A Dashboard of Activity in Google Docs, Sheets, & Slides

Activity Dashboard icon

When working in a collaborative environment it can be helpful to know who and how many users are taking advantage of the resources you have shared. Google provides various tools with this in mind, from the Details tool in Drive to Version History inside of any Google Doc, Sheet, or Slide file. Now there is a new player joining the team called Activity Dashboard.


Activity Dashboard menu option

How it works

  1. Open any Google Doc, Sheet, or Slide.
  2. Locate the Tools menu option.
  3. From the drop-down list, choose Activity Dashboard.

View time

  • In the first of three panels, the View time panel lets you see who the file has been shared with and when they last accessed it.
  • Click on the Last viewed column header to adjust the sorting of users.
  • Think of this as a way to see how many students have chosen to take advantage of a resource you’ve shared with them.
Activity Dashboard's View time window
  • If you would like to contact select users and send a follow-up email, then you can do this directly from within the Activity Dashboard.
Activity Dashboard's Email follow-up window

Viewer trend

  • In the second panel, Viewer trend lets you see access activity over time.
  • Use the drop-down menu in the top-right corner to adjust the time frame, or use the line graph across the top to set a custom time frame.
  • Think of this as a way to track how often students have chosen to use a resource you’ve shared with them. Did they access the resource only when you first introduced it? Did they access it right before an assessment? Have they been using the resource throughout the unit of study?
Activity Dashboard Viewer trend window

Privacy settings

  • In the third panel, use Privacy settings to control access to the Activity Dashboard for all Docs, Sheets, and Slides files or for this specific file.
Activity Dashboard Privacy settings window
  • The details on the Activity Dashboard are only accessible to users who have “Edit” permissions to the Doc/Sheet/Slide file.
Activity Dashboard access denied message

For more information on the Activity Dashboard please refer this post on the G Suite Updates Blog.

Create “.new” Docs, Sheets, Slides, & More!

The New button inside of Google DriveIn a recent episode of the Google Teacher Tribe Podcast, co-host Matt Miller shared a new, interesting, and quick way to create “new” files in various Google Drive apps like Docs, Sheets, and Slides.


How it works

With the entry of new domain name types into the World Wide Web playground (to add to veterans like .com, .net, and .edu), Google took advantage of the .new domain and acquired several of them to match its suite of Google Drive apps. So for example, if you type into your browser’s address bar docs.new then you will instantaneously get a new blank Google Docs file. The same is true if you swap out the keyword “docs” and replace it with sheets, slides, forms, and even sites. Once you give the file a name, then it will automatically save into the main directory of your Google Drive app.


If you want to stay traditional then you can certainly still go to Google Drive and create a new file of your choice from the NEW button located in the top-left corner. And, if you want to access the template gallery you can go to each file types Google Slides Template Galleryrespective website:

But, now we have one more way to quickly create new blank files in many of the native Google Drive apps thanks to the new “.new” domain type.

EquatIO Free for Teachers: You Do The Math

EquatIO is a powerful math tool that allows users to create equations, formulas, and graphs, then add them to various applications including GSuite for Education and Microsoft Word. Within GSuite for Education, EquatIO is compatible with Google Docs, Sheets, Drawings, and Forms. And just last week Texthelp, the company behind this and Read&Write, announced that it was making EquatIO FREE for teachers!

 

EquatIO toolbar screenshot with speech tool


To take advantage of this opportunity, follow this link to their blog post which will explain the process. But, in a nutshell, this is what you need to do:

  1. Navigate to their website and download/install the EquatIO program for your device. Use this link, then click on the green Try now, for free button and choose your platform.
  2. At some point you will be prompted to enter your email address to complete the setup/install. It’s important to remember this email as you will need it later to turn on access to the premium features.EquatIO toolbar menu
  3. Once setup is complete, use this link to access the registration form and request a free premium account license. It may take up to 24 hours for your account to be updated.
  4. To verify your upgrade, open any supported application file (i.e. Microsoft Word or Google Docs) and turn on EquatIO. From the menu bar at the bottom of your window click on the EquatIO logo to access a pop-up menu, then click on Options. Under the Premium menu, you should see that your license is now listed as a premium one.

EquatIO Options window

Image Insert Tool Updated for Docs, Slides, & Drawings

Screenshot of new insert image menu optionAdding an image to a document, presentation, or drawing can do wonders to enhance the overall product. In a recent update, Google has redesigned the Insert > Image tool and integrated it into their right-hand sidebar interface, bringing it inline with other recently updated tools like Explore and Define. This new interface also better supports the drag-&-drop workflow.

Screenshot of insert > image by search the web option


image thumbnail with preview image option displayedWhen inserting an image using the “Search the web” option, at first look the side panel does not contain text explaining what kind of usage rights the results will be filtered under. As a teacher of digital citizenship and wanting students to realize the importance, especially with images, of respecting the rights of the original author, the loss of this filtering option is a disappointment. However, If you hover over an image in the side panel a magnifying glass icon will become visible in the bottom-right corner, which you can use to preview the image. It is in this preview pane that the usage rights filter text can be found, reminding us that the search results are indeed being filtered under the usage rights: labeled for commercial use with modification.

image preview with usage rights filter setting text


Another issue that has already cropped up on social media is the noticeable absence of the “Take a snapshot” option from the new Insert > Image menu. If you miss this option as much as I do, then I strongly encourage you to send Google feedback and let them know. In the meantime, check out this blog post for Eric Curts who has come up with an alternative to tide us over in the interim.

For more information about the new Insert > Image tool, please check out the G Suite Updates blog.

 

 

Adding Shared Items to Google Classroom Error

ADD button in gClassroomOne of the many features found inside of Google Classroom is the ability for students to ‘ADD’ additional artifacts to an assignment. This is a valuable tool as it allows students to demonstrate their understanding and ability to meet the standard(s) using a wide variety of tools and then attach the artifacts to the assignment. This option is so important that the first assignment I give to my students is to practice using this tool by ADDING a screenshot of their favorite Chromebook app.

The effectiveness of this tool came into question recently when a student attempted to ADD a Google Doc that was shared with their partner. The student who created the gDoc, (i.e. the owner) was able to successfully ADD the shared file to the Classroom assignment. However, not only was their partner (i.e. with ‘Can edit’ access) unable to ADD the shared file but could not even find the gDoc, even though they confirmed that the file was in their Google Drive.

What the Google is going on?

Thanks to some ingenious troubleshooting by a pair of 6th grade students, we discovered that a student may only ADD a file to an assignment in Classroom if they are the owner of that file. So, this is what the girls did:

  1. Student A, who created the gDoc, navigated to Google Classroom and used the ADD tool to attach the file to the assignment.
  2. She then went to the gDoc in Drive and used the Share tool to transfer ownership of the file to her partner, student B.
  3. Student B, now the owner of the gDoc, navigated to Google Classroom and used the ADD tool to attach the file to the assignment.

Screen_Shot_2017-05-02_at_11_09_24_PM

Now, some may say that this is only a minor inconvenient issue. However, not knowing why both project partners cannot attach a shared file to an assignment has caused frustration for several of my students. Plus, I can’t help but brag just a little bit for the two students whose independent troubleshooting solved this mystery for us.

Embed Videos w/Google Drawings

Embedding videos inside of Google products has sometimes been an absolute bear to achieve. For example, if you wanted to embed or ‘Insert’ a video into a Google Slides presentation then the video had to be accessible via YouTube. However, if you give Google some time and engage in that age-old practice of patience then things can change, like how now you can embed video files into a slide from Google Drive. Here’s the thing, if you can do this then you can embed a video into a Google Doc.

Screen_Shot_2017-05-02_at_2_20_47_PM

I know, I know, there is not Insert -> Video… option inside of Google Docs. But, there is the option to insert a Google Drawing and this is your “IN”. Thanks to Joli Boucher over at Flipped Tech Coaching, here is a video that will walk you through the process.

This work around has great potential for those who are getting into creating HyperDocs and now HyperDrawings. It allows teachers and students to interact with different types of media without having to jump between tabs or windows. That is, until Google gets around to adding the Insert -> Video… option into Google Docs.

~”If you send them feedback, they might just make it happen.”

Quickly Copy Formatting Settings

paint-format-iconHave you noticed this icon while working inside of a Google Doc? How about a Google Slides project? Google Drawings? Do you have any idea what it does? In fact, it can be a powerful tool that allows the user to customize the format of a piece of text then quickly apply it at various points throughout the artifact.

To use the Paint Format tool:

  1. Format a piece of text/cell with the size, style, or color into the desired appearance.
  2. Highlight the text/cell, then activate the Paint format tool.
  3. To apply the format to a single word, simply double+click on the word. To apply the format to a series of words, a sentence, a paragraph, etc. then click-&-drag your cursor over the desired text.
  4. To quickly apply the format to multiple places throughout your artifact, double+click on the Paint format tool to lock it into the ‘ON’ position. When done, click on the Paint format tool again to turn it off.

To see the Paint format tool in action please refer to the video below from BetterCloud Monitor.