Thursday, November 21, 2013

Living in the Clouds: Google Apps for Education Part 2

HALB has successfully migrated to Google and we are getting comfortable with the Gmail platform for email, many of us are enjoying the features of Google Calendar, and we have even begun to learn about Chrome extensions. (I hope to write more about this in the future). In my previous posting, I talked about Google Drive and the concept of saving our work in the cloud. As I walk the halls of our campuses, I am beginning to hear people talk about Google Drive and sharing and collaborating with each other on the Drive. In this posting, I want to talk about three Google Apps: Docs, Spreadsheets and Presentations.

Google Docs is Google's web version of Microsoft Word, Google Spreadsheets is Google's web version of Microsoft Excel, and Presentation is Google's version of Microsoft Powerpoint. What this means is that you can enjoy the benefits of these programs without having to save your work on your hard drive. You can create a Google (Word) Doc in the cloud while on a school computer, then pick up where you left off on your home computer, tablet or smartphone. Similarly, you can create a spreadsheet on Spreadsheets or a slideshow on Presentation and open in on any computer in the world with internet access. No more need for emailing attachments or carrying around flash drives that can get corrupted. You simply save it in on your Google Drive and it is there whenever you want it.

But more important than the accessibility, is the collaborative features of Google Apps. You can create a Doc and share it with your colleagues or students. This allows them to open the same document (even at the very same moment) and work on it with you. If you have to create a spreadsheet and then share it with colleagues, now you can do that in a way they can make changes to the very same document. Do you want your students to produce creative Powerpoint Presentations? Now they can work on a project together even while they are each in their own homes. They simply login to Drive, share the presentation with each other and they are instantly working on the same presentation at the same time.

Another great reason to use Google Apps is that the software is universal, it is web based and accessible to everyone. Now PC users and Mac users do not have to worry about having compatible software. They can each login to Google Drive and utilize these apps from any type of computer, tablet or smart phone. In fact, after purchasing a Macbook a few months ago, I have yet to purchase any software simply because most of the day to day tasks can be done on Google Apps.

To be honest, I am not trying to rid the world of Microsoft Office programs. The Google Apps are not as robust and do not have all of the special Microsoft features. But I challenge you to move to Google Apps for a month and show me what these apps are missing. I would bet most of you will be able to work with Google Apps without missing a beat. Go for it and prove me wrong.

Here are three Screen casts that walk you through these Apps:

1. Google Docs Part 1: Creating and Collaborating
2. Google Docs Part 2: More on Collaborating and Sharing
3. Google Sheets and Presentations

1. Google Apps User Guides
2. Google Docs in the Classroom - Simple as ABC
3. Table of Contents in a Google Doc
4. 12 Roles for Google Drive in the Classroom
5. Everything Teachers Need to Know about Google Spreadsheets
6. 15 Great Google Tutorials for Teachers

Links to Previous Videos
1. How to Create a Screencast
2. How to Create a Screencast from an iPad
3. Introduction to Gmail (by Aaron Fleksher)
4. Google Calendar (by Aaron Fleksher)
5. Google Drive #1

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