Two of this month’s Google updates

Google Updates

Every month tweaks and changes occur in one or more of our Google apps. Here are two of this month’s.

Create meeting notes in Google Calendar. Available starting in late October, quickly start and share a meeting notes document for your Calendar events.

 

Add image watermarks in Google Docs. You can now add image watermarks directly into Google Docs.

 

Meet OrbitNote (formerly the Texthelp PDF Reader tool)

The TextHelp PDF Reader has officially been reborn as OrbitNote!

Earlier this summer, the Texthelp PDF Reader was updated and became OrbitNote. This update included a new look & easier onboarding. P-CCS students & staff have access to all the PREMIUM features of OrbitNote detailed below.

If you’re not familiar with it yet, OrbitNote allows staff & students to transform and interact with PDFs and digital documents in a completely different way. It helps to create an accessible, dynamic and collaborative space that works for everyone.

You & your students can use OrbitNote to:

      • -Collaborate in real-time within digital documents
      • -Read text, including math & science equations, aloud with easy-to-follow dual color highlighting
      • -Type text on top of your PDFs with the Text feature
      • -Highlight and extract information with colored highlighters
      • -Add text and voice comments or use pushpins for helpful hints or instructions
      • -Use freehand or shape drawing to scribble and draw on your digital documents
    And more!

There is NO ACTION required for students or staff who were already using the PDF Reader; the new OrbitNote extension auto-updated. Students and staff may have to update permissions with the first use of the new tool.

Staff who have not used the Texthelp PDF Reader in the past will need to install the extension here.

For more information about using OrbitNote, including Canvas LMS integration, go to the RW4G@PCCS website: https://bit.ly/PCCS-OrbitNote

The new OrbitNote Quick Reference Guide is available here.

Videos: https://text.help/orbitvids
Technical Support: https://support.texthelp.com

You might also want to check out this video of OrbitNotes used in Canvas and/or a comprehensive overview of many of TextHelp’s features:

 

 

OrbitDoc (now OrbitNotes) used in Canvas

 

Some upcoming changes to students’ online access and experience

Googel Zoom

We’d like to alert you to two online services we use (Zoom and Google) who are enforcing changes to the student experience in the coming school year.  In June we posted about Google’s upcoming age-based changes taking effect and have re-posted our information below with a bit more elaboration.

ZOOM meeting changes

This summer Zoom announced a policy change that will be going into effect in a few weeks that prohibits any student from having a Zoom account associated with a K-12 educational institution. This is being done in part to align their terms and conditions since people under the age of 16 aren’t otherwise permitted an account (up until now those under 16 had only been permitted under the “School Subscriber” terms within Zoom for Education accounts) and in part done to increase the security of meetings. Their new solution is called external authentication, which allows institutions to have an increased level of security without having students in their account.  Students will be able to join Zoom meetings safely and securely without the use of a Zoom account and will simply authenticate for meeting access using their district Google account. Some FAQs they have shared are posted below.

Will Breakout Rooms work if my students do not have Zoom accounts?
Yes, you can still use Breakout Rooms as usual. If you would like to pre-assign students to Breakout Rooms, you will need to upload a CSV file with the details .

Will my guest speakers or teacher be able to join a meeting?
Any external guests will not be able to join the meeting unless that specific party has an authorized account in your SSO Identity Provider.

How is this different from standard Zoom/SSO Authentication?
This is authenticating users upon joining a meeting and does not create a Zoom account.

Can I pull a report of the students and have accurate attendance information?
Yes, all student’s names will be documented accurately with their associated email address.

[We had a virtual meeting with our account representative last month to discuss these upcoming changes and among other questions asked about the ability for users to add their personal pronouns. While they said that it was possible, it would have to be mapped via a field in Google since Zoom accounts were no longer going to be associated with our students. At this point, we’re not in a position to set up that mapping, but are looking into other options.]

Safer learning with Google for Education

  • Google is launching a new, age-based setting to control their app experience for users that goes into effect next month. See this support page for more detail. [Since we don’t have a way to group students by their age in our admin console, these settings will apply to ALL of our students, from our youngest to any students at PCEP and Starkweather that might be 18 or older during their time in district.]
    • After September 1, 2021, students will see changes in their experience across Google products.  For example, after September 1, students in K-12 domains can view YouTube content assigned by teachers, but they won’t be able to post videos, comment or live stream using their school Google account. More specifically, our students’ district YouTube accounts won’t have access to or be able to…
      • Create channels, playlists, stories, shorts, or upload videos
      • Watch or create live stream events
      • See or post comments
      • Participate in live chat
      • Use apps, including YouTube Go, YouTube Music, YouTube Studio, YouTube TV, and YouTube VR
    • After September 1, 2021, students will see changes in their experience when signed into Chrome.  For example, after September 1, to ensure a safer web browsing experience for K-12 institutions, SafeSearch and SafeSites will be on by default, and Guest Mode and Incognito Mode will be off by default.

Some Updates Coming to Google Workspace for Education

Workspace changes

Google regularly updates/changes their Workspace apps. To follow their launched release changes, visit HERE. To check out details on planned release changes, visit HERE. In no particular order, some recently launched or expected release changes to note include:

File / Video Security Updates

  • Some shared files in your Google Drive will require using a URL that contains a resource key. This security update is being applied to some files in Google Drive to make sharing links more secure. This change will impact users who haven’t previously viewed a file that you’re sharing. As an end-user, this shouldn’t change anything for you other than the link that you initially share if you use the “anyone with the link” option to share a file. This change will be implemented beginning July 26th with full enforcement on and after September 13, 2021.
  • Videos in your YouTube account that were uploaded prior to January 1, 2017 and were marked as “unlisted” will be changed to “private” on July 23rd. You can revert them back to “unlisted” after the 23rd. Read more about this change here. This update doesn’t affect videos uploaded after January 1, 2017.
Google Forms
  • Twenty new font choices are being added to Google Forms.
  • The settings menu is going to be revamped to “simplify” the application of settings.
Google Docs
  • Improved revision history – To see who added or modified a portion of your document, simply highlight the text, right click and select “see editors.” This is so much quicker and easier than digging through revision history!  Show editors
  • Create interactive checklists in Google Docs. There’s a new checkbox option that you can add in place of bullet points in Google Docs. This is available now. See screenshot below for an example.  See this support page as well. Soon we will be able to assign checklist action items to other people and these action items will show up in their Google Tasks (as a reminder, browse to https://mail.google.com/tasks/canvas and login with your Google account. This is a full screen view of your Google Tasks.)
Google checklist
  • Google introduced the idea of a “smart chip” to demonstrate that Docs is more than just a page of text. Smart chips allow you to link to files, people, and events in your document. Just type the @ symbol and tag a person, file, or calendar event.
  • Coming soon…Pageless documents – Unless you are planning to print a document, there is no reason to limit yourself to 8.5×11. Google Docs now supports a “pageless” view that will automatically reflow text to fit the size of the screen you are using. If you do need to print, you can always switch back to the traditional view.

    Emoji reactions in Docs – Starting this fall you will be able to add emoji reactions to portions of a document, a quick way to provide feedback without the need to leave a full comment.

Safer learning with Google for Education

  • Google is launching a new, age-based setting to control their app experience for users. See this support page for more detail.
    • After September 1, 2021, students who are under 18 will see changes in their experience across Google products.  For example, after September 1, students designated as under 18 in K-12 domains can view YouTube content assigned by teachers, but they won’t be able to post videos, comment or live stream using their school Google account.
    • After September 1, 2021, students who are under 18 will see changes in their experience when signed into Chrome.  For example, after September 1, to ensure a safer web browsing experience for K-12 institutions, SafeSearch and SafeSites will be on by default, and Guest Mode and Incognito Mode will be off by default.

Google Practice Problems

multiplying fractions practice problem results

If you or your students are looking for practice and immediate feedback, look no further than Google. For example, if you type “FOIL practice problem” in the Google search bar, students and teachers can find topic explanations and practice problems right on the results page. See the image below for sample results from such a search.

image of Google results
Students that need help can get a quick overview of the topic and try several practice problems with immediate feedback.

These particular problems are sourced from ck-12, a reputable open-education resource.

Showing Ck-12 affiliation

Other topics you search for may come up with practice problems from other recognizable resources like Kahoot!

multiplying fractions practice problem results

This can be a quick resource for students that need some extra support or are studying for upcoming tests. Math and science topics seemed to be most successful in getting results.

Exciting Google Updates

No joking, there are exciting updates that have come to popular Google tools.

First, Version History is finally available on Jamboard! Now, if you or a student accidentally clear a frame, you can easily restore it. Also, if you re-use a Jamboard with different classes throughout the day, you no longer need to create a version for each class. You can name each version and restore the original. If you need some ideas for how to use Jamboard, check out these great templates for SEL activities. For a quick video on how to use Version History, check out this video.

Second, when you click present on a Google Slides presentation you will have a cleaner menu for advancing slides. The old version was rather big and had a tendency to get in the way. Below is the new menu in the bottom, left corner. If there are other controls you need to access, click the “More Actions” option (three dots, snowman, TimBits).

new menu image

Highlights from the March Google for Education Newsletter

Google teacher center

issue 37 highlights include:

Some of the offerings available through the Google Teacher Center, including tips on their various apps and the option to sign up for their 8-week email training series that delivers video tutorials to your inbox every Tuesday on core Google tools. Lessons take less than 10 minutes to complete (choose Education Fundamentals).


Designed as an entry point into the wealth of resources, Learn with Google Arts & Culture highlights subject related content including lesson plans, stories, videos, high resolution images, 3D models, and more from museums around the world. Check it out!


The latest installment of the Black History and Culture project celebrates U.S. Black artists, music makers, and pop culture icons. Plus, check out seven new downloadable lesson plans covering history, music, politics, and sports.


Discover Kandinsky’s life, art and synesthesia with the Centre Pompidou. You can ‘listen’ to one of his paintings or project his works into your home in AR. A lesson plan can be used in class or given to students to work through.

Some links to check out and upcoming Google updates

summary of Google Drive updates

John Sowash’s monthly EDU newsletter always lists ten or more links he briefly describes and commends for educators to check out. Some recent ones he’s called out are:

  • Virtual games from Arts & Culture – “Play with Arts & Culture” – a collection of interactive games that make art, culture and history accessible in a fun and educational way. In one, challenge your students to complete a virtual jigsaw puzzle. It’s fun and the whole class can participate!
  • Panopto screen recording – this free screencasting tool offers some unique features like the ability to record from multiple cameras and replace your background.
  • Dino QR codes – The Chrome browser now has a built-in QR code creator with a cute dino included! No need for a Chrome extension, just click the URL bar and look for the QR code symbol! Jeremy Badiner created a great guide as well.
  • Get to know the student behind the mask – this is a really nice blog post by 5th grade math teacher Becky Thal expressing the importance of connecting with students on a personal level.
  • Mindset Moment with Andrew J. Canlé – these quick videos communicate positive ideas in a short, entertaining format that are perfect for discussion questions or brain breaks.
  • Link Lock – password protect any link with this free, simple web utility.

On February 17th Google announced several updates for Google Workspace for Education. John’s newsletter has organized some of them into infographics shown below.

FOR CHROMEBOOKS….

The screen recording updates are very exciting, encouraging students to press record for formative and summative assessments which can be very powerful and now more easily done on a Chromebook! Stay tuned to see if this will also allow students to record their screen via Canvas Studio.

summary of Chromebook updates

 

FOR GOOGLE DRIVE….

There are also several updates apparently coming soon to Google Drive. The two that will most likely impact students and teachers are Form draft responses and revision history in Jamboard. In Google Forms, students will be able to stop and return to a form at a later date and time. Please note this is set to launch, “later in 2021” so do not plan to utilize this functionality just yet. One of the biggest frustrations with Jamboard has been the fact that frames can be easily removed and those changes are very difficult to track. Soon, it will be much easier to track changes and revert to previous versions in Jamboard.

summary of Google Drive updates