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Google Docs and Google Drive

I am always pleasantly surprised when I try to use Google Docs as a collaboration tool. Recently, I was working on a group presentation with three other people. We sat around a table at four different lap tops and worked on the same Google Presentation. It was fast, easy, and highly productive… and dare I say it… FUN!

In our home school, I have tried a number of technology based collaboration tools. I always come back to Google Docs. Here are some reasons why:

Reason 1: Google Docs is free. All you need is an email account to use them, and Google can even cover that base with a free gmail account.

Reason 2: Google Docs can be accessed from any computer, anywhere. How many times has technology gotten in the way of your project? It always seems like someone’s software needs to be updated, or they need a specific computer to access their files, or something just ISN’T WORKING (what did they click on NOW?!?) and you want to scrap the technology all together. If you have an internet connection and a web browser, you can create a Google Doc. You don’t need to update the software ever – it’s all online!

Reason 3: Google Drive! Google Drive makes Google Docs even better. The drive software can be downloaded to your computer and then treated just like a regular folder. You can upload any files you need and they will be available anywhere you go. Or, you can use the web based version and upload files through your browser.

Create Your First Google Doc:

  1. Create a free GMail account if you need one. This is not necessary – you can use any account to create a Google+ account and access Google Docs. If you use YouTube, you probably already have one.
  2. Sign in to docs.google.com
  3. Click on the “Create” button on the top left.
  4. You can create a presentation (kind of like PowerPoint), document (kind of like a Word document), or a picture.
  5. You can share your document with another Google Docs user (or invite someone to sign up for Google Docs) by clicking the “Share” button on the top right, adding the person’s email to the list and clicking “Share & Save”.
  6. Yes, it’s that easy. Try creating a picture and editing it in real time with a collaborator. THINK ABOUT THE POSSIBILITIES HERE!!!

TRY THIS:

  1. Create a doc with a list of links that you want students to explore and allow them to view (not edit) the doc. You can invite students to look at the doc by using the “share” button.
  2. Give students a research topic and ask each student to cover a specific section. See how fast the students can create a paper or a presentation about the topic.
  3. Create a Google picture and use it as an idea mapping tool.
  4. Have students enter some data directly into a Google Spreadsheet and then use their data to demonstrate max, min, ave, etc.
  5. Have students create a Google presentation using their own video (posted to YouTube) and photography.
  6. Give us some ideas… if you have a great use for Google Docs in the classroom or home school room, let us know! We’ll keep adding to this list as we try new things and hopefully we can add some of your ideas as well.
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