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.

“Copy Formatting” Enhancements Come to Google Slides

Paint Format tool icon in Google Docs, Slides, SheetsIn a previous post, I talked about how users can use the Paint Format tool to quickly transfer format settings to other objects inside of a Google Doc. In addition, double-clicking on the Paint Format tool will lock it into the “on” position or what Google calls “persistent” mode. This allows the user to transfer the format settings to multiple objects throughout the document. While the Paint Format tool has been available in other Google Drive apps, the ability to lock the tool into persistent mode has been available in Google Docs exclusively…until now.

Google Slides now has access to the “persistent” mode option for the Paint Format tool, allowing users to quickly and easy apply a specific formatting design to multiple objects across multiple slides.

Animated GIF showing persistent mode of the Paint Format tool


For more information, please refer to Google’s post from their 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.

Google Tips & Tricks: Scrolling Banner in Sites

In the days of old, users could add text to their websites that would scroll across the screen, informing visitors of new and important information. Today, with the new Google Sites and their recent addition of the embed tool, users have the option again to add a scrolling banner to their websites…with a little help from Google Slides that is.

To see how this is done, check out the video below from Shawn Beard over at The Techy Coach. Shawn will show you how some text, a little object animation, a smidge of copy-&-paste, and the Publish to the web… option in Google Slides can help you create your own custom banner in a format that can easily be embedded onto a new Google Sites webpage.

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.

 

 

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.