Wednesday, 23 September 2015

5 speedy keyboard shortcuts for Google Drive

In the last two months we’ve shared keyboard shortcuts to help you save time in Gmail and Google Calendar. This month, we continue the series with five Google Drive shortcuts that will help you navigate the Google Drive web interface quickly and easily:

ActionShortcut key
Rename the selected filen
Share the selected file.
Star the selected files
Move the selected file to a folder   z
Add the selected file to an additional folder  Shift + z

Once you’ve mastered these, be sure to check out this complete list (from Google) of keyboard shortcuts for Google Drive.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

5 tips for great looking tables in Google Sites

If you’ve ever inserted a table into a Google Site, you’ve probably noticed there are very few styling and formatting options available. This means many tables in Google Sites get left looking pretty dull. Don’t let your tables suffer the same fate! In this post, you’ll learn five ways to format and style Google Site tables by tweaking the HTML code of your page.

Note: This article relates to the Classic Google Sites only.

A little bit about the HTML for tables

If you’ve never worked with HTML before, don’t be daunted! Here are a few basics to help get you started. If you’re already familiar with HTML, skip ahead to the next section.

A simple HTML table is created using the HTML tags below. In this example, the table being created would have two rows and three columns:

<table>        Creates the table.
<tbody>       Signals the beginning of the body of the table.
<tr>             Creates the first row in the table.
<td></td>    Creates the first column. The text between the two tags will be put in a cell in the first                         column in the first row.
<td></td>    Creates the second column. The text between the two tags will be put in a cell in the                              second column in the first row.
<td></td>    Creates the third column. The text between the two tags will be put in a cell in the third                        column in the first row.
</tr>             Ends the first row.
<tr>              Creates the second row in the table.
<td></td>     The text between the two tags will be put in a cell in the first column in the second row.
<td></td>     The text between the two tags will be put in a cell in the second column in the second                           row.
<td></td>     The text between the two tags will be put in a cell in the third column in the second row.
</tr>             Ends the second row.
</tbody>      Signals the end of the body of the table.
</table>       Signals the end of the table.

You’ll notice that all opening tags are surrounded by < > and all closing tags are surrounded by < />.
Most of the tweaks in this post will require you to add extra code to the <table>, <tr> or <td> tags.

Accessing the HTML

Every Google Site page has HTML behind it. To access it:
1. Open the page you want to edit and click the Edit page (pencil) button.
2. Click the <HTML> button.

A window with the HTML will open. Look for the <table> tag to find the start of your table.

Tweak 1: Remove a table’s border

By default, a table will be created with a border. To remove the border, simply change the values in the border =”1” and border-width:1px to 0

You could also just delete these tags, however I find it easier to leave them in place in case I want to turn the borders back on. To do this, simply change the 0 to 1 again!

Tweak 2: Add a background colour

You can add a background colour to a row, the whole table or an individual cell. To do so, add the style=”background-color: #colour code” to either the <table>, <tr> or <td> tags.  You can find a list of colour codes here.

Here are a few examples of the adjusted code:

Tweak 3: Centre your table on the page

To put your table in the centre of the page, add style="margin: 0pt auto;" to the <table> tag. Here is what it should look like:

Tweak 4: Add some room (padding) between table cells

The default spacing in a Google Sites table often results in the text in different cells being very close together. You can add some breathing room between cell contents by adding  cellpadding=”XX” to <table> tag. Insert a number where the XX is. Try starting at 10 and adjust from there to find a setting that meets your needs. Here is what it will look like:

Tweak 5: Change the width of your table 

To change the width of the table (for example, to 90% of the total width of the page), add style=”width:90%” to the <table> tag. Here is what it should look like:

There are also heaps of other ways to format and style your table using HTML tags. After you’ve mastered the five tweaks above, check out this site for some more ideas.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Create Gmail templates with Canned Responses

Do you have emails that you send over and over again? Perhaps it’s a daily broadcast of student absences, phone messages to a colleague or requests to the community for student work placements? If this sounds like you, Gmail canned responses can save you time and effort!

The Canned responses lab in Gmail lets you create email templates. These templates can be re-used every time you need to send a similar email. Canned responses are a much simpler solution than digging back through old emails looking for some text to copy and paste!

Step 1 - Enabled the Canned responses lab

1. Click the Cog button in the top right corner of Gmail. Select Settings from the menu.
2. Select the Labs tab.
3. Scroll down the list of labs until you find Canned responses. Select the Enable radio button.
4. Scroll down and click Save changes.

Step 2 - Create a Canned response

1. Compose a new email message.
2. Enter a subject and type the body text you want to include in the template.
Tip: You cannot save recipients as part of a Canned response.

3. If you use an email signature, delete it from the template (it will be inserted automatically when you use the template).
4. Click the small grey arrow button in the bottom right corner of the New Message window. Select Canned responses and New canned response...

4. Confirm the name of the Canned response and click OK. Your Canned response has now been saved.

Step 3 - Use a Canned response

Follow the steps below each time you want to use a saved Canned response.
1. Compose a new email message.
2. Click the small grey arrow button in the bottom right corner of the New Message window. Select Canned responses and click the name of your Canned response in the Insert section of the menu. The template will be inserted into the email.

3. Make any necessary changes to the body text and subject of the email. Add the recipients and then click Send

That’s it! You’ve used your Canned response to send an email. You can create and save more than one Canned response, so have a think about all the regular emails you send and get creating!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Show and tell with Microsoft Snip

Microsoft has recently released Snip, a simple, yet powerful tool for adding annotations and voice-overs to images. Use Snip to take a screenshot or capture an image from your webcam, then use the drawing and voice recording tools to explain the content of the image. You can then share the end result as an image file or mp4. If you don’t require a base image, Snip also includes a whiteboard feature that can be used for drawing. Snip’s a quick and easy way to create videos for rich feedback or to help students or colleagues understand tricky concepts. You could also get your students to use Snip to explain their understanding of a topic or showcase their work.

How do I get it?

Snip is available for free for the Windows platform.  Download it here.

How do I use it?

Once Snip is open, it hovers at the top of the desktop.

The first icon lets you take a screenshot, the second opens a blank whiteboard and the third icon captures an image from your webcam.

Once you’ve captured an image or opened the whiteboard, you can access the annotation and recording tools.

When you’ve finished working with your image, you can save it locally to your computer or share it online.

Snip is still brand new, so expect a few bugs and missing features. However, it’s a promising start and I’m looking forward to seeing how this tool develops.

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