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Why Schools Need Google Drive

Students are scattered around the room in groups of 3 or 4 with laptops perched before them. 

Purposefully they mine through each other's drafts looking for specific elements to provide appropriate feedback directly on the computer.

If you read my blogs regularly, I'm sure you've noticed a trend.

Regardless of age, my classes are always engaged in empowering activities that encourage students to be in control of their learning and technology plays a big role in how I'm able to do this.

Since we've started using Google Drive, students have been able to work more efficiently with no fear of losing their materials or forgetting to bring a thumb drive.

Remember "I left it at home." or "It's saved on my computer." or "My printer ran out of ink?" 

Well, those fun excuses and many others are no longer applicable if your school has adopted the Google Educational Suite.

Google Drive for those of you who don't know is a computing solution that allows users to access a suite of applications from any device, in any location, at any time. Whether on a phone, tablet or computer,

Google Drive offers an array of tools that feel designed specifically for a school environment.

Here's what the Google Educational Suite includes:

  • Gmail for users within a school community

  • Drive which is an organizing folder system of all filesDocs which is a word processing app

  • Sheets which is a spreadsheet app

  • Forms which works with spreadsheets to gather information through surveys

  • Slides which is a presentation app

  • Drawings which is for picture design

  • In addition to these basic apps, Drive offers users the opportunity to download extensions to provide a more diverse group of specific needs for users. And if you're using Drive in Chrome, there are many more options as well.

Back in the day when Microsoft Word was a students' or teachers' only option, there was always an issue with file transport. Since Drive is hosted on the cloud, everyone in a school community can access it anytime, anywhere, as needed and can even work on documents offline.

Drive can be used as a tool to teach students many things from organization (starting with developing a file structure to keep files neat for classes) to presentation skills. 

Here are some practical ways Drive has helped to transform learning in our classes:

  • My classroom is now paperless because students submit all work via Docs which allows me and students to provide written and voice comments. In addition to comments, Docs provides revision history which can help a teacher see how much work gets done and when. This can also be a lifesaver if a student accidentally erases something. 

  • Newspaper classes use Docs to send stories to editors and go through the editing process before publication. We also use Sheets to maintain who's writing what and where they are in the process. The collaborative features on this suite provide many opportunities for users to work on the same document in real-time.

  • In addition to Docs and Sheets, my newspaper class also employs the calendar app to keep students abreast of when articles will be posted to the website.

  • Slides are good for any class where presentations are necessary. With easy to use templates and functions, it works like Powerpoint but with the benefits of Google.

  • Forms have become an essential part of gathering data. Students use it for polling in the newspaper class and I use it to gather feedback from students about their learning. It can also be great for evaluation of any kind.

  • We've used drawings to make visual aids in classes and diagrams to go with newspaper stories.

  • We use email for everything as one of the main tools for communication and Gmail allows for great flexibility in making groups and being predictive once you've started emailing a specific group often.

Students and Educators have this to say about Google Drive:

Drive has been a game-changer in my classroom because it really does make everything easier in terms of access. It's worth trying out if you haven't already.

Now we just have to deal with the pesky "Untitled" issue.

How are you using Google Drive in your classrooms? I'd love to know

This piece originally ran on my Education Week Teacher blog Work in Teacher in October 2014

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