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:
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.”
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?
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
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:
Watch as I demonstrate this great tool:
Sketching/Drawing/Jotting/Tool #4: (Annotating Websites Edition): The Web Paint Google Chrome Extension
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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 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.
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.
The Jamboard app even has an embedded web browser accessible when jotting notes.
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:
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:
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 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.
Ability to add voice recordings using the device’s mic.
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:
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.
Great tool for collecting and organizing Science lab experiment data.
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.
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:
Use either of these methods and type a comment:
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.
Comment boxes serve as spaces where teachers and students can converse. Here teachers and peers can give feedback about work.
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.
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:
Teachers can also give feedback for students’ answers when they reply to questions 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 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.
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!
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.