Saturday, December 14, 2013

Google Apps for Education Part 4 - Google Drive Web vs. Google Drive Desktop

In the first part of the Google Apps series, we made mention of the advantages of using Google Drive and quickly mentioned the Google Drive Desktop feature. Now that HALB staff has been using Google for a few weeks, I wanted to revisit this concept and suggest a workflow option that will make your lives much easier, alleviating the need for flash drives and emailing attachments. To that end, we have automatically installed Google Drive Desktop on each school computer for every staff member. This should make implementing this program a much simpler process.

With the Google Drive Web version which many of you are beginning to use, you have a hard drive in the cloud which will allow you to access your files from any computer with an internet connection. If you were to create a Google Doc, Spreadsheet or Form (discussed in the previous postings) while preparing your class at home, then come into your classroom computer, you could pick up right where you left off and complete the document and edit it as you wish. This alone certainly beats using a flash drive that can get easily corrupted, and keeping track of multiple email attachments. However, if you were to prepare a Smart Notebook File or Powerpoint presentation at home, upload that to Google Drive, when arriving in class you would need to download that file onto your classroom computer to view it properly. Again, that is better than flash drives and email attachments. But lets say you made changes to that file while teaching your class or perhaps you regularly save your class notes and upload them to Haiku for your students, then you would have to re-upload the new file to Google Drive to have the updated filed saved in the cloud. This may be a little tedious for some users.

The solution is Google Drive Desktop. This is a cool feature, where Google Drive is downloaded (CLICK HERE to download) to the hard drive of your computer, but the files are not actually being saved on your hard drive. They appear to be, but are really being saved in the same Google Drive cloud. The difference though is huge. You can open the Google Drive Desktop folder like you would any folder on your computer, drag and drop files into the drive, and most importantly, open the files directly in the program they were created in. For example, you created a Smart Notebook file at home, dragged it into the appropriate Google Drive folder and now you can come to class and open the file from Google Drive Desktop, view and edit the file and it is automatically saved back into the cloud. No need for re-uploading newer files. This may be a little hard to in-vision from my description, so CLICK HERE to watch a screencast that walks you through the process of downloading Google Drive Desktop at home, finding the already installed Google Drive Desktop in class, and then learning how to navigate the drive and save files into it. Not to misunderstand my intent, I am not trying to get rid of the Google Drive web app as the desktop version will only be accessible from your own personal computers and the school network computers. If you want to access files while on the road or from any non-personal computer or mobile device, you will still want to utilize the web app.

The end result is a perfect workflow of creating files at home, walking into any school computer and opening the very same file, edit and adjust as you see fit.

CLICK HERE to watch a screencast that explains how to install, setup and use Google Drive Desktop.
CLICK HERE to watch the original video I created on setting up Google Drive Web and at the end makes quick mention of Google Drive Desktop. 


1. 40 Ways to Start Using Google Apps in the Classroom  
2. Good Online Google Tutorials for Teachers
3. A Case Study: Using Google Drive in the Classroom
4. 12 Roles for Google Drive in the Classroom
5. Google Drive and Docs Tips: 20 Expert Tricks and Shortcuts

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