How to Use Q&A in Google Slides for iPad & iPhone

Google Slides Q&A

When Google Slides first came out, I wasn’t very kind in my review of all that it could do (or not do). However, the iOS app has seen a lot of improvements and today Google released a brand new feature that will be great for classrooms and presenters everywhere – a live question and answer module that lets an audience ask and vote on questions they would most like you do address. Here’s how it works.

When I first tried out this feature, I couldn’t find how to activate it. My app was up to date, but there was nothing in the menus that indicated how to start a Q&A session. Turns out, there is something you need to know first. The Q&A feature is only available when your iPad is connected to a projector or other external device. This means you need to mirror your iPad via Airplay, or use a VGA adapter to connect to the display you want to present on. You will not be able to access Q&A unless you are connected to an external display.

Step 1: Connect your iPad to the projector or external display.

Step 2: Launch the presentation you want use, and tap the play arrow from the toolbar. In the drop-down menu, choose to Present to an external display.

Present to external display

Step 3: Once you are in presenter mode, tap the Q&A icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen to open the Q&A menu.

Q&A button

Step 4: Tap START NEW to start a new Q&A session.

Start new Q&A

Step 5: If you are a Google Apps for Education user, or a Google Apps business user, you will have the option to limit questions to people within your organization, but if you select Anyone, everyone in the audience, regardless of whether they have a Google account or not, can ask or vote on questions.

Question permissions

Step 6: Once you have set the permissions you want, click the back arrow in the top left-hand corner of your screen to return to your presentation. At this point, you see the presenter mode, and the audience sees your first slide with a banner along the top that has a URL for them to visit on their device in order to enter questions and vote on questions submitted by others.

Presenter View Google Slides iPad

Step 7: When a new question arrives, you will see a number appear on the Q&A icon in the top right-hand corner of your screen. Tap the number to see the questions that have been asked.

Step 8: To address a specific question with your audience, tap on it. This changes the audience view from your current slide to a full-screen view of the question you selected, as well as the name of the person that asked the question, (so long as they signed in with their Google account before asking the question). If the user does not sign in before asking a question, they will be listed as Anonymous.

Audience Question

Step 9: If the audience members have voted on questions, the ones with the most votes appear at the top of your list, (a la Google Moderator). Every question you answer/address is highlighted with a checkmark so you can see which ones you have answered and which ones you have not got to yet.

Step 10: When you exit your presentation, you can tap the three dots in the top right-hand corner of the app and access Q&A History. This shows you all the questions that were asked during the presentation. The entries are time stamped so that if you gave the same presentation on different days, you will be able to see what was asked for each day.

The video below show the Google Slides Q&A in action:

How to Share Files, Photos & Links via Gmail on iOS

gmail default for ipad

One of the more popular posts on my blog of late was a post I wrote about how to make Gmail the default mail app on the iPad. It worked great, but it was a workaround and you couldn’t help but feel that there must be a better way. Well, today there is, because Google updated the Gmail app to make it do (almost) everything that you need it to do in order to use Gmail as your default mail app on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Here’s what you need to know.

First, you need to make sure that both your iPad and the Gmail app is up to date. This only works if your iPad in on iOS 8 (or later) and version 4.0 of the Gmail app (or later versions). You can check your iPad software version by going to Settings > General > About and looking for the Version number. For Gmail, navigate your way to the App Store, and tap Updates to see if an update is available. Once you have that under control, we can begin…

1. Open the app that you would like to have Gmail available as your default mail client to share links, files or other information. Examples of apps might include Safari, Chrome, Photos, Flipboard, etc.

2. Tap the Share icon and swipe to the right-hand side of the top row of sharing apps until you see the More option, as in the image below:

share more icon ipad

3. Tap More, and scroll down through the list of apps until you find Gmail.

4. Tap the toggle switch next to the Gmail app to turn it green and activate Gmail as a sharing option on your iOS device.

5. The three horizontal lines to the right of the toggle switch will let you drag the Gmail app further up the list so that it is more readily accessible when you need it to share. Once you have it where you want it, tap Done.

activate gmail sharing ipad

That’s all there is to it. The next time you find a website you want to share, a photo you need to email, or a file you want to attach to a Gmail message, simply go to the share menu in the app you are working in, and tap Gmail to open a new email.

So, no more workarounds, no more headaches, and no more wishing for things to be different, because Google has made the changes that lots of people wanted to see and updated their app so that you truly can use it as the default email app on your iOS device.

10 Alternatives to InfuseLearning for Assessments

formative assessment tools for teachers

Yesterday, it was announced that InfuseLearning, the popular, free online formative assessment tool, will be closing its doors for good on April 3, 2015. Those that have used it know that it was a great tool for teachers who were looking to gather data on their students to help inform future instruction. However, of late, it did not work as well as it used to, and ultimately this looks to have led to its eventual demise. So, here is a roundup of some of the best alternatives to InfuseLearning.

1. Socrative – It has been around for a while, but the recent 2.0 update gave it a much needed facelift and some new features to boot. It’s free, multi-platform, and a great way for teachers to get data on how well their students understand the content. They also have a great resource page with training materials to help you introduce this tool to others.

2. Kahoot! – If you’ve been to an edtech conference in the last 12 months, the chances are good that you have already been part of a Kahoot! quiz. Kahoot is a gamified approach to assessment, and it definitely adds a fun factor to a traditional quiz. Like Scorative, it can be used on any modern device. Read more about Kahoot here.

kahoot

3. Google Forms – Google Apps schools have been using Forms to collect assessment data for some time now, and over the years Forms has evolved to become an interesting online quiz tool. There are a variety of useful question types that include the ability to add images and videos. Pair it with Flubaroo, and you have a powerful self-grading assessment tool.

4. Excel Surveys – Not a Google school? Microsoft offer their own version of survey tool called Excel Surveys. It is available to Office 365 schools, or anyone with a free personal Microsoft account via Office Online. It lacks some of the more useful options found in Google Forms, but there is still enough to make it worth a look. Read more about Excel Surveys here.

5. Plickers – If devices are not plentiful in your school, then Plickers is exactly what you need. If you’ve never used it before, you will be amazed at how it works. You print out a collection of four sided QR code-like markers for students. They select the answer they want to give by rotating the card to the letter they want to submit, and the teacher scans the cards with a smartphone or tablet to record student responses. Read about Plickers here.

plickers.com

Continue reading “10 Alternatives to InfuseLearning for Assessments”

Google Makes TeleStory & Toontastic Free for Everyone

toontastic free telestory ipad

In surprising news today, Launchpad Toys announced that they had been acquired by Google. Ordinarily, this may not be of much interest to educators, but as of today, Toontastic and TeleStory are completely free for iOS devices and that includes all the in-app purchases that were previously a paid upgrade! Both apps are great storytelling apps for any classroom that uses iPads. Both apps are current favorites with educators, but their newly free features are about to earn them a whole lot of additional fans.

GOOGLE buys launchpad toys

Toontastic, if you have not previously tried it, is an amazing digital storytelling app for the iPad. Teachers everywhere love this app because it is simple to use and has a built-in story arc that actively encourage students to build a well-structured story. I have seen Toontastic used in Kindergarten all the way up to high school. Such is the versatility of this app. It is also great for one iPad classrooms because several students can collaborate on the same story on just a single iPad by taking turns to out different characters in the story. Completed cartoons can be shared online or saved to the Camera Roll for use in other projects. Take a look at the new trailer for Toontastic in the video below:

Telestory is available for both the iPhone and the iPad. It’s an augmented reality video camera that lets students run wild with their imagination. It lets kids write and record a story in a number of fun themes like a news report, a space adventure or a spy movie. Using augmented reality, students become a part of the story themselves with a variety of fun video effects, and can even switch between cameras to vary the action. Great fun, and an incredibly motivating way to tell a story on the iPad. The new trailer for Telestory is below:

Looking for more ideas on how to use these apps? Check out LaunchpadEDU. It has stories, ideas and tips from other educators that are already using Toontastic and Telestory with their students. You may even end up on this page yourself if you share the way your class uses either of these apps!

Google is now making a habit of purchasing popular paid apps and making them free for everyone to use. Snapseed and Word Lens are two recent examples of this so who knows what might be next on their shortlist. In the meantime, if you are an educator who uses iPads in the classroom, go check out the newly free editions of Toontastic and Telestory. Both are well worth your time.

A Digital Worksheet is Still Just a Worksheet

digital worksheets

Recently, there have been a number of tech tools that have been created to help enhance teacher productivity and improve assignment workflows in the classroom. Take, for example, the excellent OneNote Class Notebook Creator. It is an ideal app for Office 365 schools who want to quickly distribute materials to a whole class, have students work in a paperless environment, while also providing a collaboration space for the whole class to work in.

Google Apps schools are flocking to Google Classroom – a management tool for teachers who are looking to consolidate and simplify the flow of electronic files. It lets you make a copy of an individual document and distribute it to students with permissions configured automatically so that only the student and the teacher can see the document. There is also a discussion feed for students to communicate inside your Google Classroom.

iPad classrooms are using workflow apps like Showbie as a way for students to turn in assignments created on the iPad so teachers can grade them and give feedback. Similar apps like Skaffl, Handouts, and Turnitin do much the same thing, while others are turning to cloud services like Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive to meet the same need.

Then there are the many learning management systems that were created to take your classroom to the cloud. Canvas, Moodle, Schoology, Blackboard, Haiku, BrainHoney and many many more exist because teachers are looking for simple ways to unify the experience of delivering content and working online with students.

However, there’s a problem with all of these systems. The problem is, that they make it too easy for teachers to do what they always used to do – assign worksheets that don’t challenge, engage and empower students in their learning. A digital version of a paper worksheet is still just a worksheet, and it is not taking advantage of the powerful technologies that students have at their fingertips today.

It doesn’t matter whether you are using Chromebooks, Macbooks, iPads or Surface tablets. A low-level worksheet is a low-level worksheet whether it is in paper form, a PDF, a Word Doc or a Google Doc. Whether they type on it, or write over it with digital ink, it makes no difference. I know it is quick, easy, and convenient to assign. I know because I did it myself when I was in the classroom. It doesn’t make you a bad teacher, but your students deserve better.

None of these tools are inherently flawed. In fact the majority of them are fantastic because they  offer multiple solutions to a very real digital problem. However, I would encourage you to use them in a way that is most befitting a modern digital classroom. Use them to collect authentic assignments that demand creativity. Use them as part of project based or inquiry driven learning projects. Use them to showcase learning in a way that can only be captured with an electronic device.

Consider collaborative projects in Office Online or Google Drive. Have your students write a blog post or create a website to showcase their learning. Have them create a screencast or an Office Mix presentation. Assign them a video project that combines other multimedia content or take advantage of stop motion and green screen effects to communicate their learning. Have them create a Thinglink, an interactive timeline, or a custom Google Map. Challenge them to some App Smashing (it’s not just for iPads by the way), tell some digital stories, create some Kahoot quizzes, or reach out for new ideas like augmented reality, QR codes, and makerspaces.

I know there is a lot out there, and I know it gets overwhelming, but it’s also incredibly rewarding and help is at hand. The chances are high that someone in your building is already doing this, and if they aren’t, there are thousands of educators on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ that will be more than happy to help you out and share their ideas.

Start small. Begin by replacing just one worksheet with an idea like the ones above and see how it goes. Watch the reaction you get from your students. As time goes by, continue to look for more ways to leverage the power of your digital devices and integrate meaningful digital experiences to demonstrate learning in new and innovative ways. Trust me. It will challenge your students, motivate them, and engage them in something deeper, and more meaningful, than any worksheet you can lay your hands on.

How to Move a Public Google Site to a Google Apps Domain (and vice versa)

Better Google Sites

Something I get asked about every now and again is how to move a Google Site that was created in a public account, into a Google Apps for Education domain account. This is a popular thing to do when a school gets Google Apps for Education for the first time. However, it is also a top request among teachers that move to a new job with a new school and want to do the reverse, or even transfer between apps domains. Here’s what you need to know.

The first important thing to know is that you can’t actually move a site. What you have to do instead is make a copy of the site, and for this you need two Google accounts — your personal account and your Apps for Education account. Once you have made the copy, you can choose to delete the other site if you want, or just take it offline and ignore it.

The instructions below are based on a scenario where you have created a Google Site in your public account and want to move it into a Google Apps domain because your school is going Google. However, it is very much the same procedure to make a copy of a site to a public account, or move it between apps domains. So, let’s get started!

1. In your browser of choice, log in to your personal Google account with your @gmail username and password. Then navigate to the Google Sites website you want to work with.

2. Now, add yourself as an owner by clicking on the blue share button in the top right-hand corner of the site. (You are, of course, already an owner of this site, but what you are going to do here is add your new Google Apps for Education account as a collaborator on the site. Be sure to give this account the rights of an “Owner”).

sharing permissions

2. Next, copy the URL of the site you just added your school Google account to.

3. In another browser, (or in another user account in Chrome), log in to your school Google account with your Google Apps for Education username and password.

sign in to Google

4. Paste the URL of the website we made changes to earlier. You should find that you have full access to the editing controls when it loads, but if you don’t, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Sign in link in the footer.

5. Click the gear icon in the top right-hand corner, and select Manage Site. This will take you to the General settings page of your Google Site.

manage site

6. Choose the “Copy this site” option and rename it accordingly. If you want to keep your other Google account as a collaborator on this site, feel free to copy the original collaborators checked before you copy.

copy this site

7. The site will now appear in your list of websites at http://sites.google.com when you are logged in with your Google Apps for Education account.

There are, however, a couple of caveats. For starters, the site you just created now has a new URL. Be sure to make that available to anyone who needs access to your site, or create a custom tinyurl and share that. The URL you used previously, will direct people to the site that was originally created outside your Google Apps domain.

Speaking of the old site, it’s a good idea to change the sharing permissions on the one to “Private” so not to confuse visitors about which site to visit, or just delete the old site altogether if you don’t think you will need it any more. You also need to make sure that you, as the owner, are updating the correct site!

Otherwise, you should be good to go. When you make a copy of a Google Site it will look exactly the same as the original version so all the content you had before will now be available to you and your visitors inside your Google Apps for Education domain.

Google’s Classroom LMS App: What We Know So Far

Today, Google took the wraps off a brand new free app for Google Apps for Education users called Classroom. It is designed to meet the needs of teachers and students in the same way that an LMS like Canvas, Haiku or Edmodo might do. Here’s what we know so far.

UPDATE: Google Classroom is now live for all Google Apps for Education domains. Read my hands-on review and step-by-step guide here.

In a press release on their blog, Google listed the following features as part of the new Classroom app for Google Apps for Education users:

  • Create and collect assignments: Classroom weaves together Google Docs, Drive and Gmail to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly. They can quickly see who has or hasn’t completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback to individual students.
  • Improve class communications: Teachers can make announcements, ask questions and comment with students in real time—improving communication inside and outside of class.
  • Stay organized: Classroom automatically creates Drive folders for each assignment and for each student. Students can easily see what’s due on their Assignments page.
Google Classroom Screenshot
Screenshot of a student dashboard in Classroom

Teachers can add students to a class they create, or issue an enrollment code to students. When teachers create an assignment, they can choose to share it as a single document or create a copy for every student in their class. Teachers can see at a glance who has turned in the assignment, and who hasn’t, as well as send announcements to the whole class. Students can also post questions to a classroom stream for everyone to see or comment on.

Continue reading “Google’s Classroom LMS App: What We Know So Far”

Access the Google Drive Template Gallery on an iPad

Recently, I was asked if it was possible to access the Google Drive Template Gallery on the iPad. The Template Gallery is a great repository of ready made Google templates for Docs, Presentations, Spreadsheets, Drawings and Forms. Teachers can add documents to the Template Gallery for students to use and adapt for their own assignments.

I had never tried it on the iPad before, so I had no reason to doubt that it wouldn’t work, but I was wrong. If you open Safari and navigate to http://drive.google.com/templates you are immediately greeted with a 404 error. The Template Gallery will not load.

404 Template Gallery Error

So, here’s how to fix it. Instead of using Safari, download and open the Chrome iOS browser. If you navigate to http://drive.google.com/templates in Chrome, and you will find the same 404 error. However, the fix is not far away. Tap the Settings icon in the top right-hand corner, and select Request Desktop Site.

request desktop site

The site will then reload and display the Google Drive Templates Gallery just like it does on a laptop or desktop computer. Better still, if you pick a Docs or Spreadsheet template, Chrome will automatically switch you over to the Drive app (if you have it installed) and you can then edit, save and share your new document.

Drive templates in Chrome

Just be aware that if you select a Document template that has tables in it, this type of document will not display properly in the Google Drive iPad app because the Google Drive iPad app does not currently support tables. I hope this changes in the near future!

Still, if you have trouble accessing the Google Drive Template Gallery on the iPad, try this quick trick with the Chrome iOS app to access the files you, or your students, need.

Setting Default Apps on the iPad with Google

If, like me, you are a Google Apps user who loves to use their iPad, you may have longed for the ability to have your favorite Google services set as the default apps on your iPad. Well, you can, to a degree, and here’s how.

DriveGoogle+ on iOSgmailGooglechrome

Today I saw a post on Google+ by Chris Betcher, a Google Certified Teacher and Trainer, that reminded me how to do just that. It’s simple really, and there is no need for workarounds or even jailbreaking your device, because Google has done all the hard work for you.

Whether you realize it or not, Google has updated its iOS apps so that they can talk to each other. For instance, it you click on an email link while inside Chrome, the iPad will automatically open the Gmail instead of Apple’s Mail app. The same applies for links that lead to a file in Drive. Clicking the link inside of Gmail will open the file in the Drive app, instead of Safari. Found an interesting link in Google+?  Tap the share arrow, and you can open it in Chrome.

Setting Default Apps on the iPad

Apple doesn’t allow you to set default apps on the iPad, so how is this possible? Well, it is all down to a bit of clever engineering from Google. If you navigate to the Settings in Gmail or Chrome, you will find a menu option called Google Apps. Clicking that, allows you to choose a Google iOS app to open something that may normally be opened by Safari or the Mail app.

So, all that is left to do is to wean yourself off some of Apple’s default apps. Mobile Safari is a great browser, and the Mail app is very solid too. However, if you find yourself in these apps when you would rather be in Google’s apps, all you need to do is shift your focus to using the Chrome and Gmail apps instead.

Using Google on the iPad can sometimes be a bit of an ordeal, but in case you haven’t tried it, the experience is very much the same on Google’s Android tablets. You can set default apps on Android, but if you use Chrome to access your Google Drive you will still be forced into the mobile view and warned that you are using an incompatible browser when in the Desktop view. Still, progress has been made, and Google’s commitment to mobile devices is clear, even if the support is not coming quite as fast as some of us might like it to! 🙂

For more information on setting Google’s apps as default apps on the iPad, watch Chris Betcher’s video below, and check out this follow-up post on how to set Gmail as the default mail app on iOS.

Take Control: Customize the New Google App Launcher

App Launcher Customizer for Google

The famous black bar is gone, and has been replaced with a new icon based app launcher. Personally, I like it, but I know there are still some that are having trouble letting go of that iconic horizontal menu. However, there is a great Chrome extension that will help make that transition just a little bit easier – App Launcher Customizer for Google.

Once installed, you have the option of adding or removing any of the standard apps that appear by default in the new app launcher. You can choose from over 170 Google apps and services, and sort them so that they are organized just the way you want them. It’s as simple as dragging and dropping.

App Launcher Options

However, that’s not all. You can also add custom bookmarks so that you can save some of your most often used websites alongside your most often used Google services. Simply click the Add Custom Shortcut button and add the URL of your choice. Best of all, your settings are synced via Chrome sync so you can enjoy your new custom layout in any Chrome browser you happen to be signed into.

Essentially, App Launcher Customizer for Google does the same thing that Big G Black Bar Sorter did, (it’s now removed from the Chrome Web Store), but is still a very useful extension to have, and one that could make your life just a little bit easier every time you are online. The video below has a walkthrough of what you can expect when you install this new app.