Why Google Drive?
You may or may not be in a district that’s started the Google Buzz.
If it has, I am one of those overzealous colleagues crusading the benefits of Google Drive because it is the tool that makes revolutionizes both student and teacher collaboration. What else allows everyone work on one document at the same time, or at different times, on different computers, in real time? What else allows you to see every single change by every single student documented to the minute of the day it was changed?
The basic Google Drive Apps are Google Docs (think: Microsoft Word), Google Sheets (Excel), Google Slides (Powerpoint), and Google Forms (for quiz or survey creations). They also have apps for drawings and maps, which I’m sure might be useful for some classrooms, but I haven’t explored yet.
One of the biggest things I love about Google Docs as a teacher is the classroom management powers it adds. Let me start by giving you a list of student excuses that Google Drive’s features eliminate:
- “The computer deleted my work!!” Google Docs saves automatically every 30 seconds or so, so you can always restore work if it was accidentally deleted (or uncover false excuses if they’re attempted).
- “I lost it.” Lost work is always able to be found via a quick search on a student’s Drive–withOUT time-consuming searches through catastrophically organized backpacks, lockers, desks, or binders.
- “I couldn’t work on the group project because we couldn’t all get together.” As long as students can have access to internet, whether on their phone or on a computer at home or at a library, they can work on the project. They don’t even need to all be working on it at the same time.
- “I left my work in my locker/home/backpack/car/desk, so I couldn’t/can’t do anything.” Files on Google Docs are accessible from any device with internet, any time.
- “My printer didn’t work last night so I couldn’t print out my paper.” Google Docs allows you, if you want to, to make a completely paperless classroom, so no more printer woes.
- “So and so says I didn’t do anything on the project, but I did.” In a feature called revision history, you can see WHO made WHAT changes and WHEN–down to the minute.
- “Of COURSE this is my own work.” Again, revision history can provide helpful breadcrumbs in detecting plagiarism. Oh really? You typed 400 words at a college-level in less than 30 seconds? My teacher powers suggest that a plagiarism lesson is needed. As well as one on integrity.
- “You marked it late [or missing] but I handed it in on time!” Revision history stamps the time that students completed work, and there are add-ons you can use that make it so students cannot make adjustments to documents after a certain date and time.
- “I am staying on task.” Since you can see your students’ work happening in real time, you can notice discrepancies when students are typing and nothing is being added to their project. And with revision history, you can see how often they make changes to their draft. Student-accountability on sub-out days becomes a lot more transparent.
- “I did make changes after I got your/his/her feedback.” Again, revision history is the dishonest student’s nightmare. You can see what changes a student made after any given person wrote feedback, so holding students accountable for revising their work is a breeze.
THE REASON that it can eliminate these excuses is because of a few key features that a computer-based Office suite simply can’t offer. Google Drive…
-Lets you AND students AND colleagues work on the same documents on any computer with internet, any time.
-Provides minute-by-minute revision history of what your student has done with time stamps (this eliminates so many excuses!!).
-Gives a live feed to what your students/colleagues are writing in REAL TIME.
-Allows you to comment or chat with students on documents to give instant feedback.
-Is an open platform, which means that smart, computer-savy, teachers are constantly creating things for Google Drive to give you grading and file-management superpowers. These things are called add-ons, and you can click here to learn more.
Stay tuned for more posts detailing how to get started with Google Docs. If you’re eager, just Google it. It’s very easy to learn. And makes your life easier. And makes your students’ lives easier. Ok I’m cutting myself off now.