Catch up on every new feature added to Google G Suite for Education in January 2019.

Material Design for Docs, Sheets, Slides and Sites

This is purely a visual design change, there is no change in how you use the product but you may have already noticed it. This style change is part of a new design approach from Google to keep each app consistent. The changes are as below:

  • Improved interface typography
  • Consistent controls
  • Legible and crisp icons

You’ll see below in the example from Google Slides that the options toolbar is cleaner and more modern. The Share button in the top right corner now matches the colour of the app you are in rather than being blue across all apps.

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Online Resources

If you’ve arrived back after the Christmas break with a new smartphone, tablet or laptop, we have instructions on how to get it set-up on our services so you can make the most out of using your new device to support your learning.

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Recently, we joined the Google Classroom beta. This is a unique opportunity for you to pilot new unreleased features in Google Classroom.

Gradebook beta in Google Classroom
Teachers will have the ability to easily view and input grades across classwork and students. Teachers will also be able to view and customize average grades, set up weighted grade categories, and share overall performance with students. For more information, check out the official blog post.

  • Getting started: Please take a look at this Help Center article to learn how to setup your Gradebook and this Help Center article about how to use your Gradebook.
  • Platform: The new Grades page and the ability to configure Gradebook settings are only available on the Web. Using and viewing grade categories and average grades are available on the Web, iOS, and Android.
  • Access: All previous classes created by beta participants will include the new Gradebook features. Any co-teachers who are added to a class with Gradebook enabled will have access to the Gradebook for that class as well.

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On the twelfth day of Christmas IT gave to me…


Screencastify is a Google Chrome extension that is freely available from the Chrome web store. It enables you to create screencasts and videos on a PC, Mac, or Chromebook. In addition to recording your screen, it combines annotation tools, record from your microphone for voice over, and you can record yourself with a picture-in-picture overlay of your webcam. Everything you record is saved to Google Drive so you can easily share the video with students, embed it on a Google Site, or upload to YouTube.

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On the eleventh day of Christmas IT gave to me…

Two Instant Messengers



Slack is a great tool designed for workplace messaging. It can be used by anyone for free, not just businesses.

You start by creating a Workspace which would be the very top of your group, for example in IT Services we have our ‘Barton IT’ workspace. Then below the workspace you have Channels and Direct Messages. You can have many channels, these are where you will be messaging your team whereas the workspace above is the main organisation point. We generally have a channel for each different type of service we support in order to keep talk about certain things separate from other chats.

The best thing about Slack is the integration you can have, connect it to Google Calendar to remind you when an event is about to start or set up Slackbot so whenever you type a certain word or phrase, it responds with a preset reply. You can even add your own icons in as custom emojis.

Integration also works with Apps such as Google Drive or Evernote which we have also introduced you to in our 12 Apps of Christmas posts. Once you set up authorization for Google Drive, it can Slack you each time someone shares a document with you or comments on your work, you can also provide access through it when someone requests to view a document.

You can also search through your chat history, the free version of Slack keeps your last 10,000 messages so you can search through that with ease and also includes 121 video calls. Plus you can install it as an app on your phone, app on your computer or access it through your browser.

Hangouts Chat (Staff Only)

Google have now made Hangouts Chat part of the core G Suite service. Chat enables users to send direct messages or have group conversations. It is possible to set up virtual rooms for departments, teams or projects and have threaded conversations. Chat works with other G Suite apps so you can upload items from Drive and collaborate on Docs, Sheets or Slides.

It’s available on desktop for Windows and MacOS, as well as iOS and Android so you can easily collaborate on any device. Although Hangouts is only currently mainly available for staff, students do have limited access. They can’t create rooms but can be added to rooms by staff. So for example, a teacher could create a room for one of their classes and invite the students in.

Hangouts Chat can be accessed by going to or by downloading the Hangouts Chat app on your Android or iOS device.


On the tenth day of Christmas IT gave to me…


Filr is a ‘sync and share’ service similar to Google Drive and other similar cloud services. Our Filr service, however, has the benefit of giving you access to files being stored and managed on Barton Peveril IT Services’ own servers. While Google Drive is the IT Services team’s favourite place to store work, Filr will be useful for those that have not yet made the move to G Suite and want to continue to use the college’s traditional file servers.

Filr allows staff and students to access their files and folders from a desktop, web browser or mobile device. There are mobile apps for iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets. Files can be accessed from a web browser in college or at home and shared with other staff or students. Additionally, there is also a Windows and Mac client which allows files and folders to be synchronised with a home desktop or laptop.

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On the ninth day of Christmas IT gave to me…

Open Broadcaster Software

Image result for open broadcast server

We started using Open Broadcaster Software [OBS] here at Barton Peveril a couple of years back, it’s available for Windows, MacOS and various flavours of Linux. OBS is a tool that allows you to run a virtualised TV Studio control room on your computer – you might wonder why you’d possibly need this tool for teaching, but have a think about these possible use cases;

  • OBS can use webcams in the classroom, plus a microphone, to capture everything – the student’s questions, the contents of your screen or projector, or even just a particular window. This captured content can be laid out how you’d like it visually, and then either recorded to a file and shared with students unable to attend, or it can be broadcast live, as-it-happens!
  • OBS can run a technology showcase during an open evening; using a green screen and a couple of webcams, OBS can put students, prospective students, staff or parents behind the desk in the Sky News studio, or the middle of a pack of hungry Velociraptors.
  • OBS can capture a live computer screen, and broadcast it out using web-friendly technology, broadcasting it out to other departments, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and our digital signage system.


These aren’t just use-cases, these are things that OBS has actually already done at Barton Peveril. Want to know the beast bit? OBS is free, open-source software. Staff and students can download and use it for free on their own computers! If you’ve got any questions about OBS, pop up and speak to Ben or Martin, they’re always interested in creative uses of this technology!

OBS is available from the following webpage;

On the eighth day of Christmas IT gave to me…

Google Drive File Stream


Google Drive File Stream is an app we introduced a year ago but is probably not well known amongst first year students or new members of staff. Put simply, you can see all your Google Drive files as if they are on your PC or Mac.

With Drive File Stream you can:

  • Quickly see all your Google Drive files in Finder/Explorer (including Team Drives).
  • Browse and organize Google Drive files without downloading all of them to your computer.
  • Choose which files or folders you’d like to make available offline if you’re working from home or a laptop.
  • Open files in common apps like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop.

Drive File Stream

Google Drive File Stream is available for Windows and Mac users to try now. To install go to Applications on the desktop, next go into the All folder, and double-click the Google Drive File Stream installer. After the install has been completed you’ll be prompted to log in with your college Google account and allow access to your drive. You should now see Drive I in Windows Explorer alongside your other network drives.

You can also install Google Drive File Stream on your home computer or laptop. To download the installer go to install Drive File Stream >>

On the seventh day of Christmas IT gave to me…


Today we’d like to introduce you to a brilliant organisation and productivity tool called Evernote.

Evernote, as its name suggests, is a note taking application, but that barely scratches the surface of what it can do. Not only does it synchronise across all of my devices – the desktop I’m writing this on, my Chromebook, mobile and tablet – but the notes can include images (imported or captured using the camera on my mobile) and documents in a variety of formats. Evernote indexes all of these notes for easy search, and it even indexes text inside images or PDFs.

You can read the Evernote website for a full list of all the features. I just wanted to go through and outline a few uses and how I use them to help organise my own time and work. Hopefully this will give you a few ideas to improve the way you organise your own wealth of information!

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The season of advent is upon us, shops are covered in tinsel, and Christmas songs are playing on the radio. That means it’s time for The 12 Apps of Christmas! During December the IT Services team and other contributors will be sharing our favourite digital learning apps and tools.

A festive series of new blog posts will be published and tagged as the 12 Apps of Christmas. Posts will include details about the app and ways it could be used effectively in a professional/teaching/learning context. We hope this will give you the opportunity to try out a new tool and learn more about the kind of things we’re involved in.

On the sixth day of Christmas IT gave to me…
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