UTB Newsletter - Issue 1- 2020

  • Welcome from Mike, our Director
  • Something to make you think
  • Something we think you'll like
  • Updates in Google Classroom
  • Tip of the week: Setting Defaults in Docs
  • Featured Online Course: G Suite Deep Dive Bundle + Sneaky discount #shh
  • Microsoft, Google and Apple Tips
  • Classroom + Lesson Idea
  • Website of the week: Vooks
  • Product review: Makedo Scrus and tools
  • Latest blog posts
  • Join the UTB Team

Rotorua 2020

What a great start to the year it has been! Is it just me, or does it seem to get busier every year?

The UTB team all gathered in Rotorua a couple of weeks ago to plan the year and hang out. It is amazing to me how connected we are when we all work remotely and very rarely see each other in person!

It certainly is challenging getting the whole team to fit into one place, and I am personally so thankful to have such a great team working alongside me.

Paul Hamilton has slotted right in with his amazing AR/VR and Apple PD skillset. He has already been a hit with schools. Check him out on twitter here and if you would like to utilise Paul's awesome skillset please let us know.

Enough about us... this newsletter is all about you!

The team have compiled a list of articles, tips and training that we know you will love. We are really looking forward to working with you this year. Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have a question, suggestion, or just want to say hi.



HCI's in the future: Our Interactions with Computers - What Teachers Need to Know.

Many Digital Technology curriculums around the world require students to learn about Human Computer Interactions - or HCI’s. To many classroom teachers, terms like HCI and heuristics can seem very foreign and difficult concepts to understand, however they are actually very simple and once you know what they mean you can see why these are such integral parts of living and learning in a digital world.

Human computer interactions are exactly what they sound like - how we, as humans, interact with computers. I’m sure we can all recall interactions with technology that have been frustrating and difficult to understand. As a user of digital tools we rely on the developers and designers to consider us - the end user - when creating their products. If it’s too difficult to understand how to use an app, or it doesn’t work well, we just won’t use it! Think software that is not intuitive, think about parking meter machines that give you an error code that you have no understanding of. Even messy, untidy interfaces that are difficult to navigate or hard to look at. Or what about when Siri, Alexa or Google get your instructions/questions completely wrong! These are all components that developers need to take into account, and so do our students when they are creating digital outcomes. The word HEURISTICS simply means a rule of thumb, or a set of checks we can use to make sure that what we have created works well for the end user. This is not a word invented only for the field of Computer Science, but can be applied to everything.

Here are two great resources we wanted to share with you to get you thinking about how you can bring concepts like HCI and Heuristics into your classroom. The first is the CS field guide to HCI. This is a brilliant resource created by the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. The second is a video of Peter Smart who takes a look at what the future of HCI might be and what this will mean for us humans. Check them out and see how you can weave this into your classroom.

Something we think you'll like...


More and more often these days we need to be able to quickly scan a document with our phones and then send it somewhere.

While there are many external apps you can download to do this job - if you have an iPhone running iOS 13 (or ipad running iPadOS 13) there is no need to download anything! The Files app has an inbuilt scanner 👍

Simply open the Files app, long press and choose 'Scanner'. A blue overlay will appear. Then simply capture the document, edit the surrounding area if you need to and save. From there you can send it to any of your file management systems - Google Drive, Dropbox, Wakelet... whatever you have connected.

There is also the ability to markup on it, copy it or compress it.

This is an awesome Apple feature that many people aren't aware even exists! Next time you need to scan something give it a go - it's simple, quick and easy to do!


Rubrics & originality reports now available to all Google Classroom users!

Just in time for the start of the new school year here in the Southern Hemisphere...rubrics and originality reports are now generally available to all Google Classroom users! Rubrics are great for those teachers who want to provide detailed, structured feedback to students - particularly in secondary school. Originality reports will guide students in improving the originality of their work, and help teachers detect plagiarism.

Tool or tip of the week


One of the easiest ways to be more efficient when using Google Docs is to configure and use text styles.

These are the pre-formatted styles with names like ‘Normal text’, ‘Heading 1’, ‘Heading 2’ and so on.

Using styles ensures that your document is formatted consistently and makes it easy to use features like a table of contents and in-document hyperlinking. While the standard text styles in Google Docs are quite plain, you can easily update these to use different colours and fonts. Even better is that you can then configure Google Docs to use these styles for all your new documents!

Learn how to set up your own custom default styles in this blog post.

Featured: Online Course


This year at UTB there is a real focus around PEOPLE Development more than just Professional Development. A key understanding of this has been around educating leadership teams that EVERYONE should be taking their NEXT step but it is not the SAME step for everyone.

We've been able to acheive this tailored and relevant approach by offering our training online in a course and module framework where teachers, leadership and office staff can work through the training at a pace that suits them, a time that suits them and in a location that works best for them.

The G Suite for Education Bundle is a ten course package providing the ultimate learning experience.

With 12 months access to all of our G Suite Deep Dive courses, you'll gain an in-depth knowledge of a range of G Suite tools from our team of certified Google trainers.

This package is designed to help your school effectively implement Google tools at every level of the organisation, delivering better student outcomes in your classroom, and to achieve lasting efficiency and communication improvements amongst staff and wider community.

Use the code #UTBCOMM10 to SAVE 10% off this course or any of our other online courses that suit your preference.

Microsoft Tip


It is now possible to make a channel within a Team to be private. This is great for when you want a channel that only some people on the team can access. An example of this may be a leadership team which has a finance or HR channel that only key members of the wider team need to have access to.

When you create a channel you can set the privacy level to Standard or Private. Standard will let everyone see the channel and Private allows access to individuals or groups from the Team that you specify. A private channel will not be seen in other team members channel list.

Google Tip

My Maps

We all know G Suite is full of awesome tools for us to use, but often we don't think about My Maps as being one of these tools.

You'll find it here.

Tip: You need to be signed in to your G Suite account to use the tool.

In the top left corner you'll find the red 'Create a new map' button.

There are many, many ways you can use this tool - from your students collaborating, or creating a shared map that may show the journey of a character from a book, to individual students creating a journey of their dreams.

I recently used it during a teacher workshop session to allow teachers to take a journey at their own pace - some stops were compulsory and others they could bypass if they wanted to. You could create a similar 'Choose your own journey' activity for your students.

Apple Tip

Split Screen on iPad

Creating a split screen on the iPad allows students to multitask and integrate more than one application, like dragging an image directly onto a Keynote, Pages or OneNote document. Simply swipe from the bottom of the screen to view recently used Apps. Then press and drag the photos App onto the screen. You can then resize each screen according to need.

Classroom / Lesson Idea

Explore the Treaty of Waitangi through Game Design with Gamefroot

With the Waitangi Day celebrations taking place recently, many of you will have been exploring the Treaty in your classrooms and might be curious how Digital Technologies can add value to the learning.

Gamefroot have a fantastic step-by-step tutorial that integrates programming with an understanding of the events leading up to and following the signing in 1840.

This is targeted at students in Years 5-10. Students will need a Gamefroot account to access the tutorial.

They can use their school Google login for easy access (select LOGIN from the bottom right of the Home Screen and then SIGN IN WITH GOOGLE).

They then select TUTORIALS which will open up a sidebar with a range of options and select Aotearoa 1840-START and LET’s GO on the next page.

The sidebar will then guide students through step-by-step to edit the game using block coding.

One great thing is it asks students to listen to, or read Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi) from the School Journal library first to make sure they have the information needed to succeed.

I found the instructions clear and easy to follow and appreciated the integration of programming within relevant subject matter. It was also great to have the journal built in to the activity and that it was available as an audio recording for less fluent readers.

Gamefroot are committed to empowering teachers and students to understand the power of game design and have other incredible options on their site including ‘mihi maker’ and ‘Museum Maker’ that are worth exploring.

Website of the week

Are you looking for new resources for your Literacy program?

As you launch into your 2020 class programs are you looking for new ways to engage your students with literacy?

Recently the UTB team came across Vooks - a site filled with wonderful audio books. It works on the web - and Android and Apple apps are also available.

Each book is animated and as the story is read the words are highlighted so you can follow along. While most of these books would be more suitable for younger students there are some that could be used with older students as well. There is also a growing collection of teacher resources for the stories.

Like most websites, there is a free and paid version - but this link will take you to a form to complete which will give teachers one year free access to the full site.

Check it out - there are so many ways you could use these stories!

Product Review

Makedo Scrus and Tools

Inspired by John Spencer, I have been exploring how to develop a Maker Mindset in the students I work with.

Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking you need expensive gear and the latest 3D printer, but we can start with much cheaper materials.

One material that is usually in abundant supply is cardboard. The best cardboard to use is corrugated in the centre (like the filling in a sandwich) as this is strong enough to fold into sharp corners and flexible enough to bend into curves.

One pitfall I have faced is using cardboard well. Constructing it often involves vast amounts of sticky tape or hot glue and I was on the hunt for a more sustainable way when I discovered Makedo Scrus.

Described on their website as, "a simple to use, open-ended system of tools for creative cardboard construction", these clever screws are made from sturdy plastic with tools easily manipulated by little hands.

If you do happen to have a 3D printer, you can 3D print your own hinges, brackets or additional tools for students to use (including a handy scru-bit for an electric drill to help with quick disassembling of creations to use the scrus again).

The possibilities across the curriculum really are endless and work just as well in medium size and huge creations. I think the Makedo Scrus will quickly earn a place as a favourite tool when it comes to making in your classroom.

Check out a couple of the ideas below, from a portable low cost shelter to a model for a robotic hand- the only limit is your imagination!

Get in touch if you want us to connect you with your nearest stockist.

Blog posts you may have missed

Check out the practical, helpful tips in our blogs below.

Something you want us to blog about? Make a request here or check out our website to see all our posts.

Protecting your workflow from the Coronavirus and natural disasters by utilising Microsoft Teams - In our current environment, the certainty of running our schools or businesses the same as always, maintaining efficiency and continuity when disruption occurs can become frustrating. The capacity to pivot key processes so that it is business, as usual, is important. Utilising Microsoft Teams can help this in schools and business. Here are three areas where you can use familiar tools in G Suite (and a few other free online tools) to empower the students in your classes! - By Adrian Francis

How to setup G Suite for Single Sign-on Login from Office 365 - Many organisations use both G Suite and Office 365 which involves creating and deleting user accounts for each system independently. This is not only more work for the administrator but also confusing for users who have to manage separate passwords. Single Sign-on allows G Suite and Office 365 users to log in to both with the same account. Here are three areas where you can use familiar tools in G Suite (and a few other free online tools) to empower the students in your classes! - By Glen Pringle

Three ways to empower your students with G Suite - I always get so excited when I’m visiting schools and see teachers using technology in ways that EMPOWERS students and completely TRANSFORM learning! The tools they use to do this are varied but many of them are right there, within G Suite! Here are three areas where you can use familiar tools in G Suite (and a few other free online tools) to empower the students in your classes! By Lara Kirk

Join the UTB Team as a trainer!

We have a few training opportunities to join the UTB training team in Australia and New Zealand.

We're keen to hear from people who may be interested in full time, part time or casual work with us.

If you are a passionate educator, digitally savvy and keen to explore training options fill in this form to express your interest. We'll get back to you with more details!



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In fact, we get such a kick out of it that every fortnight we want to give someone who shares the love a free online course of your choice - valued at up to $300!

Click here to check out our courses!

All you need to do is a share a photo or video of an activity that was inspired by something we shared with you (could be from face to face, online training or the newsletter), with a quick caption telling us what's happening in it!

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Created with images by Billetto Editorial - "VR painting @ Trailerpark I/O" • Alex Kotliarskyi - "Hackathon" • Roberto Nickson - "Diving into the Cenote" • Ashkan Forouzani - "untitled image" • Kai Wenzel - "untitled image" • henry perks - "Local SEO Google map image I created for a blog post on local marketing" • zhang kaiyv - "街头" • You X Ventures - "untitled image" • Ben Kolde - "untitled image"