We are NOT asking you to sign up for a Google account in today’s post.
Google Drive is a password-protected online space you acquire when you sign up for a Google Account. It’s basically a hard drive that lives on the web and you get 15 gigabytes of space. You can upload things into it, or create things using the tools available. You can store things in Google Drive that you have made with Google Tools, and share them if you wish. You can also upload files to it, including Word/Excel/PowerPoint files. NB: if you’re using Google Chrome as your web browser, you can drag and drop documents into it too. There’s apps attached to the tools also, so you can contribute via your phone, which makes it ideal for mobile learning, and for promoting in-class engagement.
‘What are Google Tools?’
A suite of free Microsoft Office (style) tools like Word, Excel and PowerPoint (plus lots of other useful things), made available to you online.
The exciting part is that you can access and edit what you create anywhere that has the Internet – on your PC/Mac or on your device/phone – and, you can give permission to people to view and/or edit any of these things, and they can do that in real time.
‘Why would I use these tools?’
It’s probably easier to explain this with real examples I’ve come across while working with Anglia Ruskin University staff:
EXAMPLE 1: Imagine you are collaborating on a book/document/spreadsheet/presentation with several people spread across our University, country, or even the planet. How would you currently do that? Usually you’d either have to email copies, keep track of versions, and have a mediator – or you’d have to organise a timetable to work on one document on a drive. Google Docs allows you to work on the same document at the same time, if you wish, and there’s only need for one document.
EXAMPLE 2: Say you have a large class, and you need to ascertain if they understood what you just said; I’d say that’s almost impossible given the time constraints on a lecture. Google Forms can allow you to do that, and it automatically puts the responses into a time-stamped Excel spreadsheet. It also automatically creates nice graphics, graphs and charts, which you can display to your class as the results arrive (instantaneously). It’s similar in some ways to Poll Everywhere.
EXAMPLE 3: I was going to leave it at two examples, but I was recently asked by someone how they might gather thoughts, remarks, and maybe even web links and pictures, from a class. Sharing a Google Doc in class would facilitate this, and you could see the contributions appear live on the board. Google Docs ‘save’ automatically and sharing a Google Doc takes seconds.
NB: Contributing to Google Docs via mobile phone or tablet requires a free, quickly downloadable app, and you will be prompted to download it if you attempt to go to the link. Google Forms can be contributed to without an app. All can be done anonymously.
IMPORTANT – Do not keep student or staff data in Google Drive/Tools.
Activity – there’s 2 parts, please complete both.
- Click here and share your thoughts on how you might use a Google Doc in your job, whether you’re an academic or a professional services member of staff.
- Click here and fill out the short Google Form, making sure you enter the exact time you submitted your answers in the appropriate field, then post that time in the comments section on this blog post.
Going further: We run an online course looking at Google Tools. It shows you how to set up your Drive, and how to create Forms and Docs. This post is made up of part of that course, so you’re already half way to gaining a badge on that course. Sign up for the next iteration here.