Recent Updates to Google Classroom

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

Classroom commenting tool drop-down menuThe 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

Email student or guardians envelope iconGuardian 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.

Guardian summary email tool

Teachers & Co-Teachers

About section-teacher managementNothing 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.


WeVideo & Mobile Devices

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how to use WeVideo on Chromebook “laptop” devices. However, a new fleet of Chromebooks are being released that can wear more than one hat, switching over to behaving like a tablet device and then back to a laptop. We are currently piloting Chromebooks with this capability in our elementary schools. That being said, I wondered if WeVideo provided support for mobile and tablet devices.

Getting the appmobile app icon

If you prefer to film with a mobile or tablet device, then you can install the FREE WeVideo mobile app. Click here to download the app for Apple iOS and Android.

How it works

When using the mobile app here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • You will need to sign-in to the app with your GSuite account in order to access all of its features.

Mobile app login screen

  • Once you film your scenes, remember to sync the clips to your WeVideo account so that you can edit them from your laptop (sync button located in the top-right corner).

Editor screen with sync button highlighted

  • If you are using a shared device, remember to sign out when filming is complete in order to keep your account secure.

Tap hamburger icon for menu, then My account to log out

NOTE: As I played around with the mobile app I kept encountering an incompatibility issue between the mobile app and the web app. Clips edited on the mobile app can be synced and then edited some more in the web app. However, I could not complete this process in reverse and would receive an error message in the mobile app if attempted. This is manageable for us since access to our filming iPad is limited, so the sooner students sync their footage up to the cloud and then do their editing on their Chromebooks the better. If anyone has additional information or insight about this issue then please leave a reply in the box below.

WeVideo & Chromebooks: Screen vs. WebCam Filming

What is it?

  • WeVideo supports two types of filming configurations: Webcam and Record Screen.
  • Please note that the Record Screen is a premium feature and is available only on the Chrome Browser.
  • To begin, start or open an existing project and from the editor window locate the red recorder icon.

editor menu with recorder icon

How it works

WebcamWeVideo Webcam recorder icon

  • Use the Webcam tool if you want to capture content using your device’s built-in camera.
  • In order to use the Webcam tool, you will need their free Chrome extension. Click the INSTALL button to begin this process, or you can use this link to pre-install it ahead of time.

Install Chrome Ext. notification

  • Authorize Chrome to add the “Video Recorder for WeVideo” extension:

Chrome Web Store authorization

  • The first time you activate this option, you will need to give permission for WeVideo to access your camera and microphone.

Authorize access to camera & microphone

  • WeVideo will scan for available camera and microphone equipment and let you choose which you’d like to film with:

video and microphone equipment options

  • When recording is complete, you will get a pop-up window where you can preview your recording.
    • If you would like to re-record your footage, then select the RECORD NEW button in the bottom-left corner.
    • If you would like to download the recording to your device’s hard drive as a .webm file, then select the DOWNLOAD button in the bottom-right corner.
    • My media folderOtherwise, select SAVE to send your footage to the ‘My media’ folder of your project. Files stored here should be accessible across all of your different video project folders.

Webcam recorder preview window

Record Screen

(Please note that the Record Screen is a premium feature and is available only on the Chrome Browser.)Record Screen option

  • Use the Record Screen option if you want to capture something on the screen of your device.
  • Once selected, you have two additional recording options:
    • Record your entire screen: great if you will need all of your available work space.
    • Record within a specific window: handy if you have another project going on in another window…or you don’t want your audience to see your messy Desktop.
  • If you not done so already, you will need to give permission for WeVideo to access your camera and microphone.
  • You can also control whether or not you would like your microphone on during recording. Keep this in mind if you want to capture any sounds produced by your device’s speakers during filming.

Record Audio option

  • If you have not already done so already, you will need to install the free Chrome extension.
  • When recording is complete, your footage will be saved to the ‘My media’ folder of your project. Files stored here should be accessible across all of your different video project folders.

For more information, please refer to the WeVideo Support site and their Screen Recording article.

WeVideo & Chromebooks: Google Classroom Integration

One of the benefits of having an education account with WeVideo is the ability to easily share finished videos directly to Google Classroom.

Share to Google Classroom icon


As a teacher, you can select a finished video and create an assignment, ask a question, or make an announcement. You will have access to the full Google Classroom editor from this pop-up window allowing you to add directions, set a due date, add additional materials to the post, and so on.

Share to Classroom options for teachers

Classroom editor window for an Announcement Post


As a student, once they have selected a finished video and clicked on the Share to Classroom option, have them find their class and then select the appropriate assignment they would like to attach their video artifact to.

ADD tool inside of an assignment in Google ClassroomNOTE: This option will not work for assignments whose due date has passed. If a student finds themselves in this situation, I would recommend having them first verify that they have connected their Google Drive account to WeVideo (directions for this can be found here), then use the ADD tool inside of Google Classroom to attach it to the assignment.

For more information on using Google Classroom with WeVideo, please check out their support page and/or their video tutorial below.


As the summer break comes to an end and educators begin preparations for the return of students (and with some already in session), now seems like a good time to chat about the benefits that Google Classroom can have on your class. Google has been hard at work during the summer hiatus listening to the feedback they’ve received from educators like you and have introduced significant improvements to the app. We will spend the next weeks going over these changes, some of which are very, very cool!

To begin, Google has announced a new resource for educators called #FirstDayofClassroom, which has a little something for everyone.

  • If you’re new to Classroom, then check out “The Basics” with YouTube videos that cover setting up your class, adding students, assigning work, and grading assignments inside of Classroom.
  • If you’ve tried Classroom before and are looking for the next steps, then check out the “Teacher’s Lounge” with videos on tips, tricks, and best practices from fellow educators.

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 12.59.51 PM

  • Do you prefer documents over videos that you can print out and have in-hand at a moment’s notice? Then scroll down to the “Handy Guides” section.

screenshot of 3 PDF guides available for download

If you or someone you know is new to Google Classroom then this site is definitely bookmark-worthy. If you are familiar with Classroom or perhaps even a veteran, then check back often for news and updates as additional resources and support materials are in the works.


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.


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.”

The Data Center Mural Project: Update

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?