Saturday, March 2, 2019

Google Has Improved Access to G Suite Accessibility Settings

One of the new G Suite features that was announced in February was an improvement in the way you can access the accessibility settings in Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets. The accessibility settings themselves aren't new. What's new is the location of the settings. The accessibility settings are now found under the "Tools" drop-down menu in Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets.

Improving the accessibility settings of the accessibility settings is an excellent improvement for those who need the accessibility options. Based on the number of emails I get about G Suite accessibility, the previous location of the accessibility settings was not easy for a lot of teachers to find.

It's important to note that the new location of the accessibility settings has already started to appear in some G Suite accounts but will take a couple of weeks to be fully rolled-out to all users.

VR, Forms, and Storyboards - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where more snow is in the forecast! If you like to ski, snowshoe, or snowmobile it has been a fantastic winter. If not, you're probably hoping for it to end soon.

This week I had the pleasure of working with some teachers from adult education programs in Cumberland County, Maine. They were a super-fun group and I can't wait for our next meeting in April. If you'd like to have me work with your group, please send me a note at richardbyrne (at)

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. How to Use Your Own VR Tours in Google Expeditions
2. Find & Replace in Google Docs
3. My 5 Favorite Google Forms Add-ons
4. Important Changes for Those Who Follow in RSS and Email
5. An Educational Game About Animal Habitats
6. A Comparison of Blogging Services for Teachers and Students
7. Teaching Math With Storyboards

Now Booking Summer Workshops!
Summer might feel a long way away right now, but I'm already booking my summer workshop calendar. If you'd like to have me come to your school this spring (I have two May openings) or summer, please take a look at my speaking page and fill out the short form at the bottom of it.

The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is happening on July 15th and 16th. I've secured a beautiful location for it that offers lots of activities for the whole family within walking distance. Register in March and save $50! Registration is now open here.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
TypingClub offers more than 600 typing lessons for kids.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.

Friday, March 1, 2019

How to Create & Use Canned Responses in Gmail

Whether it's time for fun things like playing outside with our kids, time for the gym, or time to Netflix and chill, we all want a little more time in our day. We can't get more time, but we can use our time efficiently. One way to do that is to zip through email with the help of smart replies and canned responses in Gmail (G Suite for Edu email).

Smart Replies are those automated suggestions that appear when you're writing a response in to message in Gmail. Canned Responses are slightly different. Canned Responses are messages that you compose and then save to re-use whenever you want. Watch my new video to learn how you can create and use Canned Responses in Gmail.

How to Save Time When Adding Comments to Google Docs

This morning I showed one of my favorite time-saving tricks to a great group of adult education teachers. The "trick" is to save time when adding comments to students' Google Docs. You can do this with canned comments in Google Classroom and there are some Google Docs Add-ons that do similar things. The most straight-forward method is to write your frequently used comments as notes in Google Keep and then just copy and paste them into comments in Google Docs through the use of the side panel in Google Docs. Watch my video to learn how to save time when adding comments to students' Google Documents.

You might be wondering why I didn't just use the canned comments option in Google Classroom. The reason is that the teachers I was working with this morning didn't have access to Google Classroom.

My 5 Favorite Google Forms Add-ons

This morning I led a small workshop about creative uses for Google Forms and Google Slides. As often happens during those workshops someone asked me what my favorite Forms add-ons are. In no particular order, here are my five favorite Google Forms add-ons.

Certify'em is a Google Forms Add-on that makes it possible for you to issue automatically issue certificates to people who successfully complete your Google Form. When you enable Certify'em on a Form it will populate a couple of required fields in your Form and ask you to specify a minimum passing score. Complete those fields then write your quiz and set an answer key just as you would for any other quiz that you build in Google Forms. When students complete the quiz they will automatically receive PDF certificates in their email inboxes if they have passed the quiz. (If you want to use Certify'em to issue certificates without making people complete a quiz, just set one easy question as the only scored question).

Form Limiter
Form Limiter is an Add-on that lets you automatically stop accepting responses at a specified time or when you have reached a specified maximum number of responses. This Add-on is excellent when you need to cap the responses you need for a volunteer activity. Obviously, it's also good for imposing a time limit on your students to complete an assessment in Google Forms.

Form Recycler
formRecycler is a free Google Forms Add-on that makes it easy to reuse questions from one Google Form into another form. When you have the formRecycler Add-on installed you can access all of your existing Google Forms and then pick questions from one of those existing Forms to use in a new form. You can use formRecycler multiple times on the same form and thereby include questions from multiple existing forms in your new form.

CheckItOut is a Google Forms Add-on that makes it easy to keep track of the things that you let kids borrow from your classroom. To use CheckItOut you create a Google Form with a drop-down question that lists all of the items you want students to be able to borrow. CheckItOut will automatically create a second question in which students can check in the items that they borrowed. Watch my video to see how it works.

Choice Eliminator
Choice Eliminator is a Google Forms Add-on that lets you create a Form on which choices disappear after they have been used. For example, if I create a Google Form that has ten meeting times listed on it, once a meeting time has been selected it will disappear from the options available to subsequent visitors. Using Choice Eliminator is a good option for teachers who have personal Google Accounts, but don't have G Suite for Education accounts. Watch the following video to learn how to use Choice Eliminator.