitter.

  • @HaleEdTech pointed out that the user (i.e., student) can discover the password using Inspect Element or View Page Source (both are in the right-click menu).  If you intend to use this regularly, you may want to 1) turn off Inspect element in the Google Admin Console and 2) block “view-source” in the URL blacklist in your Admin Console.  These will only prevent this in Chrome – there are likely other steps you’d need to take with Safari or Firefox.
  • @EfrenR shared with me that people should refrain from using the word “password” in this situation, as Google Forms directly states that they’ll “never ask for your password.”  He reported that they may even flag your Form for requesting user’s passwords. So, it may be wise to use something like “keyphrase” or “Form Code” instead.

The Draftback Extension

One of the earliest edtech tools that I recommended to the teachers involved in the Writing Ourselves project, which I am the Technology Director for, was the DraftBack Extension.  Once enabled, the extension allows you to playback your writing process for any doc that you are an editor on.  Obviously, the best use case for this would be to have students do this.

What a powerful way for students to reflect on their writing process and for educators to assess (and offer feedback on) the way that they go about the writing craft.  Awesome sauce.

Draftback animation

Jump to a Page in a PDF

If you’re like me, scrolling through a really long .pdf hoping to find the right page drives you bonkers.  Did you know that, when looking at a .pdf in Google Chrome, you can jump directly to a page number?

Note: This is based on the number of pages in the document and occasionally the publisher of the PDF didn’t count the cover page and other initial pages in their numbering.  So, typing in page 10, might actually land you on page 9 because the cover page didn’t count.  But, hey, at least you only have to scroll one more page!

Creating a Restricted Access Group in the Google Admin Console

Let me start with this . . . I think the best thing that we can do for children in regards to the dangerous, disruptive and distorted content on the internet is to teach them to identify and avoid it.  However, some students have difficulties with this and during intermediary times while helping them to develop better/safer online habits, an alternative support may be necessary.

One option is to use a separate Google Admin Organizational Unit (OU) that is has restricted internet access.  In it, you can block all online content except for content that that you and your educators have identified as being a part of students’ learning experience.  (The last thing that you would want to do is limit or prohibit their learning)

To do this:

  1. Login to the Google Admin Console
  2. Go to Device Management > Chrome Management > User Settings
  3. Select the appropriate OU (Organizational Unit)
  4. Scroll down to the URL Blocking Section
  5. In the URL Blacklist section enter only a *.  This blocks ALL internet content.
  6. In the URL Blacklist Exception section, list every site that you do want your students to have access to.  Keep in mind that an address like khanacademy.org will unblock anything starting with khanacademy.org, including things like khanacademy.org/math.

A few tips:

  • When placing students into this group, you may need to move them in Active Directory in order for them to stay in the Google Admin Organizational Unit.  It all depends on your setup.
  • Maintain a Google Doc that teachers can access to see what sites are unblocked.  That way, they can double-check their sites that they intend to use . . . and send you additions.
  • Consider using an instructional piece about appropriate internet use to help students learn to make better choices so that they can be moved out of this group after an appropriate amount of time.

Again, this is not a perfect solution, but different students need different supports and scaffolds as we prepare them for their futures in our technology-obsessed society.

Note: These limitations will only be apply 1) in Chrome, 2) with the student logged into Chrome.