Friday, November 29, 2019

7 Google Product Updates to Note from November

The end of November is here. During the last month Google announced a bunch of updates to many of the products frequently used by teachers and students. I covered many of them during the month, but there were a few that I missed. And there are few updates to the original updates from earlier this month. Here are seven Google product updates to note from November.

Add Audio to Google Slides
This was probably the biggest update that Google announced in November. After years of waiting Google Slides finally has native support for adding audio to your presentations. You no longer need to use any third-party add-ons of suspect quality or other wacky work-arounds to add audio to your slides. Watch my video to see how you can add audio to Google Slides.

Smart Compose in Google Docs
Much like Smart Compose in Gmail, Smart Compose in Google Docs will try to predict what you want to write in a sentence. If the prediction is correct you can hit the tab key to complete the sentence. To use this feature you will have to register to be a part of the beta test. To register for the beta you must be a domain administrator. Read more information here.

Different Page Numbers for Different Sections of Google Docs
This is a small, but welcome update for Google Docs users. You can now specify the page numbers that apply to a section of a Google Doc instead of being stuck with the default sequence of page numbers. More details here.

Create Tours in the Web Version of Google Earth
This is a feature that we've been waiting two years to see add to the web version of Google Earth. Now you can add your own sequence of multimedia placemarks to Google Earth. Read more or watch my demo to see how it works.

A New Way to Gather Feedback in Google Sites
This was announced on November 19th but an update six days later said that this feature is on hold for most users. When it does fully roll-out Google Sites users have a new option for getting feedback through their sites. Instead of creating then embedding a Google Form, you can use a native feedback form in the footer of Google Sites. Learn more about how that works by reading this announcement from Google.

Add Collapsible Text Boxes to Google Sites
At first I didn't think too much of this update. Then I saw how much it improved the layout of some of my students' portfolios that are built in Google Sites. This has proven to be a great option for my students to use on the pages on which they're writing long blocks of text about their app development projects.

Reuse Rubrics in Google Classroom
Earlier this fall Google introduced a beta test of a rubrics feature in Google Classroom. My feedback, as well as that of many others, was that an option to reuse rubrics was needed. Google listened and added that option this week.

12 Quick Thoughts After 12 Years of Free Technology for Teachers

Yesterday marked twelve years since I started this blog. I didn't have much of clue about what I was doing. I chose the name Free Technology for Teachers because it was the height of the Web 2.0 boom and everything new seemed to be free. I wanted to try it all out. Writing blog posts about what I was finding and trying seemed like a natural thing to do. Little did I know that so many people would be interested in what I was writing. I also didn't foresee doing it for twelve years and nearly 15,000 posts. So if you'll indulge me for a moment, here are twelve quick thoughts after twelve years of blogging about educational technology.

1. I started this in my twenties and I'm still doing it in my forties.

2. Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8 have come and gone.

3. iPads came along and were supposed to revolutionize educational technology, they didn't.

4. Chromebooks came along and were supposed to revolutionize educational technology, they didn't.

5. Podcasting became popular, then lost popularity, now it's back.

6. I taught social studies, was an independent consultant, was briefly a marketing guy, and now I teach computer science.

7. My feelings about social media have gone from love to love-hate.

8. If you don't know how a company is making money, it either isn't or it's making money from your data.

9. RSS was the way that everyone was going to read blogs and websites. It turns out that email, social media, and direct visits is how most people consume media now.

10. The title "Free Technology for Teachers" has been a blessing and a curse.

11. The longer I do this, the harder I have to work to try new things that really excite me.

12. The positive comments out number the negative ones, but the negative ones are usually the ones that stay with me the longest.

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