More magic in Slides: editable themes and widescreen presentations

Presentations give you the ability to bring a story to life in a visually compelling way—whether it’s a pitch for a new product idea, a deck for a history class assignment, or an introduction to your surfing club. Today you can take the magic up a notch with two new features in Slides—widescreen format and editable master slides.

With widescreen presentations, you get a ton of new space to fill with words, charts, tables or even a simple, beautiful image.
Since the majority of monitors and displays are now widescreen, new presentations will be widescreen by default. You can change the size of your slides using the pull down menu in the theme chooser, or by visiting Page setup in the File menu.
Every presentation you make with Slides has a theme that comes with a set of preset colors, font styles and sizes, backgrounds, etc. to give you a consistent look and feel throughout your deck.

One of your top requests has been to customize these presets throughout your presentation. With editable master slides, you can now easily tailor how content appears on every slide by selecting "Edit master" from the Slide menu. For example, you can set all of your header fonts to Alconica, make all of your first level bullets bold, and add a logo in the bottom right corner.
Voila! The thumbnail previews alongside the master show that all of these changes are made instantly across all of the slides in your presentation.

And that’s not all. Each theme consists of a variety of slide layouts, which can also now be individually customized or created from scratch.

We hope that these new ways to customize Slides help you tell better stories, and look forward to seeing the beautiful themes that you come up with. Look out for these updates throughout the course of the day.

Since so many of you have been requesting custom themes, we want to see what you can do! Share your own custom theme on Google+ with the hashtag #mygoogleslides and we'll feature the most impressive & beautiful presentations on our +page.

Posted by: Michael Thomas, Software Engineer

Content & Color: An updated look for Docs, Sheets & Slides

Starting today, things are about to get cleaner—and more colorful—in Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms and Apps Script. First, you’ll notice each editor’s product icon displayed in the header, which doubles as a quick link back to all your files in Drive. Next, you’ll see that the header is more streamlined and compact, helping you to focus on what matters most—your content.

We hope these updates make your creation and collaboration experience just a bit more delightful. Enjoy!

Posted by Sarah Cooper, User Experience Designer

Head back to school with Drive: Student Edition

Guest posted by Alex Nagourney

Alex Nagourney is a 2013 graduate of Wellesley College. She was a 2011 Google BOLD intern and a Google Student Ambassador from 2011-2013. She currently lives in New York City.

Summer is coming to an end, which for college students usually means the end of a grueling internship, a road-trip or cross-country flight back to campus, embracing friends you have not seen in months, and, oh yeah, that other tiny detail: the start of classes.

With so much else going on — friends, extracurriculars, sports — students today need to be as efficient and productive as possible when they dedicate time to studying and doing homework. In this age of internet transformation, Gen Y is more tech savvy than ever before, and we expect online education to meet our technology standards.

The purpose (and hope) of this blog post is to give a few examples of how I used — and benefitted from — Google Docs, Slides, and Forms in college.

Example 1: Have a group project? Stay calm, cool, and collected. Docs make collaboration easy!

If you have ever had to work on a group paper or project, you know how cumbersome and inefficient the process can be. There are two ways to go about accomplishing this task: (1) your group sends 173 emails trying to coordinate a time at which everyone is available to meet or (2) each person writes a portion of the paper and the group tries to synthesize uncoordinated chunks of different writing styles into one cohesive paper, which always ends with one Type A student editing the entire thing. Luckily, there is now an option 3, and it’s called Google Docs.

To start using Docs, just open a doc, share it with the group members, and write. It’s that simple. Having the ability to work together in the cloud means no coordinating schedules, no wasting time on multiple revisions, and no unequal division of group member contributions.

For example, when I had to complete a group paper for an Economics class, my two groupmates and I decided we would each write one-third of the paper. We put our respective portions into a single document and then went through each other’s writing, adding comments and correcting errors when necessary.
Example 2: Google Slides. Enough Said.

Presentations are an inevitable college assignment. Whether you are a history or physics major, you cannot escape this task. Before using Slides, the process of creating presentations was inefficient, awkward (so...what should we put on this slide…?) and time-consuming.

For one of my physics laboratory experiments, my partner was an exchange student from France. While we understood each other in the lab by scribbling Greek letters and numbers to solve problems, at times it was difficult to communicate since English wasn’t her first language. So when we had to create our presentation, it sounded like a grueling task for both of us.

We decided to use Slides, divide the work, add notes, and edit together from within the presentation. Our communication was clear and efficient when we typed comments to each other since we could take our time to be articulate, which virtually dissolved our language barrier. In the end, creating the presentation was quite enjoyable; we were proud of the final product and our professors were impressed by how well we worked together.

Example 3: Using Forms to organize information and make it universally accessible and useful...sound familiar?

Being a full-time student and an active member of an extracurricular activity (sport, club, fraternity/sorority, etc.) can sometimes feel like a full-time job. It requires teamwork, organization, time-management, and dedication.

Being the leader of a group demands more: writing agendas, scheduling meetings, organizing fundraisers, and sticking to a budget. Keeping track of all of these items can be difficult, as each task requires different resources — email, documents, spreadsheets, polls, and more.

As the house president of a 165-student residence hall for two years, I struggled to keep track of it all, but after switching to Forms, the whole process became seamless.

For our fundraiser, my house sold over 300 t-shirts to the student body. Because of the high quantity, we utilized a pre-order process in which students could order their size/color and pay in advance. Before we had Google Forms, we used a paper form to collect pre-orders (I still try to block out all those hours spent inputting the paper orders into my computer!).

Not only did using a form make it easier to collect pre-orders, it also made it easier to distribute the order form. As a result, our pre-orders increased by 40% in one year! The form did all of the heavy lifting for me. Orders were seamlessly filed into a spreadsheet, and I simply had to click “Show summary of responses” to place the order, making my job easier and freeing up time so that I could focus on other aspects of my role as a leader.
So there you have it, three examples of how using Docs, Slides, and Forms in college made me more efficient, saved me time, and increased my productivity. For those of you about to begin a new semester, good luck!

Head back to school with Drive: Teacher Edition

Posted by guest blogger Wendy Gorton

Wendy Gorton is an education consultant for organizations around the world. She’s a former classroom teacher, Google Certified Teacher and Trainer, and is passionate about creating learner-centered environments using tools like Google Apps for Education

Follow the Drive Google+ page this and next week for daily tips and suggestions for using Drive in the classroom.

Google Drive is the all-in-one tool I wish I had my first year of teaching. It not only keeps all of your lesson plans, activities, and research organized, but it's an outstanding way to engage your students, give them feedback, and give their writing a real audience—like their peers or classrooms around the world.

Here are 3 tips to help teachers prepare for going back to school with Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms

1. Use Slides to get to know your students 
A great first-week introductory activity is to create a single slide deck, and then invite each of your students to share a bit about themselves on their own personal slide. It’s a fantastic get-to-know-you activity for the first week of school and you’ll be amazed by the creativity that comes out of your students! 

The screenshot below shows how Google Student Ambassadors from 9 different countries used Slides to introduce themselves before gathering to meet each other at an event in Indonesia this summer.

Want to get this going with your students? Easy—create a new Slides deck on the first week of school, click the blue Share button to invite your students, and give them a little direction for their individual slide by adding comments.

2. Use Docs to create a classroom “Bill of Rights” 
The first week of class is that precious transition from the “honeymoon” period of angelic children to learning the norms of your classroom culture. Help start the year off right by inviting students to co-create their ideas of citizenship and a happy learning environment, Docs style.

Start by creating a copy of this template and then invite students to join in with you to add their ideas, ratify by adding a comment, and use their editing prowess to come up with a final copy to live by for the coming year.

3. Use Forms to get to know your students (and their prior knowledge!) 
Get to know your classroom as soon as possible, using Forms to gather information about their needs, interests, and abilities beforehand. Consider creating a simple Form for a survey for your students (and for your parents!) and have fun showing the data on your projector and learning about your class as a whole.

Forms can be used as a very quick getting started activity before any lesson as well—take this example from a social studies classroom before talking about population. By placing a quick Form on your classroom site or emailing your students the Form, you can quickly grasp your students' prior knowledge—before you start teaching.

In this case, our team was a bit off, but helped us not only talk about population but estimation and numbers in general (answer? 7.1 billion and counting. My favorite answer? One ‘goggle.’)
One last tip: Google Apps for Education
You know this is way easier when your school has its own Google Apps for education set up, right? It’s free, and no technical expertise is needed to get started.

I hope you give one of these ideas a try and let me know how it goes on my Google+ page.

Create, edit and present with Google Slides offline

Good news, Slides lovers. You can now create, edit, comment and (perhaps most importantly) present without an internet connection—just like you can with Docs. Any new presentations or changes you make will be automatically updated when you get back online. So you can continue polishing slides on your next flight, and head to your upcoming presentation without worrying about whether there's going to be wifi.

If you already have offline editing for Docs enabled, you don’t have to change anything to work with Slides offline. If not, you can turn it on for Slides (and Docs) by following these instructions. Note that to work offline you’ll need to be using Chrome or ChromeOS.

We’re rolling this functionality out over the course of the day. And for those of you who use Google Sheets, we’re working to make offline spreadsheets available as well—stay tuned.

Posted by Michael Frederick, Software Engineer

Research pane updates: quick access to your stuff in Docs, Slides & Drawings

A few months ago, the research pane was added to Docs to make it easier for you to search for and add web results, images, quotations, maps, and articles to your document. Starting today, the research pane is also available in Slides and Drawings, and searches now include your stuff in addition to web results.

With the research pane, you can now quickly find and use your stuff: include part of a presentation stored in Drive, insert an image from your Picasa albums, or grab a quote from a friend’s Google+ post. (Google Apps customers will only see web results in their research panes.)
(Previewing and inserting a spreadsheet from Google Drive) 

 Posted by: Vivek Agarwal, Software Engineer

One click to Docs, Sheets, and Slides

Google Drive is a place where you can create, share, collaborate and keep all your stuff. Of course, there are times you want to start a new document right away–say, to take notes in class or prepare a last-minute presentation for your boss.

To make it even easier for you to create stuff quickly, Documents, Spreadsheets, and Presentations–now called DocsSheets, and Slides–are available as apps in the Chrome Web Store. Once installed, shortcuts to these apps will appear when you open a new tab in Chrome.

If you use a Chromebook, you’ll see Docs, Sheets, and Slides in your apps list by default following the next update to Chrome OS in a few weeks.

Posted by Jonathan Rochelle, Director of Product Management