Thursday, February 13, 2014

Styles and Table of Contents in Documents

If you're using the Bold command for your headings and subheadings, now's the time to start making use of Google's styles! Not only can it help you quickly assign size/color/spacing/bolding to text, you can quickly update throughout your document with just one change!

Assign and update

As you're creating your document, instead of bolding, assign one of the heading styles (don't worry if you don't like it - you can change that). Once you've assigned a style to a piece of text, highlight the text and make the changes until you're happy with the result. Then you can update the heading (see image below) and all instances throughout the document will be updated!
You can even set the defaults for all future documents you create by selecting Save as my default styles from the Options at the bottom of the styles list.

Table of Contents from your styles

Once you've formatted all your text using styles, you can quickly create a Table of Contents. Just select Table of Contents from the Insert menu. Google will automatically insert the text from your styles and indent the subheadings like this:
Check out the sample document


Working with styles - 
Edit and format a Google document - Google Help Add titles, headings and customize the style of your document  - Google Help Table of contents in documents  - Google Help

Friday, February 7, 2014

Miking and Multi-Cameras with Mobile Devices

When people first discover Google's Hangouts on Air (the ability to broadcast to large audiences), many try to use this to broadcast a speaker in front of a group (example: instructor in front of a class). Unfortunately, the quality is often poor, the audio is faint, and the video is shot at a distance.

An easy solution available to all of us is to use mobile devices (for audio and video). Although not broadcast quality by television standards, you can do some real exciting stuff:

  • improve audio from speaker by using an iPod/iPhone as a wireless microphone (this is great if all you're showing is a slide presentation)
  • use iPod/iPhone/iPad as secondary cameras that you can switch to
Although the quality of the sample video below is not the greatest, keep in mind that users who can't make it to the presentation would be happy just being able to hear it clearly. I didn't spend anytime on getting proper lighting, so with a little effort, your results will be better.

Thanks to +Michael Daniels for doing the switching.


  • Turn your system volume completely off. Mobile versions of hangouts won't let you completely mute the sound. If necessary, you can insert earbuds (or 1/8"jacks) into all mobile devices. 
  • Record video with a proper HD camera. With a video editor, you can sync the HD footage to the higher quality audio
  • The faster/newer the hardware, the better your results are
  • When miking your speaker (earbuds work great!), they don't have to have the earbud in their ear - just pin/clip it to them
  • If you can, start the HOA from your laptop, then go to the Hangout app on your mobile device and join the conversation. 
Where do you see yourself using this?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Creating Interactive Maps with Google Forms and Google’s MapsEngine

Ever seen one of those maps with pins on them to represent places people have traveled to or come from? Well, now you can create an online version with Google’s MapsEngine. Using Google Maps as a base, you can add layers of information on top. The best part: you can easily import information from a Google Spreadsheet!

In the video below I show how you can create a map I call "Where I went on Vacation” (great for teachers who want to find out what their students did during their summer holidays). Using Google Form I collect the following information which will be displayed for each location on my map:
  • student name
  • city and country visited (Google will use this data to map the location points)
  • favorite thing they saw
  • favorite thing then did
Once I’ve collected the information, I create a map by visiting and login with my Google credentials. After I’ve imported the information, I end up with something like this:

See for yourself how easy it is in the video below:

For more information on how to create your own maps, check out this tutorial.

Tips/Things to Remember:

  • when importing, each layer can only contain 100 items
  • if information is updated in the spreadsheet, it is not updated on your map. You will need to import the information again
  • once imported, you can add images to the different locations
  • you can also share the map among users to help maintain/update the information

MapsEngine is an exciting tool for visualizing spreadsheet information. Whether you’re mapping location of lighting strikes, tracking UFO sightings or collecting Starbuck locations, this tool is a handy addition to your teaching applications.

What are some other types of maps or uses you can see for this handy tool?