Google Drive Offline: New Features

In a previous post I talked about how to setup offline access to your files inside of Google Drive. Now Google has added several features to make offline access clearer and give users more control over what files they will have access to offline.

Offline Preview

Once enabled, Google Drive offline will make certain files available for access even when you are offline. But, it will not make ALL of your files available offline. To see which files/folders are currently available offline:

  1. Move your cursor to the top-right corner of the Google Drive window and find a checkmark icon labeled, Ready for offline.
  2. Click the checkmark icon to reveal a drop-down menu with the option to toggle Offline preview on/off.
  3. When ON, icons that are grayed out are NOT currently available offline. Remember that only recently accessed Docs, Sheets, and Slides files will be made available offline by default.
Google Drive Offline preview menu

Manually mark files available offline


If you would like to permanently make a file available offline, you can do so by right+clicking on any Google Doc, Sheet, or Slides file. From the context menu select the toggle switch next to Available offline. Once enabled, a checkmark icon will appear to the right of the filename denoting that this file will always be available offline.

For more information, please refer to this post on the G Suite Updates blog.

Podcasting Comes to WeVideo

Export Audio only option from the FINISH tab.

Last week WeVideo announced that they will now provide users with the ability to export audio-only projects, essentially allowing students to create their own digital radio shows or “podcasts.”

(NOTE: This option is not available under the “free version” of WeVideo, but is included with any WeVideo plan.)

Why is it important?

Giving student the choice to create movies to demonstrate their understanding provides for so much potential, creativity, and fun, but at the same time can eat up a lot of class time to allow them to produce a quality product. Creating a podcast can be done in less time because there are no visuals to worry about, and at the same time because there are no visuals students need to pay more attention to the quality of their content to ensure it communicates their knowledge and comprehension of the material.

How it works

  1. When a project is ready to be rendered, click the FINISH menu option at the top of the WeVideo editor.
  2. On the FINISH page, next to “Export” you will now see two options: Video with audio and Audio only. Audio only will export the project as a .mp3 file.
  3. You can export prior projects that contain visual components as audio only files. This could be an interesting test to see how well the audio components alone work to support the project’s message, or show how powerful using appropriate visuals can be to the telling of a story.

For more information, please refer to this post from the WeVideo Blog.

WeVideo Welcomes Google Docs, Sheets & Slides

WeVideo side panel showing the LINK A RESOURCE button and one linked Google Doc thumbnail.

Earlier this month WeVideo announced that they are providing integration with Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. What does this mean?

  • Users can link these files from their Google Drive to WeVideo projects.
  • Once the files are linked to a project, users can access them from both the Projects tab as well as directly inside the WeVideo editor. These Google files can be edited directly from within the WeVideo interface and the changes are automatically saved back to Google Drive.
  • WeVideo will respect the privacy settings set in Google Drive, so if a project member does not have access to the file in Google Drive then they will not have access in WeVideo either. Project members can request access to a file from within the WeVideo interface.

  • For more information, please check out this post from the WeVideo Blog.
  • Get detailed step-by-step directions on how to setup Linked Resources from Google Drive by referring to this WeVideo Support Article.

CSM Digital Citizenship Curriculum Revamp: Grades 3-8

Starting back in the fall of 2018, Common Sense Media began to revamp their K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum to better match the topics, issues, and challenges that students, teachers, and parents are facing in this ever-changing digital world. The new curriculum, revised up to grade 8, can be sorted by grade level or by one of six topic categories, down from the original eight.

There are a lot of things that I like about the revised curriculum:

  • Overview: A really nice summary and “snapshot” of the lesson with learning targets, major activity components, and a list of “what you’ll need” to carry out the lesson.
  • Lesson plan accessibility: Lesson plans can now be investigated in full right on the website. Step-by-step directions, time frames, and links to resources are all included. A full list of the resources that are included is clearly displayed on the right as is a button to download a printable version of the lesson.
  • Google Drive integration: Each lesson comes with a slide deck, teacher and student versions of activities, and a student assessment that are already formatted for Google Slides, Docs, and Forms respectfully. This makes integration with Google Drive and Classroom so much more seamless. If you’re not a GSuite for Education user, then you can still download the files as their Microsoft equivalent, a PDF or several other options.
Google Docs "Download as" options menu

Common Sense Media continues to work on updating the curriculum, specifically for grades 9-12, so stay tuned for more news on this! And don’t forget to take note of the Creative Commons licensing for each of their lesson plan components.

Google Classroom Update: Classwork on the Stream

Class settings icon inside of a Google Classroom class

In an attempt to give teachers more control over how the Stream tab displays content, Google has added an additional option under the Class settings tool called Classwork on the stream.

How does it work?

  1. Select a class card from the Classes homescreen of Google Classroom.
  2. Click on the Class settings gear icon in the top-right corner of a class.
  3. Scan down to the General section to locate the Classwork on the stream setting.
Classwork on the stream option under Class settings in Google Classroom

Show attachments and details: This will show the full text the teacher has added to the Instructions section and any attachments added to the Classwork post. If the post is an assignment, then students will also see the status of the assignment (Assigned, Turned In, Graded, Returned, and Missing) in the top-right corner.

Show attachments and details display example from the Classwork on the stream setting

Show condensed notifications: This is the standard view that was established with the changes made to Classroom back in the fall.

Show condensed notifications display example from the Classwork on the stream setting

Hide notifications: This option will remove all Classwork posts from the Stream tab. Posts that the teacher creates from the Stream tab will still be visible. Class comments made by students will also remain visible if the teacher has enabled this option.

For more information on the new Classwork on the stream setting, please refer to this page from the Classroom Help site.

Safer Internet Day – Security Checkup

Internet Safer Day was last week on Tuesday, February 5th. To celebrate, Google spent the entire week covering a variety of topics relating to being safe online (you can check out their series of articles here). For users who have Google accounts, one thing that you can and should do on a regular basis is perform a Security Checkup on all of your Google accounts.

Google Security Checkup homepage

Google’s Security Checkup is a three-step process where you will be asked to check on three important areas of your account safety:

Options menu for each app, site, and service that has access to your account info.
  • Third-party access: This is the list of sites, apps, and services that have access to some of the personal information found in your account. Sources that you haven’t used in a while may no longer need access and can be removed, and if you see an entry you don’t recognize or don’t remember giving permission to access your account should most definitely have their access revoked.
  • Your devices: This is the list of all of the devices that have been used to login to your Google account. If you don’t recognize a device, then it might be a good idea to remove the device from the list and then consider changing your password. (Click here to see how to use Gmail to force a sign-out of all of your active web sessions.)
  • Recent security events: This drop-down list will show any recent requests to connect to your account. Again, if you don’t recognize a request then your account may be at risk.
Google Security Checkup - recent security events list

It is a good idea to perform a Security Checkup on your Google account about once a month, and if you have more than one account (e.g. a professional account for work and a personal account) then don’t forget to run the Security Checkup on each one. For other web accounts, it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the security options that they provide:

Google Classroom Update: Is This the End of the ‘About’ Tool?

Google Classroom About section text link

When Google Classroom took the stage, one of the primary tabs present in each class was the ‘About’ tab. Here teachers could enter the class name, description, location, and upload resources that they wanted students to have access to throughout their enrollment in the class. This past summer Google Classroom received a major update that demoted the ‘About’ tab to a link on the Classroom banner of the Stream tab, but it still served a purpose and was linked to the new Class Settings tool. With the latest changes to Google Classroom being rolled out, the ‘About’ tool has been changed yet again.

In the latest version of Classroom, the Class Settings tool is still available and includes a place to add a class description that can include resource links.

Classroom Class Settings/Details window.
Class Settings Info – Teacher view

For students, this information is now accessible from a drop-down drawer underneath the Classroom banner on the Stream tab. Unfortunately the text formatting has been removed and any resource links are displayed in plain text.

Classroom drop-down drawer with Class Settings info. displayed.
Class Settings Info – Student view

Maybe I’m being too nostalgic in wanting the ‘About’ tool to continue to act as a place to store resources for students. Perhaps I need to make piece with this and make the transition to using the Materials post option in the Classwork tab. If this is the case then so be it, and I will bid a final fond farewell to the ‘About’ tool; you served teachers and students well.

Google Classroom Update: A Themes Expansion

gClassroom music theme banner

It has been a long time coming, and in the most recent update to Google Classroom the number of available themes has exploded to 78 possible choices!

  • The gallery has expanded from two categories to six.
  • Categories include English & History, Math & Science, Arts, Sports, and Other.
  • The primary color of the banner theme will dictate the color scheme for the tabs, post icons, and Topics menus.
  • Note that the class code is now available directly from the Classroom banner as is the option to display it in both large font and full screen.

Users still have the option to upload their own image to be their Classroom banner. Unfortunately the Upload photo option still does not support inserting an image from Google Photos (hint-hint Google).

For more information on this and other updates coming to Google Classroom, please check out Google’s The Keyword blog.

Google Classroom Update: Drag-&-Drop Finally Arrives!

Drag-&-Drop a Topic with assignments to a new location in Classroom

When Google introduced the new Classwork tab last fall, one of its new features was the ability to move individual assignment posts and Topics up or down the list. The downside of this was that you could only move an item up or down one space at a time. Last week Google announced that they were enhancing this organizational feature to include drag-&-drop support. No need to click on a specific icon or menu option, just click-&-hold on the item you wish to re-organize and drag it to its new location.

For more information on this and other updates coming to Google Classroom, please check out Google’s The Keyword blog.

Does Google Classroom’s “Gradebook” Make the Grade?

gClassroom Card with Gradebook beta con

A few weeks ago I shared that Google had released the beta version of their locked mode option for Google Forms with managed Chromebooks. At the same time, Google announced the beta version of a new Gradebook tool inside of Google Classroom. To request early access to the Gradebook tool, you can sign up using this form

The Interface

  • The new beta Gradebook can be accessed from any Google Classroom card that you are a teacher of by clicking on the upward-inching arrow to the left of the Google Drive folder shortcut. From inside a class, you will now see a Gradebook tab across the top as well.

  • Inside the Gradebook beta tool, you have access to all of your assignments that have been currently posted to the Classwork tab along the top row of the interface.
  • All of the assignment names are clickable and will take you to the details page when clicked.
  • Hovering over any assignment will display the three stacked dots to access the ability to Edit or Delete the assignment.
  • Additional information including due date (if provided) and point value (out of # or ungraded) can also be found here.
Classroom assignments row

  • Down the left-hand column will be your student roster and can be sorted by first or last name.
  • Clicking on a student’s name will take you directly to the YOUR WORK interface (click here for more on this tool).

  • At the center is the grade information for each student for each assignment.
  • Assignments set to Ungraded will be blank until students TURN IN the assignment, then will display a checkmark when you return it to them.
  • Assignments that have passed the due date and still have not been turned in will show the Missing status in red font.
Classroom Gradebook assignment grades & status info.
  • Hovering over any grade box will display the three stacked dots to access the ability to Return the assignment (assignments that have already been Returned will have the text grayed out).
  • Select the View submission option to go directly into the assignment details screen and view any artifacts assigned and/or added to the assignment by the student.
Classroom Gradebook stacked dots option for grades

Grade Calculations & Categories

Once the Gradebook option has been enabled, two additional options will be added to the Settings page in Classroom:

  • Grade Calculation: Allows you to choose a grading system that best fits your needs. Options include:
    • No overall grade calculation
    • Total points calculation
    • Percentage-based category weighting
  • You also have the option to make overall grades visible to students or not.
Classroom Settings Grade Calculations and Categories
  • Grade Categories: Assign categories and their desired weight/point value. Once created, these categories will show up when creating assignments from the Classwork tab as a drop-down menu option.
Classroom Gradebook Categories option from assignment details window

My Assessment

Because my school uses standards-based grading, much of the grade calculations and weighted categories do little benefit to my situation. Where I do find value in the Gradebook tool is having a big-picture overview of how each of my students are doing in my class by assignment and over time. I really like the ease with which I can scan for students who have missing work and who have been consistently turning in assignments late, as this affects their HOWL’s score for Responsibility.

For more information on the new Gradebook beta please check out the post on Google’s The Keyword blog. If you’d like to take the Gradebook beta tool for a test drive, then you can sign up using this form