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Redefining the (digital) Classroom

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Google Add-Ons are Right On!

If you've been waiting to upgrade to the new Google Sheets, here's a big reason to take the plunge: Add-ons. These are just what they sound like - add on tools for a Google Sheet or Google Doc. Included in these add-ons are refreshed versions of some scripts we've come to know and love, such as Doctopus, Autocrat and Flubaroo.

However, there are many more amazing automations found in the Add-ons docs gallery and Add-ons sheets gallery. You can either browse these by scrolling through or filter by topic - such as education, productivity, etc.

Here are a few gems I've found already:

Docs Add-ons:
  • Easy Bib: This simply automates and simplifies the creation of bibliographies in MLA, APA or Chicago format.
  • eSign / Panda Sign / hello sign: These three similar add-ons allow you to create digitally signable documents.
  • Track Changes: Is revision history sometimes a bit hard to follow in a collaborative document? I agree! The Track Changes add-on allows you to accept or reject revisions as they come in, just like a certain popular desktop-based word processor.
  • Thesaurus: I am so often opening a new window to find synonyms for words as I write these posts. Having a thesaurus built into the doc will make this so much simpler!
  • gliffy / Mind Meister / WebSequence Diagrams: O.M.G. - love these three add-ons. They take text in your doc and turn it into a visual diagram! Mind Meister is probably the easist to use... give them a whirl!
Sheets Add-ons:
  • Split Names: Ever import a list of student or staff names then have to alphabetize them by last name... but the names are all in one cell so you need to manually separate them? Not anymore - this add-on does it for you. 
  • Twitter Curator: Want to curate your tweets in a spreadsheet? Bam. 
  • DriveEye: Ever want to audit your own Drive to see what docs you've got in there and who they are shared to? I have, and have never been able to do it quickly in the past. This solves that problem!

Once installed, these add-ons will forever appear in the add-ons menu of your Docs or Sheets. No need to reinstall or reauthorize. Moreover, most use a handy side-bar navigation, making the workflow and user interface easy and convenient!

For sheets users, note that besides Doctopus, Autocrat and Flubaroo many other educational Google Scripts have yet to make the move over to the add-ons gallery. Additionally, there are several features that haven't been completed in the new Google Sheets (such as notification rules and protected sheets/ranges). In this case, you'll want to continue using the older version of Sheets. To tell the difference between new sheets and old sheets, look at the bottom right hand corner of your screen for the green check icon (new sheets) or "Try the new Google Sheets" (old sheets). For more information on switching, see this help article. (Note: Docs users don't need to switch versions - only sheets.)


To find out more about add-ons, check out this blog post from the Google Drive blog. Also, if you're a developer or have some savvy coding skills, you can create your own add-ons! Check out this site for more information.

13 comments:

  1. Thanks for the first look at this Jennie! Just what I needed!

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  2. This is awesome kind friend! You rock!

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  3. Thanks for sharing this Jennie. The Easy Bib addition is a great tool students can use when citing sources for research.

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  4. I almost switched us away from scheduled release to take advantage of these! I will just have to be patient and read all of the tutorials so that I'm ready to go in a few days!

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  5. Jennifer, any idea when it is scheduled to release to Google Apps for Education users?

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    1. It depends on whether your domain is on Rapid Release or Scheduled Release. See this link for more info: http://whatsnew.googleapps.com/release-tracks

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    2. I am fairly sure we are scheduled release (since we don't have the Add-ons in our account yet) but I would love to know what the schedule looks like, so in the future I can know how long to wait to tell others/discuss.

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    3. Check out these two pages:
      https://support.google.com/a/answer/4530135
      http://whatsnew.googleapps.com/

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    4. The EasyBib add-on is awesome but also check out Kaizena for adding voice comments in GDocs -- English teachers everywhere will thank you!

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  6. I started using Kaizena for my creative writing class. Now I use it everywhere. Students say they can tell what I really need them to fix when they listen. Much easier than comments. EasyBib will crush the bibliography hassle.

    Thanks, and please keep the info coming.

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  7. Ok I've got the new version of spreadsheet but how do you create an old spreadsheet?

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