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.

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The Getting Started Guide for Touchscreen Chromebooks in the Classroom

“The new Chromebooks are here!”

Many teachers will be saying that as their school transitions to Chromebooks for students or refreshes old Chromebooks. The new education model Chromebooks have touchscreens and convert to tablet mode. The combination of touch and Chrome OS is probably here to stay awhile. Lenovo has released a Chromebook with a screen students can literally draw on with a pencil.  There is even a just-released Chromebook tablet. David Andrade breaks down the reasons why schools may switch from iPads to Chromebook tablets for elementary students in his blog post, New tablets for Education – comparing the new Acer Chromebook Tab 10 and the new Apple iPad.

This guide is meant to help educators get started using these new Chromebooks that have both touchscreens and keyboards. Everything referenced in this post until the very end is web-based and immediately accessible upon signing in to a Chromebook. The very end of this guide suggests some tools that are great but will require district Google administrators to enable the Google Play Store.

Before you do anything, even before reading this – beg, borrow, steal, cheat, lie, simply ask, or do whatever is necessary to get your hands on a new Chromebook the second it arrives in a district warehouse.  Reading about apps and educational uses is great but nothing matches the experience of actually using the device.

On to the guide. Let’s start with sketching, jotting, and drawing on touchscreen Chromebooks.

Isn’t that straight up substitution?

Of course it is! “Substitution” has become a loaded dirty word in education. Even the most innovative teacher uses substitution in every lesson. Effective technology integration incorporates constant motion through different levels of SAMR. Jaclyn B. Stevens‘s SAMR swimming pool clearly illustrates this:

The SAMR Swimming Pool Infographic by Jaclyn B. Stevens
The SAMR Swimming Pool by Jaclyn B. Stevens of the Friday Institute. Source

As Stevens says in this video, “Just as educators work across the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, the levels of the SAMR model must also be flexible and align to what students are doing in a classroom.”

Classrooms should be places where students always feel free to quickly jot or draw something to help them process and make connections. Research suggests drawing is the most effective way to learn! Or just doodle for brain breaks. For more on the benefits of drawing for learning, please read A Simple Way to Better Remember Things: Draw a Picture from The New York Times (1/6/19).

Annotating a website or PDF for a grade is rotten. However, getting messy annotating a website or adding content to a Google Jamboard Jam to process information, give feedback, or create a digital gallery walk is different. Use these tools to help kids get messy. Encourage it.

An example of this is sketchnoting. Sketchnoting is so beneficial for kids and adults.  Sketchnotes are often created on iPads that are more expensive than Chromebooks with a paid app (Procreate). Why shouldn’t kids sketchnote on Chromebooks for free?

Sketching/Drawing/Jotting/Tool #1: Google Keep

Google Keep is a great tool for drawing on images or creating sketches. This works in the Google Keep web app:

Google Keep is great for this purpose though it is not the most robust drawing tool. I lamented there was not another Google tool for drawing (don’t get me started about the misnamed Google Drawings) until I saw this tweet from Jessica Garrigan:

Sketching/Drawing/Jotting/Tool #2: Google AutoDraw

Google AutoDraw is much more than an auto draw tool. I created the image for this blog post in AutoDraw using a touchscreen Chromebook. Watch as I demo:

AutoDraw lacks the ability to save files. Create, download, and start with a blank slate next time. Let’s hope that changes soon. It also does not have an erase tool though it has an undo button and the ability to delete elements of a sketch by selecting and deleting. For more information about AutoDraw, read these two blog posts:

Google Keep and AutoDraw do not let students sketch or annotate on top of websites. Enter the Web Paint Google Chrome extension.

Sketching/Drawing/Jotting Tool #3: Chrome Canvas

Discovered by Chrome Unboxed in December 2018, Chrome Canvas is a great Google tool for drawing. It saves images and lets students download as PNG files. I like it better than Google Keep for jotting on top of images. Additionally, each drawing tool has size and opacity sliders which are absent in Keep and AutoDraw. Users of Adobe suite mobile apps are familiar with these sliders. Check out this sketch of Gritty created by The Verge:

I’m obsessed with Gritty.

Watch as I demonstrate this great tool:

Sketching/Drawing/Jotting/Tool #4: (Annotating Websites Edition): The Web Paint Google Chrome Extension

The Web Paint Google Chrome extension is great for marking up websites.

Take advantage of this by using Web Paint with Google Keep to search the text on saved clippings from the web:

One drawback of Web Paint is it only works with what is on screen. There is no ability to scroll down the page. Robby Payne at Chrome Unboxed figured out that using Web Paint in conjunction with the FireShot extension allows for marking up an entire page and then saving it as a PDF.

Freeform Collaboration Tool: Google Jamboard

Google Jamboard is a drawing tool but its usefulness is elevated through collaboration. It is the perfect platform for student brainstorming. Google recently announced a streamlined web version of the great mobile Jamboard app. Watch as I demonstrate.

 

Does your district need some help determining the right Chromebook for students? I can help! E-mail mistermullaney@gmail.com to inquire about my consulting services!

A Drawing for Assessment Tool: Formative

Formative, found at goformative.com, allows students to draw in an assignment. The applications for this, especially in Math, are innumerable. In this simple example, I draw in a formative (Formative’s name for assignments) I created asking students to explain the Schlieffen Plan.

Schlieffen Plan Drawing in Formative

In this example, I provided students with a map to draw on. Better yet, don’t provide the map! Students can insert images themselves. Or not. Let students determine how best they can depict a concept. I made a formative with two Schlieffen Plan questions – one with a map and one without. Feel free to make a copy for yourself.

Drag-and-Drop with Instant Feedback Tool – Quizlet

Dragging-and-dropping isn’t the highest level learning activity but at least Quizlet matching gives students instant feedback. Notice what happens when I choose the wrong answer and then the correct answer:

Animated GIF of correct and incorrect answers in Quizlet matching
Incorrect, then correct. Help yourself to this French Revolution vocabulary Quizlet deck.

Writing by Hand on Touchscreen Convertible Chromebooks

This applies only to touchscreen Chromebooks that are convertible – meaning that can be used in stand, tent, and tablet form factors. Students can hand write in Google Docs, Slides, to enter a website URL, or basically anywhere they can input text. Please note this does not work if a mouse is connected to the device. Watch as I demonstrate.

Google Earth

The web version of Google Earth is perfect for touchscreen Chromebooks. It’s not just for exploring and storytelling – Google has added a lot of educational content to Google Earth Voyager. Watch as I demonstrate in this YouTube playlist of 7 short videos:

Bring Touchscreen Chromebooks to the Next Level – Android Apps!

Web apps are great but the magic of touchscreen Chromebooks is found in the Google Play Store. Great apps for education productivity, creativity, and collaboration live there including my beloved free Google Jamboard app! Here are two blog posts where I review great Android apps for education on Chromebooks:

Email your district’s Google administrator to request enabling the Google Play Store in your district’s domain. Share with them this video by Allison Mollica which explains how admins enable Play Store access and this video by Thomas Rup and Eric Lawson which explains pushing Android apps to Chromebooks.

Keep Yourself in the Chromebook Loop

More important than any tool is staying up-to-date on what’s happening with Chrome OS and education. To do this:

  • Follow the linked Twitter handles in this post. These educators share great resources for integrating technology in the classroom. Some of them are not Chromebook superfans like me. Great! Better to have a broader perspective.
  • Stay up-to-date about Chrome OS updates with the aforementioned Chrome Unboxed website.  The site is constantly publishing valuable updates and tips-and-tricks.
  • My Education Chromebook Reviews YouTube playlist includes videos that demonstrate the pluses and minuses of each model and show them in action. I will add to the playlist as reviews for new devices are published.

I hope this guide is useful. To those of you already using touchscreen Chromebooks in the classroom, what did I miss? Please comment below or tweet me, @TomEMullaney. Thanks for reading.

Collaborating With The Google Jamboard App On The Suite Talk

I was honored to speak to my friend Kim Mattina about the Google Jamboard app on her YouTube Channel, The Suite Talk.  After talking about the app and using it to collaborate, our conversation transitioned to Google Keep, a powerful tool for student feedback.

Kim, a G Suite for Education Top Contributor, is a great resource for all things G Suite. Follow her on Twitter at @The_Tech_Lady.

Bring Collaboration to the Next Level with the Google Jamboard App

When Google debuted the Google Jamboard, it seemed unlikely a $5,000 piece of hardware had any implications for education. However, Jamboard was created to facilitate collaboration and to do so, Google created an Android app and an iTunes app so collaborators can participate in a Jam remotely. The app is free and does not require the Jamboard device to work. If your students have iPads or Play Store enabled Chromebooks, they can collaborate in the app tomorrow. Owners of a Jam can invite others to collaborate, just like in other G Suite apps and Google Hangouts can occur inside a Jam.

This post is about the Jamboard app, not the Jamboard device. The device is $5,000. The app is free. Now that we have that out of the way, please continue reading and consider ways the app could be used in your classroom.

To start, have a look at this video and imagine yourself and your students doing this not on a $5,000 Jamboard, but on an iPad or Chromebook.


Looks like fun, doesn’t it? To see what this looks like on a device and not the Jamboard, have a look at me playing with the app on my Chromebook:

Peruse this ThingLink for videos showing specific Jamboard app functions:

I enjoy using the Jamboard app on my Chromebook and showing it to colleagues:

After playing with the Jamboard app, here some ideas for using the Jamboard app in the classroom:

  • Use a Jam to document a group’s research for projects. If the teacher is added as a collaborator, they can give feedback using Jamboard’s emojis and Google Keep.
  • Divvy up topics in a unit to groups in your class. Each group is responsible for creating a Jam about their topic. At the end of the unit, the class can have a Jam Gallery Walk. Additionally, new students can catch up by being added as a collaborator in each Jam. That’s a lot more fun and useful than copying notes!
  • The shape recognition tool is very useful. In addition to converting scribbles into perfect shapes, it has the ability to draw angles including perfect 90° angles!
  • Use the Google Jamboard app’s auto draw feature to make beautiful storyboards! Thank you, Louise Jones, for this idea!
  • The Jamboard app was not designed for this purpose, but I have to say it is the best Android app for jotting notes on a Chromebook. I like using Squid and the Google Keep Android app for jotting notes but Jambord is even better. Jamboard has four pens, handwriting recognition, shape recognition, and auto draw.

    Google Jamboard Pens
    Four pens, handwriting recognition, shape recognition and autodraw.

More room to jot is always available by adding a new frame to a Jam. Simply click on the frames at the top of the screen to add another one.

Create a New Frame 2
Adding a new frame to a Jam. Like creating a new page when jotting notes.

The Jamboard app even has an embedded web browser accessible when jotting notes.

Jan 4 2018 7-40 AM - Edited
Tap “+” and then the globe icon to access a web browser.

  • Jams can be used as an artistic tool. One thing I have noticed as I play with the Jamboard app – Jams are messy! That is a good thing, but it makes me pause about assessing something made in the Jamboard app as a final product. The Jamboard app is probably better used as an ungraded collaborative tool. Not grading Jams might increase student engagement and focus on learning when using them. Having said that, students using the Jamboard App can produce some beautiful art. Witness my masterpiece, Sunset at the Beach:

Screen Shot 2017-12-26 at 2.33.31 PM
Created in the Google Jamboard app.

On a more serious note, just like Google Slides can render individual slides as images and whole slide decks as PDFs, the Jamboard app allows frames to be shared as images and whole Jams to be shared as PDFs. Just click the three dots in the upper right corner of the Jam:

Save Jam as PDF or Image
Share Jams as PDFs or individual frames as images.

I hope this post has convinced you to install the Jamboard app (links in the first paragraph of this post) and give it a try. If you would like to share your ideas about the Google Jamboard app, please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney. Thank you for reading.

Google Jamboard Image: G Suite with Google Cloud

Update 1/20/18: I was honored to share collaborate with one of my favorite YouTubers, Mark from Promevo in Google Jamboard. Watch as I use the Google Jamboard app on my Chromebook in San Francisco and he uses a Jamboard in Kentucky

Update 1/24/18: Google has announced Google Jamboard is now a core G Suite service available to education customers

Update 1/30/18: I was honored to collaborate with Kim Mattina in the Google Jamboard app on The Suite Show

Five More Educational Android Apps for Chromebooks

As touchscreen Chromebooks with Google Play Store access become more common in education, Android apps will be a big part of making devices game-changers for the classroom. We are not there yet, but the future has great potential. I have blogged about five Android apps I like for education. Here are five more good ones.

Google Keep

Google Keep is the cat’s pajamas. It is great for brainstorming, to-do lists, collaboration, and feedback. Watch as I demonstrate the Google Keep Android app which comes with slightly more functionality than the web app.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Why doesn’t Google Keep’s web interface allow teachers to use their mic?
  • Webcam does not integrate for video.

YouTube

Why spend precious memory installing the YouTube app? The answer is simple – 360° video! Convertible Chromebooks act like windows into another world when viewing a 360° video in the YouTube Android app. Watch as I demonstrate:

Pros:

  • Enhanced ability when viewing 360° video.
  • Use that ability and Google Keep’s integration with Google Docs and Google Slides to give your students narrative feedback.
  • Ability to download videos.
  • The Android app works better than the web app when in tablet mode.

Cons:

  • None. The app is most valuable as a 360° video viewer and it does that job well.

Adobe Photoshop Sketch

In my previous post, I shared Adobe Illustrator Draw. That is a great tool. A more brush-centric tool is Adobe Photoshop Sketch. This app is so artsy it leaves brush strokes on the canvas! Watch as I demonstrate:

Pros:

  • Very artsy – it’s like painting without ink.

Cons:

Snapseed

Snapseed is Google’s photo editing app for Android. It has surprisingly robust features for a free Android app.

Here is another video where I play with Snapseed’s Head Pose tool:

Pros:

  • Great tool for manipulation of images – especially photos.
  • Watch what happens when you use the Head Pose tool!

Cons:

  • I can’t think of any. I’m Team Snapseed!

Science Journal

Usually, when I suggest a tool on this blog, I wholeheartedly endorse it. That is not the case with Science Journal. It’s worth sharing because it has great capability for capturing and organizing Science lab data. It debuted in Spring 2016 and it seems like Google has not been interested in it since. (Update: Google has recently published new Science Journal content. Yay!) Still, Science teachers should check out the Science Journal activities Google published in Spring 2016.

Pros:

  • Great tool for collecting and organizing Science lab experiment data.
  • Google has activities ready to go.
  • Ability to record sound.
  • Webcam integration.

Cons:

  • It is less useful on Chromebooks without a world-facing camera.
  • Google seems to have given up on it.

Thank you for reading.  Want to know if your Chromebook can run Android apps? Here is the list of Chromebooks that support Android apps. How would you use Android apps with your students? Please comment below or tweet me, @TomEMullaney.

Image sources:

Android logo (Wikimedia Commons)

Google Chrome logo (Wikimedia Commons)

Google Play logo (Wikimedia Commons)

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.