We wanted to remind everyone about the importance of keeping your Chromebook up to date. Generally, keeping any device up to date is for the best. Whether it’s your Apple Mac, Windows Laptop, or Smartphone, updating your devices ensures you get the most up-to-date security patches and any of the latest features. Keeping your devices up to date helps to keep your data safe.

Before the half term, we saw a rise in classroom issues with Chromebooks, such as projectors not displaying what’s on the screen or the speakers not playing sound from Chromebooks. 9 times out of 10 these issues were resolved by running a quick update on the Chromebook. Whilst it can be a little frustrating that Google release updates so often, every week or two, it is important that you run them. The vast majority of the time the update will automatically download to your Chromebook as soon as it’s available, you will then have a notification telling you to restart to update.

You can see in the screenshot example above, it’s nice and easy to see that you’ve got an update. Just look for the little arrow in the circle to the left of the time. Just click on that, or the time, to access your notifications and the update will always be the first one visible in the list. Just click Restart to Update, it may take a couple of minutes to restart your Chromebook and apply the update but not only are you getting the latest security patches, you’re also avoiding any delays with the start of your lessons.

If something isn’t working as expected on your Chromebook, in the first case it’s best to check for an update before anything else. Even if there isn’t an update available it would be a good idea to at least restart your Chromebook.

You can check for updates yourself by clicking on the time, click the Settings cog, click About Chrome OS and then click Check for Updates.

Firstly, thank you to everyone who has provided feedback about the apps that are making a difference. It’s been great to hear so many successful and innovative uses of technology to facilitate distance learning. In this post, I wanted to share some of the apps that have proved to be the most popular. 

Screencastify – Record your screen

Screencastify was one of the apps we looked at in the training before we closed. Screencastify has proved to be a popular app for creating recorded lesson content and providing feedback to learners. We recently upgraded to the premium version enabling recordings longer than 5 minutes and access to advanced features. I’ve made this video ? providing an overview of how to get started with Screencastify if you’d like a refresher.

If you’d like to develop your screencasting skills further, Screencastify have online courses available that contain pedagogically sound ideas for using screen recordings in lessons. Start with the Master Screencaster course which shares how you can use this to support learning. Next, progres to Screencastify Certified Genius to learn how to use Screencastify with Google Classroom. I’ve completed both courses which are well worth doing and they each take about 45 minutes to complete. ?Get started

Google Meet

Google Meet is being constantly updated by developers at Google in order to add the features most needed for distance learning. Here is a brief summary of the latest updates:

  • Teachers can create a meeting link in Google Classroom ? and students can join a meeting from Classroom;
  • Only meeting creators can mute or remove other participants in a meeting;
  • Meeting participants will not be able to re-join meetings once the final participant has left;
  • Schedule a Google Meet ? video call through Google Calendar;
  • Present a tab ? – You can now share an individual tab in Google Meet. This has an unexpected and useful feature. You can share audio from a Chrome tab in Google Meet, perfect for streaming a YouTube video or any other audio/video to your class during an online lesson.
  • Tiled view – See up to 16 people at the same time in the tile layout option in Google Meet. Alternatively, if you’d like to see more than 16 at the same time, check out the Grid View Chrome extension.

? Get started

Mote – Voice commenting in Google Docs

Mote is a new Chrome extension that gives you the ability to leave verbal feedback in Google Docs, Slides, and Classroom. This promises to be a big time saver for marking and is a nice way of giving more personalised feedback to learners. To learn how to get started with Mote, watch this video.

Google Jamboard – Collaborative whiteboard

Jamboard is Google’s collaborative interactive whiteboard. It’s useful if you’d like to write and draw using your Chromebooks touchscreen. Jamboard is a core G Suite app, which means Jam files get saved in Google Drive and can be set as assignments in Google Classroom. Watch this video ? to learn how to use Jamboard to set a collaborative assignment for your students. ?Get started

Flipgrid – Video discussions

Flipgrid is a tool developed for education and owned by Microsoft. You can use Flipgrid to set a question for your learners, asking students to reply in video format rather than text. As a teacher, you have full control enabling you to moderate videos and disable selfies. I think this could be a powerful tool for asynchronous distance learning. To see Flipgrid in action, take a look at the distance learning grid I shared last month, and feel free to post your own reply about how distance learning is going for you and your students- https://flipgrid.com/bpdigitallearning ?Get started

Firstly, I wanted to congratulate you all on what a smooth transition it has been moving to distance learning. In the training I delivered the week before campus closed, Google Meet and Screencastify were new to many. Since then, it really has been amazing to see how everyone has taken these technologies, explored new Apps, and found innovative ways to use these in your online lessons.

On Monday 1st June we will have our first Virtual INSET day. You can view the programme for the day here. We hope it will give you a chance to reflect – to review in departments, to share, upskill, plan and build upon good practice.

In order to share how technologies are being used within lessons, we have created a new Distance Learning Training site that contains over 20 video examples created by colleagues. These videos showcase how colleagues are building in approaches to peer work, checks on understanding, assessment and feedback as well as examples of how Google Meet, Classroom, and Screencastify and many other apps are being used.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to this site by creating some fantastic videos that show how they are using technology in their lessons. Special thanks go to Mandy Wood, Rachel Sansom, Anthony Pagett, Mark Robinson, Laura Barbey, Keiran Shipperley, Arran Hunt, Ceri Reece, Dave Tipper, Jodie Lindsay-Watson, Chris Palmer, Bill Campbell, Anneka Wass, Nyki Inskip, Georgina Crooks, and Lynne Milton.

We don’t want the Distance Learning Training site to be a static resource, so if you’d like to share something that is working well which you think your colleagues would benefit from, then please do get in touch and I’d love to feature your work.

Adobe Capture is a fantastic app that enables you to find fonts and colours or create a vector simply by taking a photo.

Use your mobile device as a vector converter to turn photos into colour themes, patterns, type, materials, brushes and shapes. Then bring those assets into your favourite desktop and mobile apps — including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Dimension, XD and Photoshop Sketch — to use in all your creative projects. FAD have a quick run through on Capture that you can see here.

Identify Typography

Find your perfect font using Adobe Capture. Take a photo of the type you like (in a magazine, on a label, a sign, anywhere!) and watch a list of similar Adobe Fonts magically appear.

Vectorize on the Go

Create vectors instantly with Shapes. Turn images into smooth, scalable vectors with 1-32 colors, for use in logos, illustration, animation, and more. Point and shoot at your drawing or upload a photo and watch it transform into clean, crisp lines.

Create Color Themes/Gradients

Designers, rejoice! Looking for customized color palettes? Find an inspiring gradient? Aim your camera at the scene that has the colors you want and capture them to use in your artwork.

Craft Intricate Patterns

Capture inspiring images and generate patterns with Capture preset geometrics. Easily create beautiful, colorful patterns that fit with your creative projects by using your vector shapes with our precision pattern builder.

Build Beautiful Digital Brushes

Can’t find the right brush? Take a photo or use an image to create digital brushes that match your creative vision. Use your brushes in Photoshop or Illustrator for rich painterly effects.

Generate 3D Textures

Generate realistic PBR materials for use in 3D design straight from the camera. Modify your materials for even more texture or blend the edges for seamless repeat tiling on your 3D objects.

Capture Light and Color

Collect light and hue to turn into beautiful color grading profiles for your images and videos with Looks. Record the magic of a sunset and transfer that feel to use in your photos and video projects.

Seamlessly Sync Creative Elements

All your assets save to Adobe Creative Cloud libraries. Instantly access your digital elements from your Creative Cloud account in all compatible applications.



This year the digital learning group attended Bett at ExCel London in January. Bett is the largest EdTech show in the UK, featuring a wide array of education technology to explore and seminars to learn from. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the highlights from Bett.

Read more

Spiral is a quick way to carry out formative assessments in the classroom or during distance learning.

Engage students in lessons and at home with simple to use everyday learning activities.

Spiral Lite is the free version of Spiral, within this you get access to Google Classroom integration, the Spiral Dashboard and many more features including Quickfire Lite, a tool that allows you to ask a verbal question in the class or on a Meet and the student can respond from any device.

Launch an activity or post an assignment to be completed asynchronously

Students connect with the activity using a simple code on any device

Students answers appear live so they can learn from each other

Or you can review, grade and feedback assignments off-line

Free Features

  • In Class
    • Run live activities with students, review and grade them
  • Quickfire Lite
    • Live assessments
  • Dashboard
    • Build activities and assignments
  • Feedback and Grading
    • Realtime feedback
    • Build evidence of student learning
  • Timeline and Exit Tickets
    • Record of each class session
    • Record of each student’s learning
    • Share results with parents
  • Google Classroom Integration
    • Import class list
  • Student Dashboard
    • Students can see all assigned work
    • Can see grades

Quickfire Lite

Take a look at the video below to see about how you can use Quickfire Lite for classroom based or virtual teaching.

The JISC digital experience insights survey asks students across FE and HE about their experiences of digital in insitituions throughout the country. This year it was completed by nearly 38,000 students. You can view our results here.

Earlier this term Jon Neal (@JNealeUK) from AppsEvents visited us to deliver the Google Certified Educator Level 1 bootcamp, which helps you prepare to take Google’s exam by providing pedagogically sound ideas for the use of G Suite. Sixty teachers and support staff have attended the course so far and many have already completed the exam to become a Google Certified Educator. Everyone left with new ideas for using tools across the suite including Google Classroom, Forms, Docs, Sheets, YouTube and more!

If you’d like us to organise more training for G Suite for Education or other products then let us know by completing this form.