Ed Tech Tips with E. Mosier

Make your classroom more E-fficient!

Summer Updates Galore!

Overview

As the school year begins to ramp up again, companies roll out all of the latest and greatest features that teachers can use in the classroom. There are quite a few programs that underwent some pretty substantial changes over the summer. As per usual, Google released some amazing updates to both Classroom and Forms, making them much more convenient for teachers. Additionally, Flipgrid unveiled an all new recording system that allows students to harness more control of the videos they record. Below are the updates outlined for each of these different programs.

Google Classroom

Perhaps the biggest program to undergo an update was Google Classroom. In what were a slough of updates, Classroom became a lot more user-friendly and teacher-centered. In total, there were nine new updates:


1. New links at the top: Stream, Classwork, and People - The Stream page has been diluted to only include important announcements and alert students as to when as assignment is posted.


2. Addition of the Classwork Page - Organizing assignments is now easier than ever with this page. Placing them into Categories that are teacher-created only enhances the benefits of this page.


3. New People Page - Prior to this update, all of the people associated with a class were on different pages. Now, both students and co-teachers have been streamlined to appear on the People page.


4. Settings Icon New Location - The gear icon for settings now appears at the top of the page. Opening this up allows you to change the class name, reset the class code, and change the commenting permissions of teachers and students.


5. About tab New Location - Previously, the About tab was one of the main three. Now, it has been relocated to appear just above the Class Theme link. Currently, the only thing that does is quickly, easily, and efficiently displays the class code.


6. New grading feature! - My favorite update to Classroom is the ability to shuffle between assignments without closing tabs and then reloading the next assignment. It is now easier than ever to toggle between assignments as if they are in a stack in front of you with two arrows at the top of the grading window!


7. Comment Bank and Feedback - In addition to the new grading arrows, there is now a sidebar to the right that allows for easy commenting to that student, plus a comment bank to quickly leave comments that are frequently used.


8. Turn Notifications Off for an Entire Class - Instead of having to go class by class and piece by piece, the option now exists to toggle off all notifications for all classes at once. Visit the main settings page to make that change.


9. Copy an Entire Class - As more and more classes are added to your schedule, there may be times when you want to copy all of the assignments and announcements from one class to another. That option is now a reality, and those assignments stay in draft form, allowing you to edit them prior to them being assigned to students.


To see a visual representation of these updates and receive a little more information, check out the "What's New in Classroom 2018" Slides presentation I have created for you.

An Update to the Update in Classroom

Some educators, like myself and even others in the district, were lucky enough to beta test the new Google Classroom over the summer. As a result of that, there have been some suggestions made on improvements to the new update. Google has said these will appear in an early fall update. The two most notable are:


1. Ability to add class materials to the About link - With the relocation of the About tab and the extremely miniscule function of it, there should soon be an option to add important course materials to it. Items such as a syllabus, important resources, or even just a Classroom Guidelines document will now be able to be stored there. Until then, it is recommended that a topic is created for all of those and placed at the top of the Classwork page for easy access.


2. Classwork for Old Classrooms - As of now, if you look at the Classrooms that were created prior to the update, the Classwork page is not there. However, there will eventually be one, allowing you to copy and pull from earlier Classrooms to make assigning new material seamless and more efficient!

Google Forms

Another tool that will become a little more enticing for teachers to use is Google Forms. The following updates are slated to appear in early fall, but are certainly worth mentioning here.


1. Create Quizzes in Classroom! - According to Google, you will be able to create a Google Form quiz for students directly into Google Classroom. Intertwining these two powerful tools into one convenient location is a recipe for efficiency for teachers.


2. Lock Down Browser for Quizzes - There has been some skepticism with this update, but many teachers have requested it and Google has listened. From what we have heard, when students are taking a Google Form quiz, teachers will have the ability to lock down a student's browser, preventing them from visiting other websites for answers of off-task behavior.

Flipgrid

The biggest news out of the Flipgrid Headquarters was that it had been acquired by Microsoft and is now FREE for all educators. There are no more feature differentiated by money, because they are all available! So, with that, several new features were unveiled at Flipgrid Live! in Minneapolis, MN in early August. A small sampling of the updates are below:


1. Grids for All Occasions - There are now premade Grids for Classroom use, Public use, or PLCs. In addition, students can now be uploaded with a student ID number, which generates a QR code, making recording for even the youngest of learners quite simple.


2. Adding a Topic Tip - You can now include subtle reminders to students as they record. It could be as simple as reminding them where the information to pull from is, or it could be something in regards to the PVLEGS acronym.


3. Updated Recording Options - Students are now in complete control of their submission with the ability to trim their video, and add as much time as they have trimmed.


4. Updated Camera Features - Students can now record in selfie mode or record what is in front of them. The camera flips back and forth and adjusts accordingly. Additionally, the camera now adjusts to whether they record horizontally, vertically, or even both within the same video.


5. #GridPals - Easily the coolest update to Flipgrid this summer is the addition of GridPals. This essentially places you on a world-wide map, allowing other educators from across the country to locate you, share contact information, and have students contributing and collaborating to the same grid! What a powerful example of amplifying student voice!

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