Google+ Education: Part 3

For part three of this series on Google+ for education, let’s talk about Google Drive, formerly Google Docs. It is free and easy to create an account and enables users to create documents, presentations, spreadsheets, forms, drawings, and more. Now, you might currently use Word or PowerPoint with your students to create materials, and so do I, however, there are some advantages to using Google Drive for certain assignments.

Firstly, Google Drive files are accessible from any computer with Internet access, which means that students will have an easier time working on a project on different computers. Rather than having to transfer the file from one computer to the next either by USB or e-mail, students can access it from any device with Internet access. This is an especially important thing to keep in mind if your students don’t all have computers at home. With Google Drive, students who use school or library computers don’t have the added concern of tracking the file or the most updated version of the file.

Secondly, collaboration is made simpler and can be done in real time. Because students working in Google Drive can share materials with others, groups can create and edit work together in real time. Rather than one student being responsible for the first part and another being responsible for the second, students are able to have a greater impact on the project as a whole. Haven’t you ever received a project where a student said something like, “I did slides one to five and my partner did the last three”? I just don’t see the collaboration in that but recognize that bouncing a file back and forth between two or more people is challenging. The Google Drive platform solves that and projects better reflect group work.

Additionally, Google Drive can aid your organization and assessment process. You can collect student work into folders by class or assignment and provide feedback electronically on the work itself. This way, students can see the comments in context rather than separate from what they’ve produced, which should better illustrate for them both their strengths and weaknesses.

Finally, outside the classroom, students with the skills to create these types of materials and collaborate effectively will benefit greatly as these skills have many real world applications. In the future, students will use what they’ve learned in both their personal and professional lives, and isn’t that what teaching is all about? Preparing students for the real world. Well, in the modern, technology-driven world, these things matter and so, they should matter to you, too.

Google Drive is a great resource for you and your students, so experiment with it in your classroom today to prepare your students not just for today, but for the future.

How do you use Google Drive in your classroom, and in what ways has it changed the way your students collaborate?

About Tara Arntsen

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen recently completed her Master's degree in Teaching-TESOL at the University of Southern California. She currently teaches in the Intensive English Program at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. She has taught ESOL in China, Japan, and Cambodia as well as online. Her primary interests are communicative teaching methods and the use of technology in education.
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