Monday, August 27, 2012

Chrome printing issues

Over the past few weeks, the current version of Chrome has posed several problems printing. As more schools use Google Apps for Education and switch to using Chrome as a browser (still a far superior browser compared to IE), it is important to make sure the basic needs are met--like printing.

As helpful advice to fellow teachers and instructional/technological leaders, here are some "quick" fixes to the Chrome/PDF viewer print dialog issues.

Problem summary: When attempting to print in Chrome (any application), the user can press Ctrl+P, click the print button on the application, or go to File-->Print. In all three cases, the print dialog box (a Chrome-generated PDF viewer) fails to appear. Therefore, documents fail to print. There is no quick print feature.


  1. Hold down Ctrl+Shift+P to print. This will generate the PDF viewer.
  2. Open another computer application like MS Word, prompt Word to print and then, return to Chrome and print. 
  3. Close out of Chrome (sometimes multiple times are necessary) and reopen Chrome.
Various forums suggest enabling the PDF viewer add-in (though, it is enabled by default). However, this does not seem to be the case in many instances. The important part is to provide staff with a simple set of fixes they can do in order to make the "clean-up" smooth and easy. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Assignment dropboxes with Google Forms

The activities you can create with Google Forms is ever-increasing. Per Tammy Worcester's handy Web site, you can find the how-tos of creating a Google Form that serves as an assignment drop box.

After student submit the form, the data concerning their form populates as a concise, clear spreadsheet for you to manage. Combine this with a script and you can populate grades as well.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Google Drive Transition

In the process of changing Google Docs to Google Drive, some things were left unclear to Google Apps users:

  1. Two formats of Google Drive: Web-based and computer-based--this confuses many teachers as they attempt to download Google Drive (the computer-based version that syncs with your Web documents) rather than continuing to use Google Drive Web-based
  2. Adding/Moving files: Now, when you attempt to move/add a file that has been shared with you to one of your folders, you have to hold down the Ctrl key while dragging it. If you do not, you remove all labels from the shared document and essentially, remove it from that shared folder so no one else can find it. This did not happen in Documents.
  3. Lastly, there is an option to delay transition to Google Drive so many Apps users have to manually upgrade to Drive. This confuses many teachers who cannot find "Drive" during district trainings. And, rather than pushing out Google Drive to all Apps users, staff have to do it on their own--which doesn't always happen.
To help distinguish between Documents and Drive and to help other newbie users upgrade to Drive, check out this handout I created. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Quick and easy text to school groups with Google Apps

Ever want to send a text out to parent groups to remind them of activities or of the legendary "folder"? Well, there is an easy and free (if the recipients have texting plans) way to do it with Google Apps.

  1. Log into your gmail
  2. Click on the gear in the far right and select settings
  3. In the settings menu, click on the labs tab
  4. Click on the enable button next to "SMS (text messaging) in Chat"
  5. That's the first step
Now, if you already have created your contacts and groups, you can breeze to part two. If you haven't, you will want to do so first. 

  1. In the chat box in the bottom left, start typing in a contact's name. As you type, you should see the option to "send SMS" to the right of it. Click on that. 
  2. In the box that is open for a phone number, enter the contact's phone number. 
  3. In the bottom portion of the box, type your message. 
  4. Press enter when your message is done.
That's it! You are given 50 free messages to start with. As you send one, your count drops. However, as you receive SMS, your total will increase. It will never be locked out. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Tracking student submissions within Google Apps

Though I've been using GAFE for several years now, I just now stumbled upon a great script: With this script, you do not have to search and find student docs/presentations/spreadsheets within the GAFE domain. Rather, you just need a class roster on a spreadsheet. After that, you can run the script on the spreadsheet. Now, when you assign work, link with the document URL, the grade you assign it, and the date it was submitted appear in your roster. What's even better is that you can make your own project groups from your roster--so they are not generic Google groups that you have to constantly change. With each project group, you can restrict viewing capabilities AND you maintain ownership of the documents! With one additional step, you can even insert a rubric into the spreadsheet for students to turn to.

Check out this video, which explains the script in depth:

To find the script, just open up your Google spreadsheet roster. Click on insert-->script. Search under education. Look for the doctupus script. Follow the steps to install it. Then, return to your spreadsheet. Click Tools-->Script Manager. Find the script again and click run. Now, when you create your Google Docs, you will find additional options for sharing and linking to your spreadsheet. Cool find!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Appointment Calendars made easy with Google Calendar

In a GAFE district, scheduling is made easy with the help of appointments on Google Calendar. Not only is it as easy as a click and save, it integrates seamlessly into Drive, gmail, and other Google products as part of GAFE.

Uses?: For secondary students and staff, a great use is to have students sign up for paper conferences, band showcases, auditions, meetings with counselors, and other appointments. For primary students and staff, it is helpful to use appointments for parent teacher conferences, lab scheduling, and meetings.

How it works:

  1. Either create a calendar specifically for appointments or just add appointments to an existing calendar. Follow the steps to creating a calendar if you choose that method.
  2. Click on a time that you would like to reserve for appointments. In the pop-up box, choose appointment slots rather than event. 

  1. Click on event details in the bottom right.
  2. And, now, you can choose:
    1. The calendar to place the appointment on
    2. Get the URL of the appointments to send out to others (you can change this into a QR code as well so they can sign up via phone)
    3. Add a location (you can get the exact address from Google Maps so the location is tied to a map)
    4. The length and quantity of that appointment.

  1. Press Save when you are done.
  2. Repeat for as many different appointment titles as you want. 
  3. Remember to integrate other Google Apps into this feature so it is seamless and try out the QR code generator so kids can use their QR scanner to take them to the appointment calendar and sign up remotely. Parents can do this as well!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

iGoogle going away? Here's some fixes

With all of Google's other applications, there are a lot of ways to bypass any need for iGoogle. However, it does have one great purpose--RSS feeds/news feeds. So, what are some good solutions for when iGoogle disappears in November? Try some of these ideas:

And, Symbaloo is an online bookmarking site that is presented in a more spacial format with buttons. This can act as a homepage. You can add a bookmark for a Google Calendar, a bookmark for a news site, a bookmark for gmail, and so forth:

Check it out:

There are other bookmarking sites that are similar. You can check them out at Round Rock ISD's LiveBinder: