Monday, June 27, 2016

New Google Forms Quiz Feature vs Flubaroo

Google Forms has long been a favorite tool for schools, and one of the most popular uses for Forms has always been online assessments. Digital quizzes have many benefits for schools including:

  • Automatic grading for quick feedback for teachers and students.
  • Easy analysis of the results to determine who needs help and what content needs retaught.
  • Use of assistive technology to have text read aloud or zoomed in for easier reading.
  • Preparation for high-stakes online tests.
  • Savings on paper and printing.
  • Easy to update in the future or share with others for collaborative editing.

Google Forms has always made it super easy to create quizzes, send them out to students, and collect all the responses. The only pain point has been how to grade the student submissions.

Thankfully for years we have have the awesome add-on for Google Sheets called Flubaroo. This add-on allows educators to automatically grade the quiz responses as they get submitted from a Google Forms and collected in a Google Sheet. Over time more and more valuable features have been added to Flubaroo to make it a powerful tool for online assessment.

Suddenly though, there is a new option. At ISTE 2016 Google announced that Forms will now natively support the grading of online assessments without the need of an add-on such as Flubaroo. What does this mean for all the schools who have been using Flubaroo for years? Does it still have a place? Do these new features make it obsolete?

For all the details, see the rest of the blog post below for an in depth comparison of what Forms does, what Flubaroo does, and where they are different. Spoiler alert: Don't throw out Flubaroo just yet. Also, I cover a detailed overview of how to use the new Google Forms Quiz feature.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

You can take it with you! Moving your Google account with GradGopher

Change is a part of life:

  • You are a high school student, then you graduate.
  • You are in college, then your graduate again.
  • You get a job.
  • You move from one job to another (repeat as needed).
  • You retire from your job.

At each stage it is very possible you may have a Google account. Google Apps may be used at your high school, your college, and any one of your jobs. Not to mention the personal Gmail account you may have.

So what happens to your Google account when you graduate high school, graduate college, move from one job to another, and eventually retire? You will have built up years of emails, contacts, documents, slideshows, and much more. Is there an easy way to take all those files and all that data with you? What would be great would be a simply tool to copy all of your files to a different Google account (such as your personal Gmail account).

Google does provide an option called Google Takeout, which is nice, but has some drawbacks. Most notably, Takeout converts all your Google files into other formats, such as Microsoft Office format, so instead of transferring your files to another Google account, the files are all converted into something non-Google. Also, Takeout only exports files you own, but not files that are shared with you

And of course there is the option of copying all of your files manually. You could share all your files to a different Google account, and then make copies of them all. This can take quite a long time, although there are nice add-ons such as Copy Folder that can help with this.

Thankfully there is another option which is an easy solution in the form of a tool called GradGopher. This low cost service will copy all of your Gmail messages, Calendar entries, Contacts, and Drive files to a different Google account. See below for a step-by-step overview of how the service works.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Managing Multiple Google Accounts in Chrome

It is becoming more and more common for someone to have multiple Google accounts.

  • You have your personal Gmail account
  • Then you have your school Google Apps for Education account
  • Then you also have that Google account for the club/sport/organization you help run.

As a Google Education Trainer, I have lost count of how many accounts I have. Typically I have one, if not two, accounts for every school I work with, as well as dozens of accounts on the domains I run.

So the question is, how do you manage multiple Google accounts?

To make matters worse, there are actually several different options for handling multiple accounts in Chrome. Some are better suited for specific situations, while some are just better in general. How do you know which to use?

See below for options to manage your many Google accounts, when to use which method, and detailed directions on how do each.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

KISS and Tech Up

When it comes to technology integration we are often encouraged to think outside of the box, transform education, revolutionize the learning process, and aim for the stars. As noble and well-meaning as this is, sometimes it can have the unintended consequence of impeding the growth of educational technology in schools.

How is that possible?

This last year I had the privilege of working with several teachers over many months on technology integration projects. The plan was to explore SAMR, the 4 C’s, ISTE standards, and technology tools. Then the teachers would create a technology integrated activity for their students.

As we got closer to the date to develop and deliver the lesson, I got variations of the same concern from many of the teachers:

  • Is my project big enough?
  • Am I using enough technology tools?
  • Does this really revolutionize teaching and learning?

The teachers were stressing out that their lessons were not awesome enough to count as real technology integration. They felt intimidated and unsure and reluctant to move forward.

Seeing the problem, I tried to reassure them that they were fine. They just needed to embrace the philosophy of KISS. No, not the makeup-wearing rock band.  What I mean is the phrase “Keep it Simple, Stupid” (or “Sweetie” if you prefer to be nicer).

Read on to see why…

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Interactive Checklists in Google Docs

Checklists are a convenient and effective way to stay on track and get things done. I recall learning about their many benefits during a book study my district did on “The Checklist Manifesto” several years ago.

For our students, checklists can be used in many ways:

  • Steps in a science experiment
  • Self-monitoring of behavior
  • Mastery of subject content and standards
  • Tasks when composing and editing their writing
  • Working through a math procedure
  • And many more…

Typically we think of such checklists as printed paper documents that our students can mark on with a pencil as they complete the steps in their list. While that is perfectly fine, we can also take advantage of digital checklists. When done electronically, checklists can be collaborative, edited as needed, accessed by multiple people, and hopefully not eaten by the dog.

There are certainly a lot of mobile apps, web apps, web extensions, and websites that provide checklist tools. However, one creative way to make an interactive checklist is with Google Documents. I have always known that you can add a checkbox list to a Google Doc, but did not realize a neat trick you can do to make the checklist more interactive. Recently I learned this clever approach from Caitlin Christel, an attendee at one of my Google certification boot camps.

See below for how to use Google Documents to create interactive checklists for students.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Totally New Google Sites

Out of all the major Google tools, most people would agree that Google Sites has been the most overdue for an update. Yes, it is one of my favorite programs, and I have used it extensively to design websites, and I have created loads of training videos and guides for it (see here for details). Still though, when compared to most modern web design tools, Google Sites has fallen far behind its competition.

Google Sites actually started out its life as a product called JotSpot which Google purchased in 2006 and then finally released in 2008 as Google Sites. Over time Google has added new features to the underlying JotSpot code (such as the horizontal navigation bar) but the foundation was still a ten year old product with new options built on top. This prevented Sites from being able to act like newer web design tools with drag and drop editing, layouts that respond to mobile devices, and such.

Rather than another update, Sites needed to be rebuilt from the ground up.

And now it appears that is exactly what Google is doing! In a recent post on the Google Apps Updates blog, they have announced a “totally rebuilt” Google Sites is coming. This is fantastic news for schools, organizations, and individuals who need to create websites but were struggling with Sites lack of updates and modern features.

So what can we expect with the new Google Sites? And when can you get access to it? See below for all the details I have been able to collect on this new announcement.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

AutoCrat Version 3.0 Updates and Tutorial Video

For several years AutoCrat has been one of my favorite and most used Add-ons for Google Sheets. Just this week the latest version was released bringing new features, ease of use, and better performance.

If you are not familiar with AutoCrat it is tool that let’s you merge data from Google Sheets into Google Docs, PDFs, or even other Google Sheets. You can think of it like the Google version of mail merge in Microsoft Word, but a lot more awesome!

Common uses for AutoCrat include form letters, certificates, discipline reports, RTI forms, walk through documents, student schedules, and even “Madlib” stories.

My most common use is to generate certificates of completion for the webinars I create. After watching one of my 1-hour recorded webinars, you can take a short quiz to prove you watched the video. If you pass the quiz, then AutoCrat generates a PDF certificate of attendance to turn in to your school for one contact hour. As of the time of this writing (June 2016) it has generated over 3,000 certificates for my webinars, something I never would have been able to do if it were not automated.

If you have never used AutoCrat before, you should absolutely try it out. If you have experience with it, you will be excited to see all the new features. See the rest of the blog post below for an overview of what's new in version 3.0 and watch my detailed tutorial video on how to use AutoCrat for merging.