How to Add Clip Art to Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms & Drawings

At a recent Google Drive training, a participant asked me if there was a way to insert clip art into a Google Doc. They knew how to insert images, but they wanted an image bank of those cartoon-like clip art images, just like in Microsoft Word. Can it be done? Indeed it can. Here’s how.

Start by opening the document of your choice and going to Insert > Image to open the Google Image browser. Then select “Search” from the menu on the right-hand side.

insert image

Next, enter the type of image you are looking for in the Google search box. Results that are shown are labelled for commercial use with modification, so they are perfect for classroom use. In this example I am going to search for a picture of a dog.

dog image search

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Google Slides for iPad: A Good Start, But It Still Needs Some Work

Today Google finally delivered on their promise to release an iOS version of Google Slides. It is free, available in the App Store right now, and joins Docs, Sheets and Drive as part of Google’s productivity apps for the iPad and iPhone. Is it any good? Here are some initial thoughts I had after trying it out this afternoon.

Google Slides for iPad

It is great to have the ability to create and edit Google Presentations on the iPad, but you probably won’t rush to uninstall Keynote, PowerPoint or even Haiki Deck just yet. Why? Well, although you do have some basic formatting and editing features built-in, Slides still lacks some basics that you might expect to find in an interactive iPad presentation app.

For instance, you only get one theme to choose from when you create a new Presentation. That theme is not even a theme really because it is just a collection of white slides. Another drawback is the inability to add images or video. There is no option to browse the camera roll for media, or even to copy and paste images from other sources.

When you come to present, you can see your speaker notes in the editor mode, but not in presentation mode. That’s a little odd. There are also no annotation tools or laser pointers that you find in the presentation modes of other apps. There are also no transitions or animations.

Continue reading “Google Slides for iPad: A Good Start, But It Still Needs Some Work”

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.

Test Driving the New iOS Apps for Google Docs and Sheets

Today Google released two standalone apps for Google Docs and Google Sheets. They are available for iOS and Android, and perhaps most exciting of all, another new app for Slides is on its way. So, how are they different to the iOS Drive app? Let’s find out.

google docs for ios

In terms of features, the big difference is the ability to create and edit documents offline. This is obviously nice to have, but it does not work with the “old” Google Spreadsheets, only with the “new” Google Spreadsheets or spreadsheets you create inside the app.

Additionally, seeing as they are separate apps, you only see your Docs in the Docs app and Sheets in the Sheets app. Teachers of younger students in a GAFE school may appreciate the separate app for just that reason.

It’s also a little easier to share a doc, because just like the desktop version you can now do that from inside the document or spreadsheet by pressing the “i” in the top right hand corner. You can also use Speak Selection on selected text to read that text aloud,  which is great as as an assistive technology tool.

You can now set a passcode lock for each user of the app. This could potentially be handy if your iPads are shared devices, but you will not always be prompted to enter a code or choose an account each time you open the app unless you choose the “always lock” feature, so turn that on to switch between users every time you open the app.

Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, the Docs and Spreadsheet apps are now the only way to create and edit Docs and Spreadsheets. Google has removed that functionality from the iOS Drive app, and turned it into a file manager like Dropbox, Box or OneDrive. If you hit the “+” sign and try to create a new document, you will be prompted to download the new Documents app if you don’t already have it.

google sheets for ios

Missing features? The most obvious gap seems to be the continued lack of support for tables in Documents. Hopefully that will come in a future update. I’d also like to see a Forms app that is optimized for the iPad, so hopefully that will be on the roadmap in the not too distant future. Other thoughts? Feel free to leave your own ideas below. Maybe Google is watching! 🙂

More information here.

Free Chromebook Screencasting with Snagit for Google Chrome

snagit for Chrome

Today was an exciting day for fans of Snagit for Chrome, because TechSmith finally took the beta tag off the screencasting abilities that this app has had for some time now. This is great news for educators, because although there is not a lot of new functionality, the setup procedure is much simpler than it was before.

If you are new to Snagit for Chrome, you should know that it comes as both a Chrome Extension (for capturing screenshots) and a Chrome app (for capturing screencasts and storing the media you create). Both are free, but both are required to be able to capture images and videos.

Because they are Chrome apps, they work on Macs or PCs running the Chrome web browser, as well as on Chromebooks. However, screencast performance is not ideal on some of the earlier Chromebooks with ARM processors, like the original Samsung Chromebook or the HP Chromebook 11. Intel processors deal much better with the demands of screencasting.

To record a screencast, launch the Snagit for Chrome app and click the “+” sign in the top left-hand corner, select the window you want to record, and you will instantly start recording your screen. Once you are done, click Stop Sharing at the bottom of your screen to finish your screencast. Completed videos are stored in the app, but they can also be shared to YouTube.

Snagit for Chrome Screencasting App

Snagit for Chrome is quick, simple, and ideal for teachers and students who wish to create good looking screencasts, for free, on a number of different devices. Watch the video below for a quick walkthrough of how it works in practice. For more help and ideas about screencasting on a Chromebook please see 3 Ways to Screencast on a Chromebook.

 

Why the Folder Gadget Beats Attachments in Google Sites

There are a number of ways that you can add file attachments to a Google Site. For instance, you can add files to the bottom of a page in the attachments area. You can also add a File Cabinet page. However, my favorite, by far, is the Folder gadget.

The folder gadget lets you display the contents of a Google Drive Folder on a Google Site. You add your folder by editing a page and going to Insert > Drive > Folder. Then you select the folder from your Google Drive that you want to add to your Google Site.

insert folder in google sites

For me, the Folder gadget has a number of advantages over page attachments or a file cabinet page. Here are a few of the important differences:

1. Updates: The problem with attachments and file cabinet pages is that every time you update a document, you need to remove the one you had from a Google Site and upload the latest version. If you use Google Docs, Spreadsheets or Presentations, you can log in to your Drive account, and edit the document. Because the file is in a folder that is embedded on your Google Site, the latest version of the file is automatically pushed to your website. This is great for teachers who update a syllabus or other class documents.

Continue reading “Why the Folder Gadget Beats Attachments in Google Sites”

How to Use Google Drive to Teach Coding in the Classroom

Coding in the classroom is becoming an increasingly popular thing to do. The Hour of Code helped raise awareness for that, and has brought to light a whole slew of new coding opportunities for teachers and students. I was similarly inspired, and have committed myself to learning HTML and CSS in my spare time this year. However, regardless of what code you decide to learn, or teach, you will need a code editor with which to compile your code. For me, there are few that have more benefits than the free Editey website editor apps.

editey

Editey apps can be installed inside Google Drive. Simply click Create > Connect More Apps, and search for Editey. Once you have installed the apps you want, all you need to do is hit the big red Create button to get started on some code. All your files are then stored inside Drive and can be accessed anywhere, at any time, on a Mac, PC or Chromebook. Better still, any files you create can be shared with other users and worked on in real time. This means students can collaborate with each other on their code, and share it with their teacher when they are done.

Continue reading “How to Use Google Drive to Teach Coding in the Classroom”

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.

Using Google Forms for a Contact Page on Google Sites

When I create custom Google Sites, one of the things I often add is a Google Form on the Contact page. It’s a quick, easy, and stylish way to give visitors to your website a way to contact you without ever having to leave your site. Here’s how to set one up.

Start by creating a form in Google Drive, but keep it simple. The more fields you add, the less likely people will be to use your form. So, Name, Email and Comments is usually fine for most circumstances, but feel free to change that up as required, (see below).

Google Sites Contact Form

Next, insert the Form on a Contact page of your Google Site. You can add a paragraph explaining that it is a way that people can contact you about anything you have seen on the site, but again this is optional. So, go to Insert > Drive > Form and select the Form you created.

insert google form

Now adjust the Form settings. I usually recommend leaving the border and title boxes unchecked. That way, you get a nice clean look and it does not immediately look like you have embedded a Google From. Leave the width blank and it will automatically fit the width of your site, and play with the height until it looks right for you and displays without a scroll bar. Then save your page.

Google Form Settings

To get notified of form submissions, go to the Responses spreadsheet that is associated with your Google Form. Then click Tools > Notification rules. This allows you to set up email alerts for form submissions, so check the box that says A user submits a form, and choose how quickly you would like to be notified of that action. Most of the time I select Email – right away, but if your inbox is full and overflowing, you may prefer the daily digest. Click Save to store your preferences.

notification settings google spreadhseet

And that is really all there is to it. From this point forward, visitors to your Google Site can submit questions and comments through the embedded Google Form, and you will get notified of their submission by email. Easy, right? 🙂