Friday, 17 June 2016

Using the New Google Sites (Video Overview)

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The new Google Sites was announced this week and is currently in early access. I was lucky enough to get hands on and see whether Google has truly given Sites some much needed love.

For years, users have been asking Google to update Sites. Whilst it's a great tool and hugely customisable, we all know deep down that it just looked a bit, well, old! 

The new Sites has clearly been built from the ground up. It has a beautiful user interface which makes use of Google's material design principles and is just as intuitive as their other tools like Forms (which also recently received a refresh).

To give myself a challenge, I decided to attempt to rebuild my personal site using Google Sites. I originally used a Bootstrap template and it took me nearly 3 days to get everything just as I wanted it. With the new Sites I achieved the same result in half an hour!

Watch the video below to get an overview of how this awesome tool works and keep an eye out for another post soon where I'll dive further into the tools available and discuss the things that I think we're likely to see added in future.

This post also appeared on the AppsEvents blog.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Organise Your Email Before it Hits Your Inbox #gafetip

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Most schools and businesses that go Google take advantage of the whole suite of apps, including Gmail. This little tip is a great timesaver and will help get you to inbox zero in no time!

First, let's talk about filters. Filters allow you to automate certain tasks in Gmail - like labelling emails and archiving them so they never hit your inbox. I find them really helpful for filtering out updates from social media that I want to read, but that I don't want to distract me in the middle of the day. They're super simple to setup - just click the small arrow on the right of the search box, type your criteria, then choose 'Create filter with this search' in the bottom right of the prompt.

Now, here's the really good part... Did you know that you can manipulate your email address but still get all your email delivered? The magical + sign allows you to quickly create extra addresses that all come through to your inbox. Here's how it works - just put a '+' after your username, followed by anything you like, before completing the address in the usual way. For example, my email address is I could sign up for a newsletter using and the email still hits my inbox. I could sign up for LinkedIn and use the email

To be honest, I think that's pretty nifty on its own, because you can see which email address a message has been sent to at the top of each email. However, pair this feature with filters and you have one seriously awesome automated inbox. Simply setup your label(s), then when you create a filter, just fill out the 'to' field with the address you want mail filtered for. Here's a gif of setting up a filter based on the example above:

Now all of my newsletter emails get caught under one label and I don't have to spend time manually organising. Good luck with your journey to inbox zero!

Friday, 5 February 2016

Clear the Clutter from View by Sharing the Preview Link for 'View Only' Docs #gafetip

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Do you share lots of 'View Only' Docs inside Drive? Then this is the tip for you! The sharing features are one of the most powerful things about Google Drive, but sometimes the clutter of the toolbar can get in the way of a beautiful document. To share a link without it, simply change /view to /preview. Try it out - here's how it looks:

The document sharing link with /view:

The document sharing link with /preview

Here's what it looks like with /view (a little cluttered up top)

Here's what it looks like with /preview (beautifully minimalist)
For more Google Apps for Education tips and tricks, check out my blog and follow me on Twitter or G+. If you'd like help with integrating Google Apps for Work or Education, head to my website and get in touch. I can provide support, training and more!

Safer Internet Day 2016 - Whole School Resource - Tuesday 9th February

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Tuesday 9th February welcomes the annual Safer Internet Day. The UK Safer Internet Centre provide some great resources but it can be difficult to make an impact school-wide in one day.

I've created a really simple document which contains four 10 minute activities designed to be completed at the beginning of each lesson through a school day. This worked really well for my school last year so I wanted to share this year's activities with everybody!

The document is below and is essentially activities from the UK SIC adapted into a format that can be easily shared with all your staff. It requires no prep from teachers and is written in a way that is easy to run without prior knowledge.

You can make a copy to your Google Drive by clicking here. I'd love to hear your thoughts - leave them in the comments!

Want more? Don't forget to follow me on Twitter or G+! Check out my website if you're looking for help with Google Apps for Education.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Use the Research Tool in Docs to Keep Students On Task #gafetip

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Did you know that you can search Google right inside a Google Doc? Just click Tools > Research on the menu bar. You can even drag images straight into the Doc. Simple!

Follow me on Twitter @DeanStokes where I'll be posting a #gafetip every weekday!