Comparing and Contrasting Google’s Actual Drawing Apps

Google Drawings has real value for teachers and students. And it is glaringly misnamed. The tool has no way to sketch and jot. It would be a real shame if G Suite for Education had no solution for digital drawing. To learn more about the immense benefits of drawing for learning please read the following:

The good news is there are actually four Google apps that draw! Even if Google Drawings is not one of these four, it still has some great benefits that should be noted:

  • Great for tables, charts, and timelines
  • Graphic organizers
  • Hyperlink transparent shapes to make interactive image maps
  • Transparent backgrounds are great for creating logos and website favicons. I created this blog’s “ST” favicon in Google Drawings.
  • Collaboration
  • Full Google Classroom integration
  • Precise dimensions settings under “Page setup…”
  • Add alt text to images for accessibility
  • Insert Google Drawings into Google Docs (coming soon)
  • Extra space is great for notes (see image below)
A screen capture from Google Drawings showing the ability to add notes in the extra space.
The extra space to the side of the canvas in Google Drawings is very useful!
Original image source: Wikimedia Commons.

Having established the non-drawing uses of Google Drawings, let’s discuss Google’s four actual drawing apps:

  • AutoDraw
  • Chrome Canvas
  • Google Jamboard – I will discuss both the web and mobile versions because they are different.
  • Google Keep – Keep has web and mobile versions. The two versions do not differ for sketching and drawing so I will address only the web version.

AutoDraw

AutoDraw is Google’s AI experiment that predicts drawings. What a great tool! It also has a free sketch tool and text input. No login required so it is especially easy for students who struggle with signing in and passwords. Autodraw’s big drawback is that it does not save drawings. Users have to download what they create or lose it. For more about Autodraw, please watch this video.

Getting Started with Touchscreen Chromebooks blog post image.
Touchscreen Chromebooks Blog Post Image by Tom Mullaney. Created with AutoDraw.
"Welcome to the NCHS Makerspace" image created by Michelle Luhtala using Autodraw.
Welcome to the NCHS Makerspace by Michelle Luhtala. Created with Autodraw.

Chrome Canvas

Chrome Canvas is Google’s newest sketching tool. There is a lot to like here: sliders for size and opacity similar to those in Adobe Create Cloud apps, the ability to draw on an image, and a unique chalk tool. The pencil tool looks like pencil-on-paper. The marker tool becomes a highlighter when set to a low opacity. Chrome Canvas’s biggest drawback is it does not work in a web browser on iPads. For more about Chrome Canvas, please watch this video.

Richard Nixon image with quick annotations about his elections, Watergate, Vietnam, China, and the EPA.
Richard Nixon Annotated by Tom Mullaney. Created in Chrome Canvas.
Original image source: Wikimedia Commons.

Google Jamboard

The Google Jamboard web app has two big advantages over the other apps: real-time collaborative drawing and multiple pages or “frames” as they are called in the app. The app has a limited color palette compared to the others. The ability to add sticky notes is a nice benefit. The web app does not work well in browsers on the iPad. iPad users should install the Jamboard mobile app. For more on the Jamboard web app, please watch this video.

The Jamboard mobile app has those features and much more including autodraw, shape recognition, handwriting recognition, the ability to add content from Google Drive and the web, and great backgrounds including graph paper and college-ruled lined paper. I made the image for this blog post with the Jamboard app. For more information on this very powerful and fun app, please read my blog post, Bring Collaboration to the Next Level with the Google Jamboard App, or watch this video.

Notes about Shirley Chisholm created in Google Jamboard. They include a campaign poster and sticky notes that show her priorities: Civil Rights, Women's Rights, Peace in Vietnam, and Environmental protection.
Shirley Chisholm Notes by Tom Mullaney. Created in the Google Jamboard mobile app.
Original image source: Wikimedia Commons.

Google Keep

Google Keep‘s advantage over the other apps is the ability to access it inside G Suite Docs, Drawings, Sheets, Slides, and GMail. That makes it a great collaborative tool. Students can collaborate on notes and add multiple drawings to a Keep note but they will not have the real-time collaborative drawing experience found in Jamboard. Drawings can have graph paper and lined backgrounds but they do not save when the image is downloaded. Please note that drawing does not work in the web app on iPads. iPad users should install the Keep mobile app. For more about drawing in Google Keep, please watch this video.

Sketch of a house and car on a sunny day.
Sunny Day by Tom Mullaney. Created with Google Keep.

To help make sense of these drawing options, I created a table in the aforementioned Google Drawings to help compare and contrast the 4 apps. Yes, I appreciate the irony of using Google Drawings for this task.

Do you have questions about Google’s actual drawing apps? Please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney. Thanks for reading.

Advertisements

Meet Google Slides – The Ultimate Resume Creator!

Google got it wrong.

Google for Education created a free applied digital skills curriculum open to all. One vital digital skill is resume creation. Google’s curriculum includes a module on resume creation that recommends using Google Docs for this task. Google reached into the G Suite toolbox and retrieved the wrong tool. This is my argument that Google Slides, not Google Docs, is the right tool for resume creation.

I recently revamped my resume for a job search seeking an edtech coach position. I wanted the resume to achieve its purpose: to compel anyone reading it to invite me to interview. My resume needed to convey my innovative use of technology. Before reading any further, know that your resume is likely a laundry list of bullet points of duties performed at jobs. That is not compelling because everyone has those bullet lists! Please read Anthony Gold’s blog post, Forget Everything You Ever Learned to learn how to write a compelling resume. Then consider my advice for creating it in Google Slides.

Other Possible Tools

Before we look at why Google Slides is so good for resumes, let’s explore other tools I tried like Goldilocks trying three bears’ beds before landing on Google Slides:

  • The aforementioned Google Docs – For years I used Microsoft Word to create resumes. When I transitioned to G Suite, I used Google Docs for resumes. Have a look at the Google Docs resume templates:Google Docs resume templatesDo they look innovative or creative? I looked at the resume I produced in Google Docs saw nothing that told stories about creativity and technology innovation. So I tried something else.
  • Canva – I am a Canva superfan. I used one of Canva’s resume templates but stopped when I encountered a problem. Canva’s resume templates allow only a single hyperlink in a text box. I was unable to use multiple hyperlinks to tell the story of how I match a job’s skills.  A deal breaker. So I tried another web-based info-graphic tool, Venngage.
  • Venngage – I was able to create a visually appealing resume with Venngage. The editor allowed inserting more than a single hyperlink in a text box. Then I tried to download it as a PDF. I could not download a PDF with multiple hyperlinks unless I purchased a $20-a-month subscription. Additionally, the editor was somewhat cumbersome and not easy-to-use like Canva or Google Slides. Venngage was out. I considered how to recreate what I made in Venngage for free. Google Drawings was an option but it cannot create multiple pages in a single file. Each resume page would have to be a separate Google Drawings file. Then it hit me. There was a tool that could do everything Google Drawings does and more:

USE GOOGLE SLIDES!

Here is what I created:

Resume Elements

  • For the images of me at the top, I used three images of me presenting professional development and combined them using Canva‘s Twitter header template. I then added the artistic effect to the image using lunapic.com, a surprisingly robust website for adding effects and animation to images.
  • I changed the color of the sidebar to add some contrast. To ensure text and background had enough contrast, I used the WebAIM Color Contrast Checker.
  • I used color gradients in the small rectangle in the sidebar and the triangle in the lower-right corner. These were not essential, just some artistic flourishes I decided to include.

Why Google Slides is Great for Resumes

  • Google Slides default dimensions are not resume-friendly. However, it is easy to click “File” and “Page setup…” to use 8.5x11inch custom dimensions.
  • The ability to duplicate slides is essential. Right-clicking a slide in the preview panel on the left side of the editor allows the user to duplicate slides. This ensures precisely matching formatting on each page of the resume. Keep in mind that most potential employers will probably not read past page one.
  • Unlike Google Docs, it is easy to create and move text boxes, images, and shapes.
  • Google Slides is great for embedding on websites.
  • If a resume is viewed embedded on a website, adding a YouTube video could be very useful. A PDF viewed digitally will have a clickable link that opens the YouTube video in a new tab. Having a YouTube video on a resume that will be printed is probably not very effective. Use your judgment when considering YouTube videos.

One Google Slides Drawback

One thing Google Slides is missing is text-wrapping around images. That is the one advantage Google Docs has on Google Slides for creating resumes.

Some Resume Tips

I will conclude by sharing some tips about resumes.

  • Place whatever is most relevant and compelling to the job up top. For my last job search, I wanted to get a job as an edtech coach. The top of my resume shows me delivering professional development. The artistic effects communicate that I creatively use technology – a valuable skill for edtech coaching. Years ago, I applied for a Special Education position responsible for teaching multiple subjects. I listed my subject certifications at the very top of my resume. When I interviewed, the very first thing the interviewer said was, “I see you passed a lot of Praxis tests.” My resume told her I had what she needed for the position, exactly as intended! Do not lead with your education background. Only in rare circumstances will advanced degrees be the reason a resume results in an interview.
  • Do not use Comic Sans. Please just don’t.
  • Keep cover letters brief. No one has time to read that mess. Briefly summarize why you are a good fit. Concisely flesh it out on the resume. If you have more to share do so on your blog, website, or LinkedIn profile.

What do you think? Are you convinced Google is advocating the wrong tool for creating resumes? Will you adjust your applied digital skills curriculum to suggest Google Slides for resume creation? Please comment below or tweet me @TomEMullaney. Thanks for reading.

I Converted My Digital Breakouts from Classic to New Google Sites

The summer before my senior year of high school, I had to read Crime and Punishment for my AP Literature class. At first glance, the book’s 545 pages seemed an insurmountable challenge. Then I realized that if I read 10 pages a day, every day, I would complete the novel with time to spare before the first day of school. That’s exactly what I did.

A similarly daunting task presented itself when Google finally allowed Classic Sites to be converted to New Sites this spring. I had 14 digital breakouts created in Classic Sites. The Classic and New Sites platforms are very different. Simply clicking the “Try it now” button only starts the work of making a site visually appealing.

Image depicting the
Clicking “Try it now” only starts the work.

Additionally, I wanted to improve the digital breakouts as I converted them. Starting the third week of June, I set out to convert all 14 breakouts by the end of July. It took six weeks of working like Charlie when he landed a job in a mailroom on Always Sunny, but I am proud to say, much like reading Crime and Punishment 23 years ago, it is finally done. Read on to learn about the changes I made, which digital breakouts are affected, the edtech tools I used, and how I addressed accessibility.

Changes made:

  • Nicer design – Classic Google Sites rendered unattractive websites. New Sites makes beautiful websites. Classic sites did not have the option to have a banner at the top of a page, so that was the foremost design issue to address when converting to New Sites.
  • Fewer browser tabs – One of my concerns with edtech is the overwhelming amount of tabs students and teachers constantly have open in their web browsers. While I was unable to completely eradicate multiple tabs, I was able to reduce the number of tabs in most of the digital breakouts.
  • Favicons and site logos – I added a favicon and site logo (usually the same image) for each site. This avoids the generic Google Sites favicon and makes the site feel more immersive.
  • Accessibility – I regret that I did not consider accessibility when I created the 14 digital breakouts. Thank goodness I learned so much about accessibility from my colleague Lindsey Blass when I worked for SFUSD. As I converted the digital breakouts I was able to use what she taught me about color contrast, narration, and alt text to make the breakouts more inclusive.
  • Some locks have changed. For teachers who have used any of these breakouts before, please have a look to see how they have changed.
  • The URLs are all the same. One great aspect of the conversion is that no URLs change. There is no need to update links anywhere they have been published.

Digital Breakouts Updated:

Social Studies

Let’s start with a four-pack of 60’s-70s US history digital breakouts I am especially proud of:

  • Cuban Missile Crisis – The Cuban Missile Crisis was the very first digital breakout I created. I was never satisfied with it so I completely revamped it. Realizing the Armageddon Letters and Time Ghost YouTube channels told the story better than I can, I leaned heavily on their content. Another big change is the breakout is now sequential, meaning students work on one lock at a time to advance to the next lock. There are four locks in total.
  • Defeat Barry Goldwater – This is most difficult of my digital breakouts. It could be a whole class exercise or an end-of-year US II review because it focuses on the Summer of 1964, a critical time for the Civil Rights Movement and US escalation in Vietnam. Warning: I did not reduce the number of tabs in this breakout. There are a lot of them.
  • Shirley Chisholm: Unbought, Unbossed, & Unlocked – This digital breakout tells the story of the first Black woman to run for president – Shirley Chisholm. It broke my heart when beta testers told me they did not know about her. US II teachers: if you try just one of my digital breakouts with your students, please make it this one!
Image links to the Shirley, Chisholm, Unbought, Unbossed, & Unlocked! digital breakout.
US II Teachers: Please use this digital breakout!
  • Richard KNICKSon – A New York Knicks-themed digital breakout. Why the Knicks? Because they’re my favorite team and they won their only two NBA championships when Nixon was president!
  • Other Social Studies digital breakouts I updated include Escape the Guillotine (French Revolution), Ratify the Bill of Rights, Decide the 1800 Election (Alexander Hamilton), Sell World War I to the American Public, and Liberate Paris (middle school version) (high school version).

    Math

    • Combine Like Terms & Save Halloween – This very popular breakout is now more user-friendly.
    • Liberate the Sphero – A good breakout for reviewing broad concepts with 7th and 8th-grade students or to introduce Spheros and digital breakouts. to Math teachers.
    • Escape to Summer Vacation – Another broad review for 7th and 8th-grade Math. This breakout is much less complicated now and uses fewer browser tabs.

    English Language Arts

    EdTech Tools Used:

    I used a number of tools to improve these digital breakouts:

    Image links to a virtual tour of the White House I created for the Richard KNICKSon digital breakout.
    Click this image to view the tour.
    • EdPuzzle EdPuzzle adds questions to YouTube videos. It also crops YouTube videos. New Google Sites now allows for embedding external tools so EdPuzzle is fair game. I wish it rendered perfectly with the next tool.
    • ThingLink ThingLink is the go-to weapon in the fight against multiple browser tabs. YouTube videos, Google Slides, and Google Forms render perfectly on ThingLink images – with no need to open new tabs. If only EdPuzzles did too! Escape to Summer Vacation benefited greatly from ThingLink. ThingLink also a video component. I used that in Unbought, Unbossed, & Unlocked. I wish it also cropped videos.
    • Google Drawings – I replaced Google Drawings hotspot image maps with ThingLink images because they do not open new tabs for YouTube, Google Slides, and Google Forms. I still used Google Drawings to create favicons (512×512-pixel dimensions) because it produces transparent images.
    Animated GIF demonstrating how to click the 3 dots in the Google Sites editor to add a site favicon
    Click the 3 dots in the Google Sites editor to add a favicon.

    Additionally, I used Google Drawings for those times when I did not like the options my chosen Google Sites theme generated for section backgrounds.

    Create a Google Drawing with 800×200 pixel dimensions and use it as an image for the section background. Or just make a copy of this Google Drawing and change the color as needed.

    Google Sites Section Style options: Regular, Emphasis 1, Emphasis 2, Image
    Don’t like the section background options? Use Google Drawings to create the background you want and use it as an image.

  • LunaPicLunaPic is a great website for adding artistic effects to images. Ignore the 1997 web design – the site is actually very powerful. And it’s free. I used LunaPic to manipulate the site banners for Cuban Missile Crisis, Decide the 1800 Election, and Liberate the Sphero.
  • Canva Canva is another wonderful tool for manipulating images. It is a freemium site. I use the free version. Use either the YouTube thumbnail template or set 767×280 pixel custom dimensions to make a Sites banner. I used Canva to make the site banner for Sell World War I to the American Public and the Eiffel Tower ThingLink images in Liberate Paris (middle school version) (high school version).
  • SoundtrapThe Soundtrap mobile app is great for recording quick sound clips. It works on any Play Store enabled Chromebook. I detail how I used sound clips in the Accessibility section.
  • Google Forms – Classic Google Forms are still more customizable for background colors and fonts. I did not convert any of my classic Forms to new. Google recently announced that classic Forms will migrate to the new editor soon. I hope this does not change the fonts and colors on these forms because…
  • FontFace Ninja Google Chrome Extension – The FontFace Google Chrome extension is great for identifying fonts on websites. I used it to match the fonts in my classic Google Forms to the fonts in Google Sites themes. Please note: this extension does not work well with the Google Sites editor. I often clicked “Publish” before sites were complete so I could use Fontface Ninja to identify fonts in the “view published site” version.
  • Colorzilla Google Chrome Extension – The Colorzilla Google Chrome extension grabs the hex code of a color on a website. That color can then be used in components of a digital breakout such as Google Forms and Google Slides.
  • Accessibility:

    • WebAIM Color Contrast CheckerThe WebAim Color Contrast Checker website details the contrast between any two colors using hex codes. If colors don’t have enough contrast, the site has clickable levers to adjust a color until there is enough contrast. I used this to ensure text and background had enough contrast in Google Forms and Sites.
    • Narration in Tour Creator – Add audio to points of interest in Tour Creator. When I discovered this, I was excited!
    • Alt text for images in Google Sites – One final tip for accessibility – add alt text to images so students with screen readers know what an image depicts. Click the image to add alt text:
    Animated GIF depicting adding alt text to an image in Google Sites
    Click the image to add alt text.

    Thank you for reading. I hope these digital breakouts are useful for your classroom or better yet, inspire you to create your own. Please comment below, tweet me @TomEMullaney, or email me (mistermullaney@gmail.com) if you have questions, need hints, or notice a mistake.

    Collaboration in G Suite – An Overview

    G Suite for Education is a great platform for giving students feedback on their work. The apps in G Suite are also great for facilitating student collaboration.  Let’s look at how teachers can use G Suite for student collaboration.

    A Quick Note

    This post is meant for teachers who are almost proficient with or just learning G Suite. Additionally, this post contains nothing about add-ons, extensions, coding, or anything extra. Strictly G Suite.

    Sharing (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

    G Suite allows sharing in which collaborators can receive edit access.

    Give a collaborator edit access
    Give a collaborator edit access

    Collaborators can also receive “Can comment” access that allows for commenting in a doc, spreadsheet, presentation, or drawing.

    Give a collaborator comment access
    Give a collaborator comment access

    Email Collaborators (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

    Email collaborators is a great way for collaborators to communicate about a file they are working on. The person initiating the conversation need not open Gmail. They also get to choose the exact collaborators they want to send a message to. Click File>>>Email collaborators… to use this function.

    "Use

    Assign Action Items (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

    Use the comment function and type a “+” or “@” with a collaborator’s email address to assign them an action item. That pushes an email to their inbox telling them they have been assigned an action item.

    Assign an Action Item using Comments.
    Assign an Action Item using Comments.

    Suggesting Mode (Works in Docs)

    In the Google Docs editor, notice the pencil in the upper-right corner. Click it and choose “Suggesting” in the drop-down menu.

    Suggesting Mode in the Google Docs editor.
    Suggesting Mode in the Google Docs editor.

    Make edits. They appear as suggestions.

    Suggesting Mode in Action
    Suggesting Mode in Action

    Collaborators can approve or reject suggestions by checking “✔️” or “✖️.”

    Collaborators can accept or reject suggestions.
    Collaborators can accept or reject suggestions.

    Version History (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

    Version history is a great way for teachers and collaborating students to keep track of ongoing collaborations. Ever wonder which member of a group made a contribution to a G Suite file? Version history reveals all. Click File>>>Version history to access a detailed history of all edits to a G Suite file. Version history allows editors to restore a version. This is a great way to save the day if one collaborator has made many incorrect edits to a G Suite file/

    Accessing Version History in Google Docs.
    Accessing Version History in Google Docs.

    Differentiation in Google Classroom

    Let’s conclude with an easy way for teachers to turbo-charge collaboration in Google Classroom. Any post (announcement, question, or assignment) can be shared only with specific students even though the default is set to all students in a class. Have a look at how it works from Google’s The Keyword blog:

    Google Classroom Differentiation
    Google Classroom Differentiation

    Teachers can use this to facilitate collaboration in two ways:

    1. Create a post that shares files only with group captains. Each group captain can then share their files with their group members.
    2. Create posts only for groups. This is not that difficult because of the reuse post feature. Use it to use the same post for each group with slight adjustments for each group.

    For more information on differentiation in Google Classroom, please watch this video.

    The Future of Collaboration in G Suite – Google Jamboard

    If your district uses iPads or Play Store enabled Chromebooks, your students can use the Google Jamboard app right now. This online collaborative whiteboard is the new frontier in G Suite collaboration.  Have a look at me demonstrating it on my Chromebook. As you watch, please note – I now know what the lasso tool does. It selects elements on the screen, resizes, and moves them. It’s actually very useful.

    Thank you for reading. If you would like to share your thoughts about collaboration in G Suite with me, please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney.

    The G Suite logo I used in the image for this blog post.

    Feedback for Students in G Suite – An Overview

    Teachers and students in districts that use Google for Education have access to a free suite of apps, G Suite, to create and publish. But why use G Suite? Why not Microsoft, pen-and-paper, or go full tactile and have students use typewriters? The reason to use G Suite is feedback – collaboration too, but that is a separate blog post!

    A Quick Note

    This post is meant for teachers who are almost proficient with or just learning G Suite. Additionally, this post contains nothing about add-ons, extensions, coding, or anything extra. Strictly G Suite.

    What is so special about feedback?

    One of the most valuable interventions teachers can use with students is feedback. According to Hattie and Timperley (2007) feedback is vital:

    …Feedback is one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement…The feedback that students receive from their teachers is also vital. It enables students to progress towards challenging learning intentions and goals.

    – Visible Learning

    Marianne Stenger shared research tips for providing students meaningful feedback in Edutopia. Number 2 on the list? The sooner the better. That’s where G Suite comes in. Here is a quick-and-dirty look at using G Suite to give students immediate feedback.

    Comments (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

    Comments are a great way to give students immediate feedback as they work in G Suite. Select text or an image. There are three ways to insert a comment:

    Demonstration of 3 Ways to Insert a Comment in the Google Docs Editor

    Use either of these methods and type a comment:

    Animated GIF of a comment inserted into a Google Doc

    Comments are even better when an editor is tagged in them. This sends an email to their Gmail. Tag an editor by typing “+” or “@” followed by their email address.

    Animated GIF of an editor tagged in a comment

    Comment boxes serve as spaces where teachers and students can converse. Here teachers and peers can give feedback about work.

    Screen capture of a discussion in a Google Docs comment

    Comments “disappear” when they are resolved. The good news is they never truly disappear. The “Comments” button in the upper right of the editor keeps a record of them. This is great for keep track of all feedback students receive, whether it is from teachers or peers.

    Demonstration of Comments history in Google Docs

    Feedback in Google Classroom

    Teachers can add a private comment to any assignment in Google Classroom. This is what it looks like as a student:

    Private comment feedback from a teacher in Google Classroom

    Teachers can also give feedback for students’ answers when they reply to questions in Google Classroom:

    Feedback on a student's reply to a question in Google Classroom

    A nice aspect of feedback in Google Classroom is that it keeps track of the number of private feedback comments exchanged between student and teacher. What a great way to document the amount of feedback provided to a student.

    Google Classroom keeps track of the feedback comments exchanged between teacher and student

    Google Keep (Works in Docs, Drawings and Slides)

    Google Keep integration is a great way to give feedback in Docs, Drawings, and Slides. One way to do this is to have comments ready to go in a Google Keep note, then copy-and-paste them into comments.

    Additionally, Google Keep can be used to give students longer-form narrative feedback in Docs, Drawings, and Slides. To make the most of this strategy, create a label for each student and each assignment in Google Keep. That way, feedback can be organized by assignment and by student.

    In Docs:

    In Drawings:

    In Slides:

    Google Forms (Response Validation and Quiz Mode)

    Response validation is a great way to give students a question they work on until they get correct. I love using Response Validation for digital breakouts. Simply use short-answer questions in Google Forms, click the three dots, and choose Response Validation.

    Screen capture of Response validation in Google Forms

    This is a great strategy for a math problem – students receive an error message until they type the correct answer. They know immediately if they are correct or wrong – instant feedback!

    Animated GIF of response validation in Google Forms

    Error messages (the red text above) are a great way to scaffold for students as they work on finding an answer.

    Here I demonstrate to use Response Validation:

    Quiz Mode is another good way to give students feedback in Google Forms.  Quiz mode allows teachers to give different feedback for correct and incorrect answers. It also allows for links to be added to answer feedback, meaning students can be directed to a resource to re-learn questions they answered incorrectly. Watch as I demonstrate:

    Two G Suite Apps That Are Not Great for Student Feedback – (Forms?! and Sites)

    Didn’t I just discuss ways to use Google Forms to give students feedback? Yes, I did. Forms is great for giving feedback when they answer forms their teachers create. However, when students create Google Forms, there is no good way for teachers to give feedback inside of Google Forms. The same holds true for the Google Sites (still called New Sites). As much as I love Google Sites, I wish there was a way teachers and students could exchange feedback inside its editor.

    If you would like to share your thoughts with me, please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney. Thank you for reading.

    The G Suite logo I used in the image for this blog post.

    Why This Teacher Loves Canva

    why-this-teacher-loves-canva-blog-post-splash-image

    I sat in an eighth-grade math teacher’s classroom, working on problems she shared with her students using Mathspace. I do not usually enjoy multi-step math problems but found myself delighted and completely engaged. Reflecting on it later, I realized a significant part of the experience was Mathspace’s sleek, modern design. I like Google Classroom more than LMSs in part because of its beautiful design but it took my Mathspace experience to realize an important rule when creating digital learning experiences for students:

    Design Counts!

    If we want students to engage in digital lessons, we owe it to them to make learning materials visually appealing. Personally, I enhance imagery to make Google Sitesdigital breakouts, and YouTube thumbnails that look good and hook students. Canva is a great tool for teachers and students to create imagery that adds beauty to their creations.

    Making an image in Canva is easy. Users can create images with template dimensions such as Facebook and Twitter posts, and, my favorite, YouTube thumbnails. Additionally, users can set custom dimensions such as 800 x 200 (Google Classroom images) and 767 x 280 (Google Sites banner images):

    The Wikimedia Commons is a great source for copyright-friendly images to jazz up a lesson. Here is how to easily upload them into the Canva editor:

    canva-inserting-an-image

    Canva lets teachers make images more dramatic or cheerful with Instagram-like filters:

    canva-image-filters

    A great tool to use in conjunction with Canva is the Colorzilla Google Chrome extension. It allows users to grab any color they see in an image and use it to make more elements. Additionally, Canva’s transparency tool is another way for amateurs to become instant graphic artists:

    Canva is a great tool for students to use their creativity. My colleague Cristie Watson had students create six-word memoirs in Canva which inspired me to make my own:

    Teachers looking for more ways to incorporate Canva into instruction should look at their lesson plans as well as tutorials and design resources.

    There two small drawbacks. I use the free version of Canva so I cannot make images with transparent backgrounds. That is why I made this site’s favicon in Google Drawings. Additionally, images can only be cropped into rectangles, unlike Google Drawings which allows users to crop with different shapes. These drawbacks make Google Drawings a better tool for making digital badges.

    We want our students engaging in the 4Cs in our classrooms. That engagement becomes inevitable when we engage in them ourselves. Canva is a great tool for tapping your inner creativity and drawing it out of students too.

    Author’s Note: I have not been compensated for writing this. I have not collaborated with Canva. They were unaware I that I worked on this post.