Google recently announced some updates to their Google Classroom app with a focus on improving communication with students as well as with parents/guardians. If you’d like to watch this review online then click here.
Comment Settings move to STREAM
The configuration box for controlling the commenting ability of students has been moved from the STUDENTS tab to the STREAM tab. The actual functions haven’t changed; you can still set the public or “class” commenting privileges for students, just that the tool is now located on the tab where the commenting actually takes place:
- Students can post and comment
- Students can only comment
- Only teachers can post and comment
Manually send Guardian Summaries
Guardian Summaries are a way for parents to get regular updates on how their child is doing in their classes through Google Classroom. Go to the STUDENT tab and click on the name of a student in the list to take you to their “Your work” tool. By clicking on the envelope icon in the top-right corner, now teachers can manually send a Guardian Summary to a student, the guardian(s) of the student, or both the student and the guardian(s). After selecting your receiver, there is a space below to enter a quick message. Don’t forget to check off the box to Include student work summary if you want that information included in the transmission. NOTE: A guardian must have accepted the invite prior to this point in order to include them in this communique.
Teachers & Co-Teachers
Nothing much to say here except that the footprint of this module has been made smaller. You still use this tool to add co-teachers to your class, remove them, email them, or transfer ownership of the class to another. Students still see the list of co-teachers for the class and an envelope icon to send an email to them.
As always, if you like these changes or have suggestions for some new ones then please do not hesitate to send Google feedback via the question mark “?” icon located in the bottom-left corner of the window.
Google likes to promote their cloud services and specifically the ability to work on artifacts in real-time that reflect real-time changes. However, there are still times when hard copies of artifacts are needed and Google recognizes this. Because users cannot install printer software on their Chromebooks, Google has created a cloud-based printing service.
The ‘Select a destination’ Window
1. The print destination selection window is divided into three groups:
- Recent Destinations: This is where your recent print destination will be listed, with the most recent one listed at the top.
- Local Destinations: This option allows you to download a file instead of printing it.
- Google Cloud Print: This option lists all of the printers your account has been given access to. NOTE: This option by default shows the top 5/6 recently selected devices. To see the entire list of available printers, scroll to the bottom of the list and click on the “Show All…” button.
2. Once a printer is selected, use the left-hand sidebar to configure the printer for the desired output from the printer.
3. If you desire more customization options, then go to the bottom of the sidebar and click on the plus sign for “More settings.”
Additional Print Options
If you know the name of the printer you’d like to use, then you can easily start typing the name of that printer into the Search destinations box at the top of the window.
Save to Google Drive
This feature allows you to create a digital file out of the information you have on the screen and save it directly to your Google Drive. This can come in handy when, for example, you want to save a copy of a webpage.
Save as PDF
This feature allows you to create a digital file out of the information you have on the screen and save it to the Files App on your Chromebook. This feature can come in handy when you want to create a local copy of a webpage, or when you want to convert a file to a read-only PDF.
CleanPrint Chrome Extension
Many of today’s webpages are not formatted to print neatly on an 8 ½ by 11 in. piece of paper. When printing in this situation, you may want to consider using the CleanPrint Chrome extension. This tool will remove any ads, images, and other items that take up extra space (and paper), leaving only the important text to be printed. We have deployed this extension to all of our users at York Middle School to help with reducing printer consumables.
To use CleanPrint:
- Navigate to the webpage you want to print.
- Click on the CleanPrint extension icon to have the webpage “optimized” for printing.
- In the CleanPrint preview window, remove any items that you do not need included in the print job, then select the desired output option from the left-hand sidebar menu
In a previous post I shared the story of how Google is bringing a little magic to their data centers around the world by partnering with local artists to create the The Data Center Mural Project. I talked about the story behind the project, the types of media that can be explored at the Mayes County, OK (in the U.S.) and St. Ghislain, Hainaut (in Belgium) sites, and teased about two additional sites in the works. This week Google has added new photos, videos, and interviews for their Dublin, Ireland and Council Bluffs, Iowa sites.
The Dublin, Ireland site was supervised by local artist Fuchsia MacAree, whose mural reminds me of the fun and excitement that comes with the spring and summer seasons, which cannot come soon enough for us here in the state of Maine, U.S.A. My favorite part of this project was learning about how they use the local climate to help cool the massive amounts of equipment inside, thereby saving energy and money on more traditional “mechanical” cooling systems.
The Council Bluffs, Iowa site was headed by local artist Gary Kelley, who used the building to tell the story of how important the area has been and continues to be in the sending and receiving of information. After listening to “A History of Connection” I could see this as a history project that I could really sink my teeth into. You can read the full debrief on The Data Center Mural Project by going to Google’s The Keyword Blog.
- Have students investigate additional art forms in and around the area of these data centers.
- Compare and contrast one of these data centers to your school/district computer system (besides scale, that is). Have students develop a list of qualifications and responsibilities that one would need in order to work at a Google data center.
- Present students with the following scenario: If Google built a data center in your hometown, what would your mural proposal look like? How would it represent the community and surrounding art culture?
Google Apps are standalone programs that can run on their own and can be accessed from the Launcher tool on the Chromebook. Chrome Extensions are add-ons that work exclusively inside of the Google Chrome app.
1. Extensions are accessed from the top of the Chrome app window and to the right of the URL address bar.
- Drag extensions to arrange them in any order you prefer.
- If you need to make room to access more extensions, then place your cursor on the edge of the URL address bar, then drag to your left to shorten the bar and make more room for extensions.
2. To manage your Chrome extensions, use the “3 Oreos” button located in the top-right corner of the browser window to activate a drop-down menu, then click on ‘More tools’ -> ‘Extensions’ or type the following into the URL address bar: chrome://extensions
- Extensions are listed in alphabetical order
- Clicking on ‘Details’ will display a pop-up window with info. about the Extension including overview, version, and what permissions it has to your account information. From here you can also access the Extension listing in the Chrome Web Store.
- Some Extensions will show an ‘Options’ link to a window with additional customization and settings options.
- Some Extensions can be disabled by removing the checkmark from the ‘Enabled’ box. Some Extensions cannot be disabled due to settings configured by the Google Admin.
- Some Extensions can be removed entirely by clicking on the Trashcan icon to the right of the extension entry. If there is a pair of buildings icon instead of the trashcan for an extension, then this means it was installed by the Google Admin and cannot be removed.
3. You can add additional Extensions to your Chrome app from the Chrome Web Store (Note: there is an app for that in the All Apps menu).
4. Click on the ‘Extensions’ category or use the Search field if you already have an extension in mind.
5. Extensions with a green ribbon in the top-left corner of their icon have already been added to your account; those without a ribbon have not been added and are not yet available for use.
6. Google Admins may restrict access to the Chrome Web Store for specific groups of users. For example, in my organization staff may add any extension to their Chrome web browser, but students may only add extensions that have been pre-approved. If there is an extension that a teacher feels would be of an educational benefit to students then they may submit a request to open up access to the extension.
Natural History – The beautiful, the dangerous, the endangered. Up close.
Welcome to the Natural History exhibit from Google’s Arts & Culture project. Here you will gain access to a wealth of information presented in multiple, interactive ways. The various exhibits that you can tour virtually come from museums all over the world (54 at my last count) including the Seodaemun Museum in Seoul, South Korea, the State Darwin Museum in Moscow, Russia, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., USA.
Some exhibits work like Google Street View, allowing you to move through and around the exhibits. Others take advantage of 360° technology to take you on a virtual reality video tour, such as the Jurassic giant Giraffatitan in Berlin, Germany or the prehistoric sea dragon Rhomaleosaurus in London, England.
And there is still more to be discovered! Take an interactive tour on a Brief History of Discovery, or read about animals that exist on our planet right now that are considered to have super powers! Then there is the library of over 260 curated YouTube videos on Natural History. These videos play within the Natural History website and are free of ads and suggested videos.
For more information check out this entry from the Google Keyword Blog, then let your imagination and curiosity run wild!
Icons come in handy when you need to add a little extra emphasis to a slide, provide a visual in a tutorial, or breakup a document full of text. Google has built a library of open source icons grouped under themes such as actions, communication, hardware, maps and more!
- Locate an icon (Hint: use your browser’s ‘Find’ command to search the library by keyword).
- Single-click on the icon to activate a pop-up toolbar along the bottom of the page. Use this toolbar to select your dp (dimensional pixels), color (black or white), and file download type (.svg or .png).
- If you choose to download the icon as a .png, note that this will give you different versions of the icon formatted for Android, iOS, and web use.
These icons are open source and while attribution (i.e. give credit) is appreciated but not required, Google does ask that users do not re-sell these icons.
Spotlight Stories uses the power of 360-degree camera technology to take storytelling to a whole new level. Here the user controls where to direct their attention, just as if they were actually there and experiencing the story themselves. Because you don’t necessarily know where in this 360-degree world the next scene in the story is going to take place, these stories have a much larger replay value over fixed-perspective storytelling.
There are several ways that you can experience Spotlight Stories:
1. YouTube on the web: Navigate to the Google Spotlight Stories channel and access a handful of 360-degree stories, story trailers, and behind-the-scenes clips. Look for the directional compass icon in the top-left corner of the YouTube player window to identify that the video supports the 360-degree technology, then use your mouse to drag on the video pane and change your perspective.
360 Google Spotlight Story: HELP
2. YouTube mobile app: In order to fully take advantage of the 360-degree technology experience, use a mobile device and the YouTube app to immerse yourself in these virtual environments. Note that there is the additional option to enable Google Cardboard and add 3D to the storytelling experience. [YouTube for iOS | Android]
360 Google Spotlight Story: Pearl
3. Spotlight Stories mobile app: Download the free Spotlight Stories app and experience where storytelling and mobile VR meet. Here you will find their complete library of interactive storytelling videos, with more to be released soon.
So, let the storytelling and exploring begin!
Oh, did I mention that a new Simpsons-themed Spotlight Story, Planet of the Couches, was just released? “Doh!”