Monday, November 11, 2013

Living in the Cloud: Google Apps for Education - Part 1

It used to be a disparaging comment if someone accused you of "living in the clouds," but today it is considered best practice to do so. What does it mean to "live in the cloud?" Essentially, it means that instead of storing your digital files on your physical computer (hard drive), you are saving them up in cyberspace. One of the most popular cloud based storage services is Google Drive. Every Google/Gmail user has a free account with Google Drive, where you can upload and store all of your files. In addition, there is a collection of apps that you can use in place of Microsoft Word or Excel. These are called Google Docs and Google Sheets. Although there are several other cloud based services (Dropbox being another popular one) that can accomplish the same thing, we will focus on Google as HALB has recently turned into a Google Apps for Education School.

Why would you want to "live in the cloud?"
         a. You can access your files from anywhere in the world with a computer with internet connection.
         b. You can share and collaborate with other people on docs, forms, and the like.
         c. Your work is saved automatically. (No more "save" button.). If your computer dies, your files do not die with it.
         d.  It is Free
         e. No mores email attachments, no more flash drives

The screencast below will walk you through the steps of setting up your Drive, organizing it with folders and subfolders, and how to upload your files to the drive. Look at it this way. You no longer need to save files on your actual computer, just upload them to Google Drive and then access the files from any computer anywhere.

But it gets one step better. Google Drive has a desktop platform so that you can install it on your home computer and on your classroom computer (you might need IT help to do this in school). Then you can create a file (Word, Notebook Software, Powerpoint, etc.) at home and it automatically appears in your classroom computer. No need for flash drives that can get lost or corrupted and no need for emailing yourself the attachments.

CLICK HERE to watch a video that will walk you through this process.

Here are some other Google resources that might be helpful for you.

1. In my networking with other educators throughout the country, I came across an educator by the name of Alice Keeler. (Follow her on Twitter @alicekeeler). She is a Google expert and has a great website with "How to" videos and blog postings that talk about everything Google. This is her website

2. Tech for Teachers - more videos on using Google Drive -

3. For those of you who do better with written directions, here is a link to the Google website where they outline all of the features and the "how to" with Google Drive.

Links to Previous Videos
1. How to Create a Screencast
2. How to Create a Screencast from an iPad

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