All posts by Justin West

Microsoft OneNote – Detailed Tutorial

Microsoft OneNote is a free note taking and organization tool that helps you and your students organize your notes and life quickly and easily. In this article, I’ll show you:

  • How to create and customize notebooks
  • How to insert audio, video, photos, and drawings
  • How to organize your notes with sections and tags
  • How to invite collaborators to your notes

This software is compatible with both Mac and Windows systems and serves as a versatile and easy-to-use tool to help busy students, individuals, and families stay on track, create customized files, and collect important information. The free version offers five gigabytes of data storage, or you can choose a paid subscription and get even more storage and benefits.

To get started, you’ll need to create an account on the Microsoft OneNote website if you don’t already have a Microsoft account. Then you can either use the online version or click “Download” to install the software on your desktop or laptop. Once you’ve you’ve logged in to the online account or you’ve installed OneNote, open it and you’ll get a window with “My Notebooks” at the top of the page.

Log in with your Microsoft account, download software, then click to open a new OneNote window

Notebooks

Now you can create your first notebook. Click the icon that looks like a tiny open notebook on the left side of the toolbar, then click the little “+” sign, and a menu will open.

Click small notebook icon at the top left, then click plus sign to open a “New Notebook” menu

The menu gives you a range of colors to choose from, which can be a handy visual tool to help keep your information organized. For example, you could have all of your office meeting notes in the blue notebook, and personal info like birthdays in the yellow notebook. Once you choose notebook color you can give the notebook a name or title, then hit “Enter,” and the program will save a copy of your new notebook in OneDrive. You can check out my video tutorial on OneDrive here.

Inside of your new notebook, you’ll see that a new Section appears by default, and on the right side of the window, you’ll see an “Add Page” option.

Inside the new notebook you’ll see a blank Section and an “Add Page” option

Each time you create a new notebook you can find it by clicking the open notebook in the top left corner to open a list of all of your notebooks and select which one you’d like to work on. You can also rearrange the order of the notebooks in the list by clicking and dragging. You can close notebooks from this view as well, which only removes them from the menu and does not delete them. If you ever want to reopen a closed notebook, click the folder at the top left of the screen.

Click the notebook icon at top left to open menu of notebooks, then click and drag to rearrange order of notebooks

In OneNote, you have Notebooks, which are divided into Sections, which are divided into Pages, all of which can be titled and customized for easy reference and organization.

Sections

Now choose one of your notebooks and click on the “+” next to the “Sections” tab. This lets you add as many sections as you want to your notebook and name each section according to your needs. For example, you could have a section of vegetarian recipes, a section for steak recipes, and a section for dessert recipes.

Choose a notebook and click plus sign to add sections

You can also right-click on each Section tab to open a menu of options such as Copy, Section Color to help color code your files, or Password Protection to give that section extra security.

Right-click on Section tab to open a menu of options

Pages

You can add pages to each section by clicking “Add Page” on the right side of your section window. Each time you add a page, it will appear in a list on the right side of the window. If at any point you want to rename a page, all you need to do is right-click on the page in your list and choose “Rename,” and just like in your Notebooks menu you can click and drag to change the order of your pages.

Click “Add Page” to create new pages within each section, and use list on right side of window to keep pages organized

Adding Content

When you open a new page, the default setting is a plain white background, but you can change this if you prefer a different color. Up in your toolbar, you can find a “Paper Color” option that opens a menu of colors, as well as a “Paper Style” option that lets you choose between blank, ruled, or grid paper.

Click “Paper Color” in the toolbar to choose the color of the page, or click “Paper Style” to choose blank, ruled, or grid paper

Now you can double click anywhere on your new page and start typing. If you click the “Home” tab, you’ll see the toolbar full of text options where you can choose your font, size, text color, and other options like Bold and Underline.

Click “Home” tab to get a toolbar of text control options

One unique feature of OneNote is that you can double click, start writing text, then double click again on another part of the page and start writing a new line without affecting the first line. You can even click and drag each text box to move them around the page.

A helpful tool for keeping things organized is Tags, which you can add to your page from the menu in the toolbar. For example, you can click on the “To-Do” tag and a new window will open on your page where you can add your list of appointments or reminders for the week, or you could choose “Address” to enter the address of the birthday party you have coming up. Tags are just an easy way to add a visual marker, in the form of an icon, to your text or lists to help you quickly organize and find the information you need on each page.

Choose from the menu of Tags in the top toolbar to add extra information to your page

Another useful tool is “Tables,” which you can also find in your top toolbar under the “Insert” tab. Tables let you create a customized chart where you can keep track of information like your daily workouts, your kids’ homework schedules, or even weekly or monthly meal plans. Each time you open a new Table, you can click on it to select it, and you’ll see a range of options appear at the top of your window, like a color selector if you want to color-code your tables to make them easier to find at a glance.

Click “Tables” under the “Insert” tab to create customizable charts on your page

Back in the “Insert” menu, you also have options like “Picture” to add images to your page, and just like the text and the lists you can click and drag to move the new images anywhere on the page.

Click “Picture” under the “Insert” tab to add images to the page, then click and drag to move image

Other “Insert” options include “PDF Printout” to create a PDF version of your page, “File Attachment” to add files, “Link” to enter a web address and insert a hyperlink into your page, or click “Equation” to add math functions into the page. For example, when the “Equation” window pops up on your page you can enter a simple formula like “55+7=” and then hit Enter, and the answer will appear. This tool also works with more complex equations, and if you get lost, you can find tips and hints about using the tool at https://support.office.com.

Click on “Equation” under the “Insert” tab to open a window where you can type mathematical equations and get the answer by hitting the Enter key

If you want to customize your page even more, you can choose from a range of arrows and shapes in your “Insert” tab, and then use the various “Shapes Formatting” options like color and thickness to make the shapes fit your needs.

Choose from the “Shapes” menu under the “Insert” tab to add customizable shapes and arrows to the page

The final “Insert” option is “Audio Recording.” Simply click the Audio Recording icon, and the program will immediately begin recording sound through your connected or built-in microphone. The recorded sound will appear on your page as an icon that you can click to listen to the sound. This is a useful tool for people who like to make quick audio notes about things like shopping lists, appointment reminders, or spur-of-the-moment creative ideas. A useful feature with the Windows version of OneNote is that the program can search through the words in the audio files in your notes.

Inserting a video into your page is easy! Simply find the video that you want to select, like a Teacher’s Tech video on YouTube, copy the URL, then go back to your page and right-click to open the options menu. Select “Paste,” and the video has now been added to your page and you can click and drag it to move it wherever you want.

You can even play the video right on your page. This can be a fun way to make a list of your favorite crafting tutorials, organize videos of the kids’ dance recitals, or create a page full of favorite recipes by keeping video tutorials, written instructions, and charts of the nutritional information all in one place.

Drawing

Next to the “Insert” tab, you’ll see the “Draw” tab. This tab opens up a menu with options like Pen, Marker, Highlighter, and Eraser, as well as color choices and a line thickness selector. This tool lets you doodle, draw, jot down notes, and circle important images or text. Since OneNote notebooks are shareable, you can also allow collaborators to draw on or add content to your sections and pages. Just click on the “Share” icon at the top of your window, and you can add as many people as you like and choose to let them edit your notebook or just give them permission to view it without the ability to edit.

Click “Share” icon at top right to invite people to view or edit your notebook

Web Clipper

The OneNote Web Clipper is an extension that can really enhance your experience. You can find it in the Google Chrome Web Store or search for whatever browser you prefer. Follow the instructions for downloading the extension to your preferred system, click to get the OneNote Web Clicker button, and add it to your browser toolbar.

When when you go to a page on a website, all you need to do is click on the Web Clipper icon in your toolbar and a new window will open showing the content of the page and an options menu. The menu lets you choose “Article,” which takes the information from the page and puts it into an easy-to-read article format, or select  “Full Page” to take a screenshot of the entire page. You can also choose “Region” to take a screenshot of a section of the page if you only want a single paragraph or photo.

Now you need to select where you want the clipped information to go. If you click “Location” in the Clipper menu, you’ll see a list of your notebooks, and you can choose which one you want the clip to go to. Now you just click “Clip” and the clip you’ve created will be added to the notebook and will appear in the list on the right of your notebook screen. Keep in mind that it may take a few seconds for the clipper to sync with your notebook, so don’t panic if the clip doesn’t show up instantly.

Click the Web Clicker icon to select a specific web page and use the menu to choose how the selection is formatted and choose location

Searching

Once you start creating more and more notebooks, sections, and pages, it’s going to be impossible to remember where everything is, and that’s where the Search feature comes in. Simply go to the search bar at the top of your OneNote page and enter your keywords. Let’s say you clipped and saved a veggie burger recipe and now you can’t remember where you put it. Just start typing “Burger” in the search window, and it will show you the recipe and exactly which notebook and section it’s in. One of the coolest features of OneNote is its Optical Character Recognition capability, which can search for words within pictures and scanned documents you’ve uploaded.

Use the Search tool at the top of the OneNote page and enter names or keywords to find files

Now you’re ready to let OneNote help make your life more streamlined at home, at work, and at play. As you get more comfortable with this tool, you can choose from a range of apps and extensions to make OneNote even more versatile. For people on the go, there’s a OneNote app that you can download to your mobile device to help you stay organized no matter where you are.

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Self-grading Quizzes with Google Forms and Google Classroom

You can create self-grading quizzes with Google Forms and share them with your class using Google Classroom! In this article, I’ll show you:

  • How to create self-grading quizzes
  • How to see the results of your quiz and give feedback
  • How to share your quiz with the class on Google Classroom

Create a self-grading quiz

Open a new Form from your Google Drive screen, if you haven’t seen the Google Forms Tutorial, check that out first and then come back here. Click the gear icon to open the “Settings” menu, and choose “Quizzes” at the top.

Open a new form, open the Settings menu, then choose “Quizzes”

Click on “Make this a quiz” and a range of new options will appear. You can choose when the quiz grade is released so that students can see their grade immediately after they submit the quiz, or you can delay the release in case you want time to review the results. You can also decide whether or not students can see their missed questions, the correct answers, and the point values of questions simply by clicking on the appropriate checkboxes.

Click make this a quiz then click the checkboxes to customize your quiz in the quiz Settings window

Return to your practice form and enter a test question. Set the answer format to “Multiple choice” and enter three or four possible answers, then note at the bottom of the window you now see the words “Answer key.” Click on “Answer key” and you’ll be able to mark the correct answer for this specific question.

Enter a test question with four multiple choice answers on the quiz, then click on “Answer key” to mark the correct answer for the question

It’s important to note that the “Self-grading quizzes” option only works with the Multiple choice, Checkboxes, and Drop-down answer options, but since these are such popular and versatile options I think you’ll get a lot of use out of this new feature.

At the top right of the “Answer Key” window you can assign how many points this question is worth using the up and down arrows. You can also click on “Add feedback” on your Answer key, which allows you to write a message that will pop up after students select each answer. This could be something as simple as “Good job!” for correct answers, or a brief sentence or paragraph explaining why their answer was incorrect.  

Click “Add feedback” to create informative or supportive messages that will appear when students answer questions

You can also click the “Link” icon to add a link to the “Add feedback” option in case, for example, you want to send the student to a page or video with more information about the question or topic to help refresh their memory.

link to feedback for more in depth information after questions in Google Forms

You can add more questions and set the correct answer or answers for each, as well as any feedback you may want to leave.

You can always click “Preview” to see how your practice quiz looks and test out the self-grading option. This is a good practice before sending the quiz to your class. Click “Preview” in the top right, then pretend you’re a student and select a “correct” answer for each question, then click “Submit.” If you have selected the quiz option to let the students see their correct and incorrect answers, when you click “Submit” you will see a pop-up window and can click on “View your score” to see which questions you got right and which you missed, as well as the total points you’ve earned. The image below shows what results of a quiz will look like with all the settings selected on the left.

preview example side by side with settings

In the Editing view, you can click on “Responses” at the top and see all of the quizzes that have been submitted so far. You can view the data as as summary, or check how each student did individually by clicking either “Summary” or “Individual”. And now, instead of having to grade each quiz by hand, you have all of the information in a neat visual presentation already prepared for you!

responses from Google forms self-grading quizzes

If you want to load this data into a spreadsheet all you need to do is click the green icon on the “Responses” form, create a new spreadsheet, and the data will be automatically loaded into the sheet so you can easily see individual answers, scores, and other important information.

Click the green icon in the quiz “Responses” window to create a new spreadsheet with the quiz data already loaded and organized

Share your quiz with your class in Google Classroom

Now that you’re familiar with the basics of using Google Forms and creating Quizzes, I’ll show you how easy it is to share with your class and add a new Form to your Google Classroom. If you haven’t used Google Classroom yet, check out this tutorial to set up your Google Classroom.

Once you have your practice quiz completed, click send at the top right corner.

click send on your completed quiz in Google forms

This will open a “Send“ form with a range of options for ways you can send or attach the form. I could send this out to individual emails or a group. For example, I have all my 5th and 6th graders in an email group. You can learn how to set up groups in Google here.

You can also embed your quiz form in a website. To share with Google Classroom, choose “Link” first by clicking the chain link icon. You can check the “Shorten URL” box to automatically shorten the URL to your quiz for easier sharing, and then click “Copy” to copy the link to your clipboard and later paste it into your Google Classroom.

Click “Send” on the Responses page to open a Send window, then choose “Link” as the sending method, shorten link, copy

You can also load the form directly into your Google Classroom with just a few simple steps. Go to your Classroom, create a New Assignment with the plus sign at the bottom right, and then click the Google Drive icon at the bottom and select the Google Form that is your quiz.

Open a New Assignment, select the form in your Drive, and click “Add” to attach it to the new assignment

Click “Assign” and your new assignment will appear in your Classroom with the quiz form attached. All your students need to do is click on the assignment and it will open the quiz. When students have finished and submitted their tests you’ll be able to click “View responses in Sheets” and the answers will already be loaded into the appropriate columns for you.

click “View responses in Sheets” to see the submitted answers on your new spreadsheet

Now you’re ready to make and send self-grading quizzes to your class using Google Forms and Classroom!

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The New Google Forms – Detailed Tutorial

Google Forms is an online form builder that lets you create versatile questionnaires, quizzes, and forms quickly and easily. In this article, I’ll show you:

  • How to create a custom Google Form from scratch
  • How to preview and test your forms
  • How to add images or videos to your forms
  • How to view and use the responses to your forms

Opening a new form

First, go into your Google Drive and click on the red “New” button at the top-left of the window, then click “More”, and then click on “Google Forms”. This will open a window with a new Google Form labeled “Untitled Form” at the top.

Click New in the top left corner, then More, then Google Forms

There’s another way you can open a new Google Form that may feel more comfortable or convenient. Go to your Google Drive Window, then click on the square icon in the top right corner that is made out of small black squares. Clicking on this icon will open a list of Google apps.

Click square icon at the top left side of the Drive screen to pull up the Apps menu, or click more to find Forms

You should see a purple icon named “Forms.” If the icon doesn’t show up at first, scroll down and click on “More” at the bottom of the apps list.

When you find the purple “Forms” icon, click on it and you will get a message that says “Do you want to add this as a shortcut?” Select “Yes” to add the Forms icon on your main apps window, so it will be easy to find next time. You can also click, hold, and drag to arrange each icon in the shortcuts menu and place them in the order you like.

When you enter Google Forms from the app shortcut panel, it will take you to the “Template” section of Forms and you should see a template named “Blank” on the right side of the Template window. Click on the “Blank” template, and you will now have a new form just like the one you got in the first example where you clicked “New”, then “More”, then “Google Forms”.

When you click the purple Forms icon it will open the Forms Template window, select Blank form

Give your form a name by clicking “Untitled Form” in the top left corner and adding your title. I always do this right away to help keep track of it.

Click on the top left of the form to write a new name for the form, then hit Enter to save

Customizing Your Form

If you don’t like the default colors on your form’s header bar and background, go up to the top-right of your screen and click on the palette icon. This lets you change the color scheme of your Form. You can also click on the icon in the bottom right corner of the color options and select from a list of photos and designs, including some animated options. These look nicer than plain colors and work great if you’re using Forms to make a birthday party invitation or a brunch menu.

Click the palette icon at top of page to open a color selector or click bottom right of color selector to open a menu of images

You can also upload your own photos to make each form a unique work of art. Click on the “Upload Photo” at the bottom of the images menu, then follow the instructions for uploading. Your photo needs to be at least 800 pixels wide to fit into the header bar on the form, and after you load the image you’ll see a crop window to choose what part of the image you want to show.

Click Upload Photo and follow prompts to add your own images

Creating Questions

The form starts with a default multiple choice question that you can easily delete or edit. Click on the trash can icon at the bottom of the question to get rid of it.

The title of your form will be the same as the file title you entered in the top-left corner earlier, but you can change it and add a description to explain what your form is about.

Type a preferred title or name at the top of the form

Now it’s time to add some questions. On the right side of your form you’ll see a vertical toolbar. At the top of the toolbar is a “+” inside a circle. Click on it and a new question will appear on your form. This question will automatically be multiple choice, but you can change that by clicking the dropdown titled “Multiple Choice” and choosing a different style of question.

Click on the plus sign to add a question to your Google Form and click “Multiple choice” to open a menu of answer format options

I usually start a quiz or questionnaire with getting a student’s name, so I’ll choose “Short Answer” as the first question format. This lets people type words or symbols instead of just clicking a checkbox. Type in your question in the “Question” blank, and choose required at the bottom right of the question if you want to force someone to answer that question to complete the form.

Click Required to make filling out a question or line mandatory in google forms

You can add the next question by clicking on the “+” icon on the right again. Type your question, choose the type of question, and set it as “Required” if you want to make an answer mandatory.

You can add several different kinds of questions to your form. To add a multiple choice question, click on the “+” again leave it as a multiple choice question. In this example I’ve asked “What is the largest planet?” and I can add the answer choices by first filling in “Option 1” and then clicking “Add option” below that and filling it in. You can choose “Add other” if you want to allow the option for someone to write in their own answer.

Click Option 1 to type in an answer, Add option to add another option

Previewing a Form

You can preview your form any time by clicking the little eye icon at the top of the screen. That will open a new window that shows you how the form will look, complete with the color scheme and question formatting that you chose.

Click Preview icon at top of page to view the form as you edit

The Preview page works exactly like the form will work when you send it out, so if you just click “Submit” at the bottom you’ll see that any of the questions you marked as “Required” will show an error in red. I usually don’t set questions as required until the last step of making my form, because I like to test how the answers will look in Preview mode as I’m building the form.

Required sections are highlighted in red if the answer is not filled out before submitting

Adding a Section

Now let’s say you have a list of 20 or 30 questions but you don’t want to force people to scroll and scroll forever to get to the end, because not only can that be annoying but it can look somewhat unprofessional in some situations. To fix this, you can add a Section by clicking on the bottom icon in your vertical toolbar. This will bring up a new Section titled “Section 2 of 2”, and now your survey, test, or invitation is broken up into smaller sections or pages that are easier to handle and appear more organized to the reader.

Click the bottom icon in the vertical toolbar to add a new section

Now you can give the new section a name, we’re choosing “Earth” in the video example, and then continue adding and writing questions. Preview your form again and you’ll see that the form now has a “Next” button at the bottom, which indicates that there’s another section coming up, but since you marked some of the lines as “Required”, people will still need to fill out all of the information before they can move on to the next page.

If you want to turn off the “Required” setting all you need to do is go back to your form, click on the question or line, and click on the little dot next to “Required” to switch it off. Now you will have an easier time previewing all of your pages or sections as you work.

If you decide that you want people to fill in an email first on the form instead of their name, you don’t have to delete the lines and start over, just move your mouse to the top of the question area until you see it turn into a little “Move” icon. Then you can click and drag each question into whatever order you like.

Click and hold at the top of each question to reposition question on the form

Also, If you decide to delete a section entirely you can click on the tiny row of dots in the top corner of that section, and that will show you a small menu of options. Click “Delete” and it’s gone.

To delete a question, click row of dots at top right of screen to open tools menu, then click Delete

Now let’s try another type of answer formatting. Click on the plus sign to add another question, then click on “Multiple choice” to open the answer options menu, and choose “Checkboxes.”

This option might be handy if you’re creating a survey, or maybe planning a party and asking friends about menu preferences or specific days that work for their schedules.

You can also create “Dropdown” questions that open a dropdown menu with the answer options you enter.

Select the Dropdown answer option and Preview to see dropdown menu next to the question

Other answer format options include:

  • Linear Scale: this gives people a scale where they can choose from one to five, or from one to ten, which can be handy if you need people to rate a service or to tell you how much they enjoy a particular flavor of beverage.
  • Multiple Choice grid: this option allows you to build rows and columns with multiple answer choices.
  • Paragraph: this option creates lines where people can type or write their answers out. You might want an essay-style answer, or you could possibly use this option at the end of your form if you plan to ask people if they have additional thoughts, opinions, or answers they’d like to share.

other format options

Adding Images and Videos

First, you can add a new title to your form by clicking on the “TT” icon in your vertical toolbar. This doesn’t create a new section, it merely lets you add a new title in case you want to add more information as people progress through the form, or use it to introduce an image or a video that’s coming up next.

add a title to your form

To insert an image into your form, click the center icon on your vertical toolbar. It looks like a small landscape image. This will open a window where you can use keywords to find specific subjects. You can also upload your own images from your personal albums or your Drive, or enter a URL to insert an image from a website or page. Once you select the image you want you’ll see it appear on your form. If the image is too large, you can resize it by clicking and dragging the corner.

Add an image to the form and click on the corner of the image to resize

You can also center or align the image by clicking the alignment icons below the image, and add a title at the top of the image if you like. Remember that you can click on the “Preview” icon at the top of the screen as many times as you want to make sure you like how the form looks.

To add a video to your form, click the “Video” arrow icon on your vertical toolbar and it’ll bring up a window where you can search YouTube using keywords, or enter a URL if you have a specific website or page in mind. You can resize videos just like images, and add a title at the top if you like.

Click Video icon in vertical toolbar to open a YouTube search window

 

Settings

At the top of your forms widow you’ll see a small gear icon. This takes you to “Settings” and gives you even more options for customizing your form. For example, the “Shuffle questions order” option will show each person a different version of the form with the questions in a different order on each copy of the form. This could be really helpful if you want to make it harder for students to share answers during tests. However, if you have images or videos that are related to a specific question then this option will mess up the order, so use your best judgement when using the “Shuffle” option.

Click gear icon in top right corner to open the Settings menu

Other tools in the Settings menu include a progress bar that you can activate to let people see how far along in the test or survey they are, and an option to limit who can access and fill out the form. You may want to make it available only to students at your school, or only close friends and family. You also have an additional Actions menu in the top right corner of your screen.

This menu has options for copying and printing your form, or you can let other people help create and edit the form by clicking “Add collaborators” to make it a group project. You can also choose “Add-ons” from the Actions menu, which opens a new window where you can select from a wide range of apps and extras to enhance your forms.

Click row of dots in top right corner of the screen to open Actions menu

 

Additional question modifications

If you click on one of your questions and then click the row of dots in the bottom right corner you’ll see two more options for customizing your questions: “Hint text”, which lets people ask for a hint to the answer or can provide some extra clarification to the question, and “Data Validation”, which makes people answer questions the way you want them to. For example, if you ask people to enter their name and instead they try to enter an email address, they will get a notification that their answer is not correct.

Click dots in bottom corner of question field to see additional options

 

Responses

Once you’ve got your questions and answers formatted and you think your form is ready to go, click Preview one more time and then try filling out all of the lines and questions you just created, as if you were someone taking a test or survey. Once you get to the end, click “Submit” on the Preview form. Now go back to your working form that you’ve been editing. At the top of the form you will now see a number next to “Responses”. This tells you that someone has successfully filled out your form. If you click on “Responses” you’ll get a new window where you can see all of the answers that have been submitted and choose to see either individual responses from each person, or a summary of all of the submitted answers in the form of a pie chart.

Fill out form in Preview view, then click Responses on working copy to see the response data

If you need or want to have the response data on a spreadsheet you can click on the small green icon at the top of the Responses window. This will allow you to either create a new spreadsheet or import the data to an existing spreadsheet.

click green icon to open a spreadsheet creation menu

You can also open a menu in the top right corner of the Responses window that gives you more options such as “Download responses,” “Delete responses,” or “Get email notifications” so you can see when new responses are submitted. Now you can see how easy it is to get instant data and evaluate the responses, whether your form is a school test, a product survey, or an opinion poll on the best day to throw a surprise party!

click three dots in responses to see more options for your Google Form

If you want to start a new form, but perhaps aren’t quite done editing the first one, you can click the back arrow at the top left of your Forms screen and that will take you back to the Forms Templates page, and your current form will already be saved under “Recent forms.”

Click back arrow at top left of Form screen to return to Templates menu

Thank for reading! You’re now ready to create a brand new test, survey, menu, invitation, or any number of other kinds of forms, and if you ever run into trouble you can open the Actions menu on your Forms page and click on “Help Center” to get assistance.

Now check out the Self-grading Quizzes with Google Forms plus Google Classroom to get the ultimate automated quiz setup for your class!

How to make a YouTube Channel

How To Make a YouTube Channel and Screen Recording

Making a YouTube channel gives you a powerful platform to upload and share knowledge. You can also use YouTube to record your screen for free. In this article, I’ll show you:

  • How to make a YouTube channel
  • How to customize your YouTube channel
  • How to optimize your channel for search
  • How to record your screen for tutorials or classes for free with YouTube

Start your YouTube channel by signing into your Google account or creating an account here: https://accounts.google.com/SignUp

Once you’ve confirmed everything and logged in, you’ll see the account screen, as shown below. Click the grid of small squares in the top-right corner and this will open the app launcher. Then click YouTube from the selection of Google Apps.

01 Google account page and click grid squares at top right

Make sure you’re logged in to the correct Google account by checking the icon in the top-right corner. If you have multiple Google accounts, YouTube may default to a different account than the one you want for your new YouTube channel. Once you’ve confirmed you’re on the right account, click “Creator Studio” below the account name.

02 check the top right account icon in YouTube, click creator studio

If you’ve never created a YouTube channel with this account, you should be taken to a mostly empty page that says “You must create a channel to upload videos.” Click “Create a channel.” Then you will be prompted to enter the name you would like to use for your channel. Think about this carefully, because there are limits on how many changes you can make to your channel name within a certain period of time. Once you’ve decided on a workable name, click “Create channel.”

This will open your YouTube channel video manager, which of course won’t have any videos in it yet. At the top of the left-side navigation you’ll see “Dashboard.” The dashboard shows you a snapshot of what is happening in your YouTube channel, including some analytics. I’ll go more in detail on more analytics tools later in this article. For now, click on “VIEW CHANNEL” below your name near the top of the page.

03 dashboard and view channel from video manager

At the start, every YouTube channel looks boring, so it’s best to add a channel icon and a background image. If you don’t already have graphics for these, Canva is a great, free tool you can use to create custom graphics that are already the right size to work with your YouTube channel. You can see how to do that here.

When you click the small pencil on your channel icon you’ll receive a notice that it may take a few minutes or longer for your changes to take effect. Click “Edit” and you will be taken to your Google profile page where you can upload a channel icon, which is the same as your Google profile image. This is the place you can also use to change your channel name if necessary. Once you’ve added a photo to your Google profile image/YouTube channel icon, close the tab and you should see your YouTube channel again.

Click on the blue button in the top middle of the screen that reads “Add channel art.” Here you can upload a photo you have saved on your computer, use a photo that’s previously been uploaded to your Google account, or select from stock images in the gallery. If you’re uploading your own image, make sure it is at least 2048 by 1152 pixels. The optimal size image for YouTube channel art is 2560 by 1440 pixels.

04 click the pencil to edit your YouTube channel icon, view channel and customize photo and background image

Channel art shows differently across devices, and once you’ve chosen an image, you will see how it will be displayed on a desktop, TV, and mobile device. Click “Adjust the crop” in the bottom left corner to make changes to your image if needed to make it appear better across devices.

adjust the crop of YouTube channel art

If you’re making a custom graphic, you should experiment with the custom crop tool first and understand that only the middle strip will be shown on computers and mobile devices, so that is where you want any text or highlights to be shown.

YouTube image crop only shows the middle

Now, click “Video Manager” just above and to the left of your channel art. It is very easy to upload videos from here. You simply click the up arrow in the top-right corner and then click the large arrow in the middle of the screen you are taken to. From a dropdown menu below the large arrow on the Upload Screen, you can choose whether you want your video to be public, private, or unlisted. You can change this setting later if you like. If you set the video as public, anyone can view it. If unlisted, someone needs your link to view the video, and private means only you can view your video. You can either drag and drop video files into the big arrow, or you can click the big arrow and upload files from your computer.

YouTube upload button

While your video is uploading and processing, you can add details about the video like the title, description, and tags. You want to make especially sure that your title matches what you expect people to be searching for. For example, if you’re making a tutorial on baking a cake, you should title it “Tutorial for Cake Baking” or “How To Bake a Cake.” Write a lot of information in the description and make sure to use the keywords that you want to be found with. Add links in your description for your social media, website, and anywhere else you want viewers to go. Tags are also important to being found. You can enter up to 500 characters in the tags box, so make them count. Enter tags separated by a comma, and get as detailed as possible with as many tag combinations as you can come up with. I use a tool called TubeBuddy to help find tags that are relevant and see how well I’m ranking for tags I’m using. From the Upload Screen, you can also set it as Public, Private, or Unlisted. I usually start with my videos as Private from the upload, and make them Public once I’ve checked everything and made sure it’s right. You can also add your newly uploaded video to a playlist or multiple playlists directly from the Upload Screen. You can then choose one of the default thumbnails, which is just a screenshot from your video, or you can add a custom thumbnail later, which I’ve explained here. Finally, you can choose to Tweet your video directly from the Upload Screen, and you can then add another video by clicking the “+ Add more videos” button on the bottom right.

add details to your YouTube video and make sure it aligns with what someone is searching for

From the Video Manager, you can always edit any video you have and return to the Upload Screen. Just make sure to save any changes you make by clicking the blue “Save changes” button at the top or bottom of the screen.

It’s a good idea to verify your channel. You can start this process by going to “Channel” in the left-side navigation and selecting “Status and features.” You can view the detailed instructions for verifying your YouTube channel here. If your channel is verified, you can add custom thumbnails to your videos, and you can set up monetization through Adsense, offer paid content, or live stream on YouTube.

YouTube channel verification shows all the things you can do if verified

If you click the gear just below the channel art at the right of your Channel Overview, you can change your Channel Settings. You may want to change the privacy settings of your channel here, otherwise people will be able to see all the videos you have liked on YouTube, as well as your subscriptions and saved playlists. From the Channel Settings screen, you can also allow customization of your channel, which will let you do things like add a trailer and suggest content to your visitors.

Channel settings can let you add customization and control what people see

Channel settings can let you add customization and control what people see

With “Customize the layout of your channel” enabled, you will see a navigation menu at the top of your channel, much like you would see on a typical website.

channel overview with navigation menu

Now, you can access an “About” page for your channel using the navigation menu. Here, you can edit your channel description and add links that will show up overlaid on your channel art. These links can be to your website, landing page, social media, or any other link you want to send people to. You can choose from the dropdown how many of the links you would like to be overlaid on your channel art. If you choose “5,” then the first five links you add will be overlaid on your channel art, as shown below, with the first one being the largest and most prominent.

add links to your YouTube channel from the About page

what YouTube links look like overlaid on channel art

I use playlists with my channel, and I arrange them with a horizontal layout. From the Home section of your channel, click “Add section.” Then you can choose what you want this section to show, such as a playlist or your most popular videos. You can choose whether you want that selection of videos displayed in a horizontal row or vertical row. As you create more videos that match whatever selection you’ve added to a section–such as a specific playlist–they will automatically populate that section.

add sections dropdowns

what sections look like on my YouTube channel page

You can even select what you want new visitors to see on your page versus returning subscribers. You may want to have a channel trailer or short explainer video shown whenever a new visitor sees your page. From your page overview, at the top you can choose to view your channel as yourself, a subscriber, or as a new visitor. This can help you get a feel for how your channel will look depending upon who is visiting it.

new visitor trailer upload area

“It’s important to play with the look of your channel and give it a feel using custom channel art, custom thumbnails, having your picture on the profile–all these things can give it an interesting look to set it apart from other people.”

Your dashboard shows you a snapshot of important information, and you can customize it by dragging sections to where you want them. You can also change the settings for each section, or widget, by clicking the gear icon, and you can add new widgets by clicking the “Add widget” button in the top right corner.

dashboard drag button, gear icon, and add widget

In the Video Manager, we can add and edit videos and create playlists. You can also edit playlists and add a description to each playlist. The descriptions on your playlists are another searchable thing that can help Google find your videos, so it is very important to fill those out using keywords that you think people will search whenever they are looking for your videos. You can also add videos directly into a playlist from the Playlist section of the Video Manager.

playlist section of the video manager

add description to edit playlist or add video to playlist

Livestreaming is very important for YouTube channel growth, and you can create events in the Livestream section on the left-side navigation of your YouTube channel admin page. I have a full video tutorial on how to do that here. We’ll use this to make the screen recording in the last section of this article.

Live Streaming

The Community section shows your messages and comments from viewers. You can directly engage with your audience in this section.

community section

Under the Channel section, you should consider your Upload Defaults. I set my videos to automatically be private when I upload them, so that I can check everything out before the public sees it. I also set my default category to Education, since all my videos involve education in some way. We’ve already discussed why you should verify your channel under the Status and Features area of the Channel section, and I’ll cover the Featured Content, Branding, and additional Advanced options in another article. You won’t need to worry about these when you’re starting your channel, but they can be useful for encouraging action from your audience later on.

upload defaults

YouTube has a powerful and useful Analytics section that gives you insight into what’s working in your videos and channel as a whole.

The Create section has an Audio Library of music that you can use in your videos, just make sure you follow the instructions on certain songs that require attribution. There is also a Video Editor in the Create section that is built right into YouTube. It is not the best, but it can be used to line up video clips with audio backgrounds, apply effects, and create good looking videos. You can see my tutorial on using the YouTube video editor here.

create section with audio library

TubeBuddy is a powerful add on that I use to optimize my channel. It will show what tags I’m ranking for and suggest tags for me. I go back and change my titles, descriptions, and tags from time to time to help them rank better and get more search hits.

TubeBuddy tag ranking area

Once your channel is verified, you can set up monetization and choose the type of ads you want to be shown on each video. If your video is over 10 minutes long, you can choose more types of ads and place ads to show multiple times in each video.

set up ads on YouTube channel

How to use YouTube as a free screen recorder

Screen recording is a powerful teaching tool for showing people how to do something on a computer. Most people don’t realize that you can record your screen quickly, easily, and for free with YouTube. First, click on your account icon in the top-right corner and select “Creator Studio.”

select creator studio

Select “Live Streaming” from the left-side navigation and click on “Events.” Then click “New live event” in the top-right corner.

Livestreaming and events

new live event

For screen recording purposes, it’s best to set your live event to private. Otherwise, people can and probably will see it live. Select “Private” from the dropdown on the right side when you set up your event. Also, make sure that “Type” is set to “Quick (using Google Hangouts on Air)” because Google Hangouts has the screen sharing function we’ll be using. Then click “Go Live Now” at the bottom right to get started.

set your live event to private and type to Quick with Google hangouts on air

When Google Hangouts opens, choose the “Screenshare” icon on the left side. A window will open that lets you choose what you want to screenshare from the open programs on your computer.

Screenshare icon

Once you’ve chosen the program you want to share, go back to Google Hangouts and select “Start broadcast.” This starts the recording of the program you selected to screenshare in the last step. Now, record your screen and voiceover, and when you’re done click “Stop broadcast” on Google Hangouts.

start broadcast from google hangouts

After stopping your broadcast, you can close Google Hangouts and refresh your Video Manager in YouTube. Your video will be automatically uploading, and once it has finished processing, you can download it from YouTube or share it.

Now you’re ready to share videos and record your screen using YouTube!

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How to Create Free Graphic Designs With Canva

How to Create Free Graphic Designs With Canva

Canva is an online graphic design program with free and paid versions that lets you create professional graphics in almost any format quickly and easily. In this article, I’ll show you:

  • How to start from scratch with a blank graphic
  • How to quickly create graphics from one of Canva’s templates
  • How to enhance and alter images in Canva
  • How to share your images right from the source

Visit Canva.com and sign up with email, Facebook, or Google. The first screen you see will be the storage space for any designs you’ve worked on and saved, and it will show templates you can use to get started. If you don’t want to use a template, then click “Use custom dimensions” in the top right corner. Enter your desired dimensions in pixels, millimeters, or inches, and then you get a blank design to work with.

opening Canva screen and templates

I like working with the templates, because there’s already so many to choose from and they are labeled with a recommended potential use such as “Facebook ad” or “eBook cover.” They even have templates for modern and professional-looking resumés, certificates, infographics, and more. I create my YouTube thumbnails and channel art directly from Canva templates–it’s easy and looks great!

In this example, we’ll create a book cover. Once you know how to bring in pictures and change fonts, you’ll realize just how easy it is to make professional graphics with Canva. Some of the templates are paid, but I tend to get by just fine with the free ones. Once you select the template, in this case a book cover, you can click on the text to change it. You can select different fonts and change the size and color of the text.

choosing fonts and templates in Canva

You can also delete whole text boxes from the text toolbar, or choose from a selection of other options to alter transparency, style, alignment and more using the dropdown arrow on the right side of the toolbar. This dropdown menu also lets you move the layer of text forward or backward to organize overlapping layers.

completely customize text for your graphic design

You can also easily copy a whole page by clicking the two overlapping squares outside the right side of your graphic. You can use this to work on two graphics at the same time with minor adjustments between them for testing what looks best.

copy to work on duplicate versions of a project

It’s really easy to work with text in Canva. You can click the Text section on the left-hand menu and choose to add header, subheader, or body text. Or, you can choose from a selection of text designs complete with stylized fonts that look good together and even complementing borders and background shapes.

premade text layers

You can also add elements from the left-hand menu. These include icons, shapes, charts, grids, and photos. The elements menu also holds over 1,000,000 illustrations of everything from hot dogs to rocket ships, and you can search the descriptions to find the illustration you want.  Elements include free and paid selections, but once you add any of them you can change the size, color, and opacity to make it work for your design. You can also move, resize, and rotate any layer using typical click and drag points on the frame of each layer.

elements in Canva

You can totally edit illustrations

If you double click on the background, you can see the whole background image, which is often larger than the design itself. You can that image around. When you’ve selected the background image, an image editing toolbar will appear below the image. You can use this to add a filter to the image and adjust how intensely you want that filter to enhance and alter it. You can also choose “Advanced options” and edit the levels of saturation, contrast, vignette, and more on the image. You can also crop images from this menu.

complete image enhancement and editing

If you want to change the image on a template completely, just delete it and select Uploads on the left-hand menu. From here you can upload an image that is stored on your computer, or choose an image you’ve uploaded to Canva previously. You can also connect to your Facebook account and add images directly from Facebook. Another option is to navigate to the Elements section and choose from over 1,000,000 free and paid photos that are supplied by Canva. Just choose the one you want and drag it into your creation. With all images, you can edit the image levels like contrast, tint, and blurriness from right inside Canva, or you can add a filter.

upload photos to Canva

Once you like what you have, you can share it immediately–directly from Canva. You can Tweet your image, post it to Facebook, email it, or copy a link to your image. You can also download the image in a variety of formats, such as JPG for web, high-quality PNG, standard PDF, or high-quality PDF for print material. You can also simply make your image public on Canva for other people to see on the website.

share and download images

The free version of Canva is packed with useful tools, but if you’re creating a lot of graphics and purchasing a lot of items that aren’t free, it might save money to get a subscription for unlimited use of paid items. The subscription starts with a 30-day, free trial and costs $12.95 per month for the monthly subscription or $9.95 per month for an annual subscription.

what you get with subscription page

Now you’re ready to create and share amazing designs using Canva!

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How To Get Started With Google Classroom

How to Get Started With Google Classroom

Google Classroom is an online graphic design program with free and paid versions that lets you create professional graphics in almost any format quickly and easily. In this article, I’ll show you:

  • How to create a class in Google Classroom
  • How to add students to your class
  • How to quickly add assignments and start discussions
  • How to control the abilities of your students to post
  • How to manage your stream and archived classes

Google Classroom is most easily accessed by simply searching “google classroom” and clicking the link, as shown below. It will not show up in your usual menu of Google apps, but you can add a shortcut to Google Classroom to Chrome by going to the Chrome web store here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/search/google%20classroom.

Google Classroom link

You have to have a Google account that uses Google Apps for Education (now G Suite for Education). A regular Google account won’t work, so you’ll have to set one up using an email address associated with your school. If your school does not have a G Suite for Education account, you can request one here: https://support.google.com/a/answer/2856827?hl=en.

Once you’ve logged in with your G Suite for Education account, select Teacher at the bottom right, and you’ll be taken to the introduction screen. From the intro screen, you can click the plus sign at the top right to create a class.

Google Classroom intro screen

Create a class in Google Classroom

After clicking Create a class, fill in the class name and section that you want and click Create. The course will be generated with a random theme, but you can click Select theme on the right side of the background image to select a new one. You can choose from a gallery of image-based themes or select a simple pattern theme. All the border, button, and background colors will update depending upon the theme you choose.

change classroom theme

If you click the About button on the classroom menu, you can add extra information like a class title, description, the room or meeting place for the class, or even invite another teacher to collaborate on the class. The About area also shows where your class is stored. The default location is a folder in your Google Drive that was made when you created the class.

About your Google classroom

When you create your first class, a folder called Classroom will be added to your Google Drive, and a subfolder with the name and section of your new class is created. As you create more classes, they will each generate a subfolder in the Classroom folder.

Classroom folder

If you click the three horizontal lines icon in the top left corner you will access a navigation menu. This menu lets you jump to see all the classes you have, your calendar, and any open assignments. From here you can click Classes and see all the classes you’ve created within Google Classroom. After choosing Classes, you can click the three dots to the right of each class name and either rename or archive the class from there.

Top left corner navigation for classroom

Within each Google classroom class, you can see a classroom code at the bottom left that you can share with students. When your student visits Google Classroom, they will click the plus sign at the top of the intro screen, but they will choose Join class instead of Create class. This is where they will enter the code associated with your class.

Classroom code

You can also click Students in the classroom menu and select Invite from the Students area. This will open the contacts associated with your G Suite for Education enabled account, and you can select from theses contacts to invite students to your class by checking the box by their names.

Invite students

select contacts to add

A valuable tip is to go ahead and set your posting and commenting permissions for students. I recommend you set permissions to “Only teacher can post and comment” at the start. If you have younger students, you’ll usually end up with a lot of silly or potentially disruptive posts in the class at the start if you don’t do this. Sometimes, it can be best to restrict the posting and commenting permissions of students until you have an actual discussion or question ready to be considered.

set posting permissions of students

All the action inside one of your Google classes occurs in the “stream.” In the bottom right hand corner of the classroom, you’ll see a circle with a plus sign in it. When you click on it, you’ll see your options for adding to the classroom stream. You can create an announcement, create an assignment, ask a question, or reuse a post.

Stream options

If you choose to add an announcement, you simply type what you want to say to the class and then choose any attachments you want to share. You can attach files, videos, Google Drive files, or links.

Add an announcement to your stream

You can edit anything in the class stream by clicking the three vertical dots on the right side of each item in the stream.

Edit classroom stream items

Assignments are the most common thing I post to my stream. Simply click Assignment from the stream menu (accessed by the plus sign in the circle at the bottom right of the classroom). Then, enter a name for the assignment and a description or instructions. Using the attachment options, you could attach a PDF or video with information to study, and include a link to a Google Form (check out this article on self-grading quizzes) where the homework or quiz questions are handled for you. You can set the due date and post it to the entire class.

Add assignments to your classroom stream

Once the assignment is posted, you can see which students have completed it and which ones haven’t.

See which students have completed work

If you want to quickly assess students in your class, get feedback, or start a discussion, simply add a question to the classroom stream and set a due date. You’ll be given the options to let students edit their answers and post replies to other students answers. If you allow students to reply to other students’ answers, it can help facilitate a discussion.

Set student interaction permissions for questions

As you add new items to the stream, they will be posted at the top of the stream and push other items down. The nearest upcoming deadline for assignments or questions is shown in a box on the left. If you want to move an older post to the top, simply click the three dots on the right side and click Move to top.

Move a post to the top of the class stream

There aren’t too many settings to worry about inside Google Classroom. One very important setting to consider is the permissions of students to post and comment on items in the stream, which we already discussed. The other setting to consider is the email notifications setting. You can access this by clicking the three horizontal lines in the top-left corner and selecting Settings at the bottom of the navigation menu. Here, you’ll see a checkbox that lets you turn email notifications on or off. I tend to leave them off because I don’t want to get an email every time someone does something in my Google classes.

Classroom settings in G Suite

From the top-left corner navigation menu, you can also access archived classes and restore them if you like.

Now you’re ready to efficiently run your classes with Google Classroom!

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