Last year, I attended the ECOO conference and decided to move towards implementing Google Drive and Docs with my students. This was not a decision that I made lightly, I reviewed comments, took the time to watch videos, and basically made sure that this was the right step for teachers and students.
It was. I am happy to say that not only are the students embracing using it, I have read more and more about how this is benefiting schools. The public board where I live (I teach at a private school) also started to use it, so I am able to work with my daughter to see the benefits for her.
Let's back up though and work out what we are talking about. Rather than access files and programs on a computer drive or server, we are talking cloud computing; storing files and accessing programs through the Internet. You need a device (computer, smart phone, or tablet) that is connected to the Internet to gain access to your files and to be able to work on them (although off-line access is also available!).
The name is quite misleading as you can use Google Drive, Google Docs as well as the acronym GAFE (Google Apps for Education). In essence, GAFE is an umbrella for Drive, Docs, and a few others. Google Drive refers to the storage space where all of your files live. Google Docs are the programs to work on your files, whether it is a document, spreadsheet, presentation, form, or drawing (among others).
So, what can you use it for? Well, aside from storing your files online, you can work on them as well. What's best is that you can work on them at the same time as someone else, simply by sharing them. One of the first lessons I have done with students is to share a document and then get them all to work on it at the same time. The novelty of it becomes quickly apparent as they are not only able to add their text in real time, but can watch everyone else, as well as change someone else's work!
The next few blogs post will cover more topics about Google, so stay turned for a break down of Google Drive, Docs, Classroom, and more.