Sep 30, 2016

Learn from the Google Sheets Explore Button

Just yesterday, I posted a few tips about using Google Sheets.  One new item about Google Sheets that just keeps getting better is the Explore Button.  

If you haven't noticed this little gem, that's because it is hidden at the bottom right corner of your Sheets screen.

While the Explore button has been there for a little while, it has recently gotten a few updates.  Let's take a look at what the Explore button can do...

Get Answers About Your Data

One really cool features in Explore is the Answers section.  At the top of any Explore pane, you will see a search box that says, "Ask a question about your data".  So for instance, with the demo sheet available with the new explore button, there is a great deal of data about the World Cup.  You could simply type in "Who was the winner?" and get a quick answer about that data.

Learn from the Formula

Want to know how they did that?  With any question you ask you can click See Formula and see the Sheets formula used to find the data related to your question.  For example, in a question about who the winner is, Sheets uses the unique filter to arrive at the answer:  


Once you find your answer, and view the formula, you can click on the formula and it will be copied to your clipboard so you can use it and apply it elsewhere.  This is a great way to learn more about the use of Functions and Formulae.

Add Formatting Quickly

In my previous post (5 Tips for Google Sheets Users) I discussed some of the simple formatting you can do to your Sheet.  For example, there is a quick way to add alternating colors to your sheet.  Want to save a few steps?  Use the Explore button.

Insert Charts In A Snap

You can also get suggestions for Data Charts and Graphs quickly.  Just click on Explore, find the chart or graph you want, and click & drag it onto your Sheet.  You can also click the Pencil on the Graph to quickly edit or make changes to your new Graph.  

Sep 29, 2016

5 Tips for Google Sheets Users

Not many out there will admit to being spreadsheet fanatics, but I gotta say - I love spreadsheets.  There was a time when the mere mention of a spreadsheet made me cringe.  But now that I know more about them, I use them all the time.  For those of you that are just starting, check out my tutorials on Google Sheets.  Then grab these 5 tips to help you be more productive.  

Alternate Table Colors

If you love Table Formatting in Excel, you've probably looked for it in Sheets.  There are often times that you need to be able to discern between one row of data and another and you scan your sheet.  To make it easier on your eyes, just Highlight your rows, click on Format, and choose Alternating Colors.

Simple Database Using Links

Since there is no Microsoft Access alternative in the world of Google, you have to get a little creative to create a database.  Sometimes just being able to link between sheets can be necessary.  To get really complicated with linking sheets, check out this video.  But for a simple solution, just highlight a cell, and click Insert > Link to add a link to  a URL or another Google File.  Don't know the link you're looking for?  You can search for it.  You can even search your own sheets in Drive as a link. See below.  

Search Across Workbooks in a Sheet

Too many workbooks in a Sheet can create an issue when you are trying to find information. To do this,  Click CTRL+F.  Then click the More menu (3 dots).  Make sure to set search to All Sheets.  Then search for your keyword or term.

Quit Scrolling Back and Forth - Freeze Your Sheet

When you have a great deal of data across columns, the last thing you need to do is scroll back and forth or highlight rows to make sure you are looking at the right line of data. Save yourself some hassle by freezing columns or rows as needed.  To do this, Click View and Choose Freeze.  You have the choice of freezing 1, 2 or more rows and columns.

Get Notified!

Need to stay up to date on when information is added to a shared form?  Maybe you are collecting data on student progress and have shared your sheet with another teacher or two.  As they add information to your shared sheet, you can save yourself the pain of checking back over and over again for changes by setting up notifications.  To do this, click Tools > Notification Rules and make your selections.

Sep 23, 2016

Google Slides - Making Presenter View Work for You

Recently, a reader posted the following question for the Techy Coach:
"I watched your video on the new back  channel available in the presenter view with Google Slides.  How do you as a presenter see this view without the audience seeing it also?"
This question comes up quite often, so I thought I would post this updated explanation about Presenter View to cover some of the features involved.

What is Presenter View for Google Slides?

Several months ago, Google released an update to Google Slides that allows presenters to take questions from the audience.  But its much more than that.  In addition to taking questions from the audience, you can control your presentation from the Presenter View Dashboard, use audience tools to display questions from audience members to the entire audience, and access a back-channel of questions from any presentation in the future.

Getting Started...

To use Presenter View...
  1. Open any Google Slides Presentation.
  2. On the Present button, click the Drop Down menu and Choose Presenter View
  3. Click Start New

Google will provide a URL address at the top of your slides that audience members can use to ask questions.  They can access this address from any mobile device.  Audience members can choose to ask questions using their profile name, or anonymously.

As audience members ask questions, they will appear in the Audience Tools pane.   If you want to present an audience member's question, you can click the Present button beneath their question.

Additionally, you can control your presentation from this window by using the presenter tools.  This allows you to move forward or backward in your presentation, and access speaker notes if you have them.

At any time, if you want to stop taking questions, just toggle the On/Off switch, and the URL will disappear from the top of your presentation, and Slides will stop taking questions.

How Do I Present My Slide Show?

The main question that pops up when using Google Slides Presenter View, as shown in the question at the start of this article, is how to display without your audience seeing your presenter tools.  

The quick answer to this is to change the display settings on your device to Extended Desktop.  However, there is not a quick way to explain how this works on different devices.  Here are a few explanations.

On a Chromebook, you can simply follow these instructions:

  1. Click on the Status Area in the bottom right of your display (clock).
  2. Choose Settings
  3. Choose Display Settings
  4. Change Options from Mirroring to Extended Display.

For a Windows
  1. Right click on your display.
  2. Choose Graphic Options > Output to > Extended Desktop.

By setting up your device and projector as Extended Desktop, you can then present your slide show on the Projected Screen, while viewing the Audience Tools on your device.  

This allows you to see your presenter tools, questions from the audience, and any speaker notes you need to access while all they see is your slide show.

Accessing Questions from Previous Sessions

As you use Google Slides Presenter View over and over, you will notice the option to Continue Recent or Start New.  As a result, you can continue a previous session, adding new questions to old questions, or you can start a fresh session with new audience questions.

As for old sessions, you can access questions from previous sessions at any time.  To do this:

  1. In the Google Slides Editor, Click Tools
  2. Choose Q&A History
  3. A pane will open at the right of your slide show displaying your Q&A History from previous sessions.
  4. Click on any date to view audience questions.

Hopefully this helps to answer questions you may have had about Presenter View on Google Slides.  This is a great tool that has many great applications including fielding questions from:
  • Audiences at Conferences and Exhibitor Shows
  • Students in Class
  • Faculty and Staff during Professional Development
  • Google Hangouts / YouTube Live
  • Parent Meetings
However you plan to use it, always make sure to test it out in advance so you are comfortable with use and settings involved.

Happy Presenting!

Sep 21, 2016

Tracking Student Progress and Attendance in Google Sheets

This week, a question to the Techy Coach asks how a coach or teacher might use Google Sheets to track student progress, as well as attendance.

From this I know that there are many times as educators that you want to log data regarding student performance.  Specifically you may want to track Reading Fluency or Cross Country/Run Times, while still having the ability to see a visual of their progress over time.  Google Sheets can help with this, as well as Attendance needs by using a few simple tools.  The video below will specifically cover:

  • Sparkline Charts
  • Data Validation
  • Conditional Formatting
Take a look and see how Google Sheets can help you with your club sponsor and coaching needs.  Design  your Google Sheet to fit your needs, then once you have your sheet setup, you can access it on a phone or tablet as you meet for practice or meetings.

Sep 19, 2016

Using Microsoft Files in the Cloud - Effective Use of Google Drive

Recently in working with a Local Education Co-Op, we ran across an issue that may be important to several of you out there.  While I am a big proponent of using Google Apps (Docs, Sheets, Slides) for classroom solutions, there are often times when due to Macros and other features, you simply must use a Microsoft file such as Excel.  

In this case, an Excel Spreadsheet was being shared between several users across Google Drive.  Users were using Google Drive Sync on Macs and PCs to share and back up their files.  One issue they ran across is that several temporary files would popup as a result of opening, editing, and using the Excel sheet in the cloud.  As well, they found that sometimes, people would lose access to the file, as some users would click File > Save As on Excel, rather than just clicking Save. 

As a result, they often found that even though the filename may be the same, users lost access because Save As would overwrite and replace the file.  This is because Google Drive can have several files of the same name, but what makes them different from one another is the URL and the Unique Identifier in the URL Address.  

So if you are a Google Drive user, but you have a need to share and use a Microsoft file, here are a few tips:

Access Everywhere