Monday, March 14, 2016

Three Google Slides Features New Users Often Ask About

Last week I published a post answering three questions that new Google Docs users frequently ask. That post turned out to be quite popular so I'm following up this week with the answers to three questions that new Google Slides users frequently ask. Here are three questions that I frequently hear from new Google Slides users.

1. What if I want a copy of the slides in case the internet connection in my classroom isn't working?
There are two solutions to this problem. First, you can download your slides as a PowerPoint file. To do that simply select "download as" then select "Microsoft PowerPoint" from the "File" drop-down menu while viewing your Google Slides. 

The other option for accessing your slides without an internet connection is to enable offline access for your Google Drive account on your computer. To enable offline access, open the gear icon in the upper-right corner of your Google Drive dashboard. Then select "settings" and check the "Offline" option. (Please note that it enabling offline access is not recommended on a shared computer). 

2. Can I insert videos that are not on YouTube?
Unfortunately, Google Slides only supports the use of YouTube videos at this time. That said, you can use unlisted YouTube videos in your slides. What that means is that if you have a video of your own that you want to use in your slides you can upload it to YouTube, mark it as unlisted, then insert the link to your video into your Google Slides. 

3. How do I add transitions/ animations to my slides?
This is the question about Google Slides that I am asked more than any question. There are two ways to add transitions between slides. First you can simply right-click on a slide in the the slide navigator on the left side of your screen. When you right-click on a slide you will see a menu appear. In that menu there is an option to "change transition." Selecting "change transition" will open a new menu to the right of your slides. That menu will let you choose a transition to apply to your slides. The other way to open the transitions menu is to select "transition" from the menu of options appearing across the top of  your slide editor. 

The animation options appear in the same menu as transitions. Open the transitions menu the click on an object in your slides to animate it. Once you have selected an object on a slide you will see a menu of animation options appear on the right side of your slide. 

Topics like this one and many more will be covered during this summer's Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp. Chromebook Camp is designed for people who are new to using Google Apps and Chromebooks in school. The camp will also be valuable for technology coaches and administrators who are looking for tips on training teachers in their schools. 

Lucidpress Adds New Video, Font, and Download Options for Creating Multimedia Documents

Lucidpress is a great tool for collaboratively creating multimedia documents. In the past I have described it as offering the best of Apple's Pages combined with the best of Google Documents. Through Lucidpress you and your students can collaboratively create documents that incorporate videos and images.

This morning I received an email from Lucidpress announcing some new features that students and teachers will like. First, you can now import videos from Vimeo to use in your documents. Previously, Lucidpress only supported YouTube videos. Second, there are new font style and size options available to use. Finally, you can now allow viewers of your documents to download them as PDFs.

The process of creating a document on Lucidpress can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. To get started you might stick with the basics of moving text and pictures around on the poster by just dragging and dropping. There are options for layering images with differing amounts of transparency, image cropping tools, and font customization options in each Lucidpress template. As mentioned above, you can also add videos into your projects (obviously they only play when viewed online).

You can use your Google Account to sign into Lucidpress and you can use items stored in your Google Drive account in your Lucidpress documents. Lucidpress has commenting and sharing features that are similar to Google Drive too.

Applications for Education
Lucidpress is free for teachers and students (scroll to the bottom of the pricing page for information about access as an educator). Lucidpress could be an excellent tool for students to use to collaborate on creating flyers for school events, to create a collage showcasing a highlights of research, or to design a cover for an ebook.

PrepFactory Helps Students Prepare for the SAT & ACT

PrepFactory is a free service that offers excellent SAT and ACT preparation activities. The site offers free guides to SAT and ACT strategy along with a plenty of review activities to help students sharpen their skills and knowledge before taking the ACT or SAT.

PrepFactory recently launched a new design. The new design heavily emphasizes skills and strategy. In the new design when students sign into their free PrepFactory accounts they are greeted by an overview road map. Students select a test and a test section to begin learning. In each test section overview there are strategy videos followed by a series of five practice questions. Each video is roughly five to ten minutes long. Completing the practice exercise after each video should take students another ten minutes.

After students have completed the strategy tutorials in PrepFactory they can move on to playing review games. (Students can also play these games without completing the strategy tutorials, but that is not recommended).

Applications for Education
One of the better ways to prepare for a test is to review small chunks frequently. PrepFactory provides students with a good review system that breaks SAT and ACT review into bite-sized modules for each of the topics on the tests; each module contains a 3-5 minute video, notes on the video, and a five question video review quiz.

The modules help to identify problem areas for students. PrepFactory also provides tools to allow teachers to manage their classes by keeping track of how many modules their students have completed, and whether or not they've mastered strategy tips and tricks related to the SAT and ACT.

Disclosure: PrepFactory is an advertiser on