Foundation Fonts now in Workspace

If you don’t teach in Australia, it may surprise you to learn that we have specific fonts that must be used in early years and primary education. These fonts are mandated by each state and are a requirement for schools to use when creating resources for young students. The fonts are used when teaching handwriting to young students.

If you ARE an Australian teacher, particularly for the early years students from grades K to 3, but in primary school generally, you know that having access to these fonts is kind of a big deal. You are expected to use these fonts to make resources for students, such as worksheets and activities, so being able to install them on your computer is important.

For a very long time now, it’s been a bit of an issue that these mandated fonts have not been available in Google Docs. I don’t think I’ve ever run training for teachers where the question about Foundation Fonts in Docs has not been asked. It’s just one of those inevitable questions that comes up every single time, but until now there has not been a good answer. If you’re on a Windows or Mac machine you would need to leave Docs and switch to Word or some other tool to make student resources, and if you were using a Chromebook you were completely stuck since installing things like fonts is not an option for ChromeOS users. If you wanted to use Google Docs and you needed Foundation Font, you were just out of luck.

Until today. I’m very pleased to be able to tell you that the mandated fonts for all Australian states are now available in Google Workspace!

Let me tell you how to get them, and then share a little of the journey of how we got here.

To use these fonts you simply go to the font list, choose More fonts and search for the name of the font you want. These new Foundation/Beginner fonts have all been names with a consistent naming convention – Edu <state> <fontname>. So, for example, if you’re in New South Wales, just search for “NSW” and there it is. South Australians might find it a little trickier, as the letter combination “SA” appears in many other fonts, so you can also search using the term “Edu” and they will all show up. Here’s a video that shows what I mean…

How to get Australian fonts for schools in Google Docs.

Of course, if you do need to download these fonts so you can install them into a non-ChromeOS application like Word, Indesign, Illustrator, etc you can acccess them all in the Google Fonts collection at

There are a couple of companies that currently sell these fonts to Australian schools. I started conversations with these companies a couple of years ago to see if they would somehow partner with Google to help bring these fonts to the web so that Google Docs users could access them but there was very little appetite to do so. This approach of only selling installable fonts may have been a good approach in the 90s, but it was ignoring the rise of webfonts and the ever growing number of schools that use Google Docs, and particularly on Chromebooks.

Here’s a fun fact about fonts. When most people talk about “fonts” they really mean”typefaces”. If you’re unclear on the difference, a typeface is essentially the design of the text, or the way a piece of text looks, but a font is the implementation of that typeface in software. While a font can be legally protected by copyright, a typeface cannot. So anyone can freely duplicate an existing typeface, but there are intellectual property issues to consider when creating a font of those letters in software. This means that Google’s implementation of Foundation font is available for anyone to use, but only because it was created from scratch and not reusing someone else’s existing font.

Importantly then, these new fonts from Google have been completely reengineered from the ground up. The designers, Tina Anderson and Corey Anderson did a great job of making them for all Australian states, recoded these from scratch to create a new font for an existing typeface. And while you can buy these fonts from other sources, Google has made theirs available free of charge, both in Google Workspace and through Google Fonts.

As someone who has been training teachers in the Google ecosystem for over 10 years, the request for these mandated fonts was something I heard at almost every workshop I ever ran. I’m really glad that I was able to work with Dave and the awesome people in the Google Fonts team, and the designers Tina and Corey, to finally help bring these fonts to Australian teachers in Google Workspace.

And as a Chromebook user, and someone who passionately believes that the web is the future and that Chromebooks are the best option for most schools, I’m glad that we were able to remove this annoying font issue, and give teachers and students yet another reason to choose ChromeOS.

Meet Inception

You might have seen that movie Inception, where scenes of reality get stacked up inside each other like some kind of existential babushka doll. I experienced the same thing this morning when I had to give a detailed demonstration of Google Meet, while showing Slides about Google Meet, while using Google Meet.

If you’ve ever tried to do this, you’ll know it’s tricky to live demo a tool like Meet while also using Meet, without ending up with what I call the Dr Who effect (but which is more correctly called the Infinite Mirror effect). That’s when you have everyone on the screen being presented on the screen being presented on the screen, being presented on the… well, you get the idea. They disappear to infinity. There’s not a lot you can do about it, and while it doesn’t really cause a problem, it’s annoying.

I have to repeat this same session for another group, so I wanted to see if there was a better way to do it. After a bit of trial and error, here’s what I’ve worked out. I’m writing it down here in case it’s useful to anyone, but mainly so I can remember how to do it. It is a bit “inception”, and so a tad confusing at first.

The trick is to make sure that your main presentation area in Meet has something that takes up the full area (with no people showing), but you also want to be able to see the controls in Meet (and also the people who are in the Meet) at the same time. You just don’t want to see the people twice. Effectively you want to present both the slides AND the Meet interface. If that doesn’t sound tricky to you yet, try actually doing it.

You’ll need two computers, one for showing the presentation, and one for the Meet. And if you have a third computer handy it’s good to use that as a monitor just to confirm what the participants see.

  1. Start a Meet call with the first computer. (Let’s call it Computer 1)
  2. Join the same Meet call on the other two machines (Computer 2 and 3)
  3. On Computer 2, screenshare a Tab and select the one with your Slides. Go to Present mode to show the Slides full screen
  4. Back on Computer 1, screenshare a Tab and present the Meet call. Then hover your cursor over the Slides presentation coming from Computer 2, and pin it so it becomes the featured item showing on the large display
  5. On Computer 1, click the three dot menu in Meet and go to the Change Layout option. Select Spotlight mode. This will remove the participant videos from the main display (although they will still show in the output that participants see in the actual Meet call.)
  6. To present your Slides, use Computer 2 to go through them
  7. Check Computer 3 to ensure that everything is looking as it should – you should be able to see the Slides being presented, within the Meet interface, so you can actually demonstrate the functions in Meet, while all of that sits inside another Meet call where the participants are.

It might sound a bit confusing (and it sort of is) but it’s the only way I can think of to give a smooth demo of slides about Meet, while demoing Meet, while using Meet.

Meet, inside a Meet, inside a Meet

Understanding Security settings in Google Meet

Google Meet has undergone a number of changes recently to the way video calls can be made more secure for teachers and students. This video is a thorough guide to making sure your Meets are as safe as possible, by explaining everything you need to know, from the necessary admin-level settings, to the in-call settings like Host Controls and Quick Access settings.

It goes into a fair bit of detail, including the important changes that need to be made in the admin console in order for the other settings to be effective.