Author and #Satchat co-creator Billy Krakower talks Google AutoCrat at Empower18

Times 10 Publisher and Hack Learning creator Mark Barnes chats with Hacking Google for Education co-author Billy Krakower–author, presenter, and co-founder of  #Satchat–at Hack Learning Booth 2026 at Empower18.

Billy will share hacks for Google AutoCrat and other wisdom. Meet Billy at Hack Learning Booth 2026 in the Exhibition Hall or watch our live video on the Hack Learning Facebook page or the #HackLearning Twitter feed.

Eric Ewald Appears at Hack Learning BOOTH 2026

You can check out Billy’s book, Hacking Google for Education, when you visit.

HyperDocs

Student Engagement Guru Dishes on HyperDocs

Listen to “58-Dishin’ with the HyperDocs Girls” on Spreaker.

I became aware of HyperDocs because of my mentor Kristen Kovak. I featured Kristen in Hacking Engagement Episode 39 which is on the paperless classroom.

My mentor is a grand total of 24-years-old. As I mentioned in the last episode of Hacking Engagement, older teachers like me need to get over themselves and learn from the youngsters. Not long ago, Kristen waltzed into my room and challenged me to start using this cool new tool.

My initial reactions was, Oh great! Here’s another thing I’m going to have to figure out. The good news is that mastering this tool was easy.

You create them by making a copy in Google Docs and then morphing the templates and then BAM…you upload your creation to Google Classroom. Here’s the link for the HD I created for the Korean conflict.

Hacking Google for Education

Check out 99 more ways to leverage Google Tools

Kelly Hilton, Lisa Highfill, and Sarah Landis are the co-creators of HyperDocs and authors of the HyperDocs Handbook.

These ladies have designed a remarkable website providing teachers with digital lesson templates and plenty of sample HyperDocs. Aside from outstanding organization, the templates are beautiful, which should never be underestimated.

To begin creating, simply FILE>MAKE A COPY and complete the stages of the lesson cycle by adding instructions and resources.

My final plug for the HyperDocs website is important. Many virtual tools have a free version and paid version. I’m careful about what I pay for out of my own pocket or solicit my administration to fund. I’m certain I’m not alone in this concern and the HD Girls are here to help. All there templates are free for the copying and please investigate the Teachers Give Teachers tab on their website.

The Problem

Your Google Classroom feed is an uninspiring jumbled mess.

The Solution

Introduce inspiration, organization, and beauty with HyperDocs.

What You Can Do Tomorrow?

  1. Peruse the HyperDocs lesson templates.
  2. Insert one of your lessons plan into one of their templates.
  3. Post your creation to Google Classroom.
  4. Debrief your students to see how you can improve with your next HyperDoc.

HyperDocs is a tool you’ll use weekly, if not daily!

For more cool tips and tools to engage teachers and learners daily, check out my book, Hacking Engagement: 50 Tips & Tools to Engage Teachers and Learners Daily.

sifting through internet noise with Google alerts

Sifting Through Internet Noise with Google Alerts

Google alerts seem like a simple, not-so-sophisticated tool. You format alerts so that Google can mine information and email it to you.

But how do you use Google alerts for education? What can a teacher, principal, or superintendent do with alerts, to empower all stakeholders?

In Hacking Google for Education: 99 Ways to Leverage Google Tools in Classrooms, Schools, and Districts, educators and Google gurus Brad Currie, Billy Krakower, and Scott Rocco explain.

The podcast episode above and the book excerpt below provide more details about the power of Google alerts for educators.

THE PROBLEM: PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA WHEN SOMETHING THEY ARE ASSOCIATED WITH IS MENTIONED ONLINE

The internet has too much information to sift through. As a case in point, try Googling the word “alert.” We got over 715,000,000 search results. Who has time to go through that many results? In this age of digital information and social media, it’s imperative that teachers, principals, and superintendents stay current with the school-specific information that is out there on the Internet.

For the most part, the days of clipping out articles from local, state, or national newspapers are gone. Everything is posted online, which makes it difficult to keep track of news that might highlight or mention you or your district.

Teachers can have students use Alerts as a research tool for a project. Principals can use it as a way to tell their school’s story. District search committees can use Alerts to research their next Superintendent.

In addition to monitoring their digital presence, people need a place to store and display the content digitally. There’s no limit to the great district events you can promote, especially through a Twitter feed, Facebook page, or Pinterest board. Promotion obviously starts with having the information to share in the first place. The best way to track information on the web in a timely fashion is through a little-known feature called Google Alerts.

THE HACK: ACTIVATE GOOGLE ALERTS TO STAY NOTIFIED OF YOUR WEB PRESENCE  

Make sure that you are signed into the correct Google account by using your Gmail account username and password. Scroll through the Google Alert homepage to become familiar with its various sections. You will notice that there are three sections starting from the top and working their way down the page: Search Box, My Alerts, and Alert Suggestions.

How the Search Box works

Where it says “Create an alert about…” type in something that you would want an Alert about. For example, Brad Currie or Evolving Educators or #Satchat. Your selected searches will wind up in a feed just below the Search Box in a place called “My Alerts.”

Explore the My Alerts area to understand how it functions. You will notice a gear in the upper right hand corner. Click on it and you will see two options titled “Delivery Time” and “Digest.” The “Delivery Time” feature provides you with an opportunity to select a time of the day that you want an Alert(s) to show up in your Gmail inbox.

The “Digest” feature provides you with an opportunity to receive Alert(s) in a Gmail inbox of your choice on a daily or weekly basis.

Also browse the Alert Suggestions area. Maybe there are certain things that interest you, like Google Updates, that you want to stay on top of. If you select “Google Updates,” you will receive a Gmail inbox Alert every time there is news mentioned pertaining to the topic called “Google Updates.” Once selected it will give you an Alert preview and from this point you can choose to enable the Alert or not.

Check out hundreds of FREE resources in the Hack Learning Toolkit

The Alert Suggestions section enables you to quickly add Alerts pertaining to trending topics, organizations, or people. Click the “+” to add the item to your Alert feed.

Click the garbage can icon next to the topic in the “My Alerts” section to stop receiving notifications. You can also click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the Alert in your Gmail inbox.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TOMORROW

  • CLASSROOM: Students can use Alerts to research a particular person, place, or thing for a project. Say for example students are creating a Google Slide presentation on the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They could set up an Alert for a one or two-week period that will then push out content to their Gmail inbox every time there is a newsworthy mention of Dr. King on the internet. This hack would be particularly useful around the time of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day when information on celebrations and programs are being disseminated. These Alerts can enhance opportunities for students to learn about him in class.
  • SCHOOL: Principals and teachers can keep track of school-related news by setting up an Alert. For example, Brad keeps track of all things Black River Middle School (BRMS) by setting up an Alert. Every time BRMS is mentioned in a newsworthy sort of way online he gets an Alert in his Gmail inbox. He will then push out these newsworthy links onto his school’s Pinterest board, Twitter feed, and Facebook page. This is a great way to acknowledge and archive all the amazing things that are going on in your school. It also makes it very easy for school stakeholders to find important news items.
  • DISTRICT: School board members or a district-wide search team may want to keep track of candidates for a future superintendent opening. Once a list of candidates is compiled, Alerts can be set up for those specific people and the current schools they work for. Over the coming weeks and months Alerts about news pertaining to the candidates will be sent to a specified Gmail inbox. Any items of interest can be forwarded to the decision makers on the committee. It’s a great way to collect artifacts to support informed decisions. 

Google Alerts has many benefits for educators. District search committees can use Alerts to research their next Superintendent. Are there any negatives or obstacles associated with Google Alerts? Sure there are.

Your inbox could be flooded with alerts that have nothing to do with the topic you selected. There is more than one school with the same name. On the rare occasion you could foreseeably receive an inappropriate alert that looks like spam.

Overall, Google Alerts is well worth the investment. It will save you time and pinpoint searchable topics for all to enjoy.

Check out 96 more ways to leverage Google tools in classrooms, schools, and districts.

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Using Google Slides - Hack Learning chat

Hacking Gsuite with Justin Birckbichler – #HackLearning Chat

Google Certified Trainer Justin BirckBichler Hacks the “new” GSuite, formerly Google Apps for Education (GAFE).

Check out the entire chat below, and let us know what you think about the name change and how you plan to integrate GSuite into your classroom.

Read more from Hack Learning Ambassador and Google expert Justin Birckbichler on his blog.

Check out more #HackLearning live chats, archived on our top menu.

Learn more about integrating GSuite into your classroom in Hacking Engagement: 50 Tips & Tools to Engage Teachers and Learners Daily