Saturday, August 2, 2014

New Google Apps and Google Docs Updates for Your Classroom!

Google has recently released a new set of fantastic features that extend your Google Drive and Google Apps experience.  I've taken a few minutes and listed them out here for you, so you can be ready for them before classes begin in September!

Google Docs Updates:
Edit Microsoft Office files in Google Drive

My favorite new feature is the ability to open Word, Excel and PowerPoint files -- natively!  Because sometimes people send you files and you need to be able to open them, make some edits, and send them back. If they don’t use Docs, Sheets and Slides it can be a challenge. With the latest update from Google Drive, this is no longer an issue because both the web and mobile apps for Docs, Sheets, and Slides let you edit Office files—without conversion—so you can now edit and send back files in their original format.  Sweet!

Suggested Edits

This new feature is great for collaborative work on Google Docs. Before, when you share a Google document with your collaborators and grant them the editing rights they can edit anything in it. But with "Suggested Edits" you, as the owner of the document, can control this editing process by allowing collaborators to make only suggestions which you can either accept or reject. This new feature is not available on Google Docs for mobile yet, but look for it in the near future.

Google Slides Updates:
Widescreen Format
Google now allows a widescreen view of presentations. Now when you try to make a new presentation you will have a widescreen where you can get a ton of new space to fill with words, charts, tables or even a simple, beautiful image. You can also change the size of your slides using the pull down menu in the theme chooser, or by visiting Page setup in the File menu. Widescreen presentation are a good fit for TV or monitor.

Editing the Master Slide

This functionality allows users to change customize the theme of their presentations as they like. can now easily tailor how content appears on every slide by selecting "Edit master" from the Slide menu. For example, you can set all of your header fonts to a specific font, make all of your first level bullets bold, and add a logo in the bottom right corner.  This one is one of those things that you'd pull your hair out about and just decide to use PowerPoint instead -- kudos to Google for finally adding this.

Edit, Crop and Add Borders to Images

With this new feature, users can now customize and edit images they use in their Slides. Before this update, users were limited as to what they can do with images they upload to their slides, now Google makes it easier for anyone to crop, edit, apply shape masks, and add borders to their images from within the presentation.  This is a huge time-saver for anyone who works heavily in Slides - and adds some real power to the application when comparing it to PowerPoint.

Slides is Now Available as a Mobile App
This one is pretty simple -- now you can use Slides on your Android and iOS devices!  Again, Google is making a good effort to make the weakest application in the suite more usable.

Google Apps Admin Tool
Admins can now restore a given user’s deleted Google Drive files for a specified date range. This helps ensure that, if a user accidentally deletes important files, those files are not permanently lost. The feature pertains to files that have been emptied from the Trash only. Files still in the Trash can be easily recovered by the user.  This is a great feature to enable true versioning in the Google Drive file system.

That's my quick and easy round up.  Hope this helps you prep for the kids coming back! (And yes, they are coming back!)

Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has been a classroom teacher for various subjects.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

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