Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Two New Google Docs Features in G Suite for Education

Back in February Google added Smart Compose and Autocorrect as new features in Google Docs. However, those features were only available in Google Docs in G Suite for Business accounts. Google has now announced that Smart Compose and Autocorrect will be available in Google Docs in G Suite for Education domains.

I've been using Smart Compose and Autocorrect in two of my Google accounts since February. I'm excited that it will finally be available in my G Suite for Education domain.

Smart Compose in Google Docs works just like the feature of the same name in Gmail. As you are typing Google Docs will try to predict what the next few words of your sentence are going to be. Those predictions appear in gray text. If the prediction is correct and you want to use it, just hit the tab key to add the predicted text to your document. If the prediction is not correct, just keep typing as you normally would.

Smart Compose and Autocorrect in Google Docs in G Suite for Education is appearing in some domains right now and will be rolled-out over the next month. Currently, there is not a domain admin control over this feature, but Google's announcement states that there will be one by the start of the 2020/21 school year.

Three Ways to Make Short Audio Recordings - No Accounts Required

Since late last year when Google finally added native support for audio in Google Slides I've fielded a steady stream of questions from readers looking for suggestions on the quickest and easiest ways for kids to record audio on their Chromebooks. There are three tools that I typically recommend to those who are looking to just record short spoken audio tracks and don't require additional editing functions. Those three tools are Vocaroo, Online Voice Recorder, and Twisted Wave.

All three of these tools don't require students to have email addresses or create any kind of account in order to make a short audio recording then download it as an MP3.

I've been using Vocaroo for more than a decade. It's incredibly simple to use. Just head to the site, click the record button, and start talking. When you're finished recording hit the stop button. You can listen to your recording before downloading it as an MP3. If you don't like your recording you can create a new one by just refreshing the Vocaroo.com homepage and starting again. Here's my recent demo of how to use Vocaroo.

Online Voice Recorder
Online-Voice-Recorder.com offers the same simplicity of Vocaroo plus a couple of features that I've always wished Vocaroo had. One of those features is the ability to pause a recording in progress and resume it when I want to. The other feature is the option to trim the dead air at the beginning and end of a recording. Watch my video to see those features in action.

Twisted Wave
Twisted Wave offers many more features than either of the tools mentioned above. But at it's most basic level you can still just head to the site, launch the recorder, start talking, and then export your recording as an MP3 all without creating an account on the site. For those who are looking for a way to save audio directly into Google Drive, Twisted Wave offers that capability. Watch my short video below to see how you can use Twisted Wave to make an audio recording and save it directly to your Google Drive.

Monday, June 1, 2020

5 Ways to Edit Images in Google Slides

A decade+ ago when I started using Google Slides it was a rather bare bones alternative to PowerPoint. That is no longer the case. Today, there are tons neat little features that you can use in Google Slides to improve the appearance of your presentations. Some of those things are found in the image formatting and editing functions that are built into Google Slides.

In the following video I demonstrate five ways that you can edit your images in Google Slides. Take a look and see if there is a feature you've been overlooking when creating presentations in Google Slides.

Five Ways to Edit Images in Google Slides
1. Cropping images.
2. Adding custom borders to images.
3. Drop shadows.
4. Edit image transparency and contrast.
5. Adding Instagram-like filters.

How to Collaborate on a YouTube Channel

Like many other schools, this spring my school held our awards ceremonies virtually. A colleague and I managed the distribution of the recordings of those ceremonies. We did this by collaborating on one YouTube channel.

You can enable collaboration on a YouTube channel through the permissions settings in YouTube Studio. In the permissions you'll find options for inviting channel editors and managers. Simply enter the email address of the person you want to invite and he/she will get a notification with a link to join the channel with their assigned role.

It's important to note that if you are doing this in a G Suite for Education domain, the people that you invite as co-managers or editors on your YouTube channel should have email addresses within the same domain.

On a related note, when you are posting long videos like recordings of awards ceremonies it can be helpful to include timestamps in your video. Here's how to do that.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Month in Review - The Most Popular Posts

It's the end of May and sure was a month I'll remember for a while for a few reasons. First, we had snow on the ground as late as Mother's Day and then we temperatures in the 90s a couple of days ago. Second, as the weather improved it became quite trying to keep my students engaged in online activities for class. Third, I started the month with a modest goal for registrations for the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp and the level of interest in the event far surpassed my expectations.

As I do at the end of every month, I've compiled a list of the most popular posts of the month. Take a look and see if there's anything interesting that you missed.

These were the most popular posts of the month:
1. Use Whiteboards in Google Meet Without Screensharing
2. How to Use Kahoot in Google Classroom
3. Quickly Create Online Whiteboards for Your Students
4. Another Whiteboard Option for Google Meet Users
5. How to Create Complete Sentence Requirements in Google Forms
6. Seven Ideas for Flipgrid Activities
7. How to Convert a PDF Into a Google Document
8. Move Items from One Google Account to Another
9. How to Create a Green Screen Video Without a Green Screen
10. 5 Things You Should Never Do In a Virtual Staff Meeting

Online Summer PD Opportunities
This summer I'm hosting two online professional development courses. I'm hosting the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp three times. The June session is almost full so register soon if you want in on that session. The July sessions have more seats available.

In June and July I am hosting Teaching History With Technology. This is a five part course designed to help you develop new ways to create engaging history lessons and projects. Register now and use the discount code THWT2020.

This summer I'm working with a handful of schools and organizations to develop online professional development for teachers. If you'd like to work with me, please send me a note at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to learn more about how we can work together.

Thank You for Your Support!
Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides FreeTech4Teachers.com and the daily email digest, there are other ways to keep up with what I'm publishing. 
  • Practical Ed Tech Newsletter - This comes out once per week (Sunday night/ Monday morning) and it includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from FreeTech4Teachers.com.
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 23,000 people subscribe to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 350 Google tools tutorials.  
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has more than 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last thirteen years at twitter.com/rmbyrne
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing.