People ask me why use Google Drive and the online apps Docs, Slides, and Sheets. Well, I am going to give you some reasons why you should use this suite of tools
1. It’s FREE. That’s right, it does not cost a penny for you to use the basic account. All you have to do is create a Google account, and you get 15 GBs of storage to use between documents, powerpoint presentations, spreadsheets, photos, email, and storage. Plus you have complete control over who can access your files and what they can do when they access them. There is a desktop application (PC and Mac) that allows you to store content on your home or work computer, and it is automatically synced to the cloud.
2. It’s easy to use. The suite of Google tools (Docs, Slides, and Sheets) is very similar to the Microsoft line of products. In fact, you can create documents in the Microsoft applications on your desktop computer, upload them to your Drive site, and then edit them in the cloud and have people collaborate on it with you. You can then give users the option to download it as a Word doc or even a PDF file. You can also create a document in the cloud, and when it is done, it can be downloaded and edited in Microsoft Word. And it works the same way with Powerpoint (Slides) and Excel (Sheets).
3. Flexible dissemination options. With Google Drive, you have the ability to set different permissions and visibility rules for different users. You can also share content, embed it into another online document or site, or publish it as a webpage on the internet. And you do not even have to know any coding to do it.
4. Online storage. In addition to the productivity suite, you can use Google Drive to house any large files you need to share with folks. There is a single file size limitation, but it is very generous. Need to share a video or let someone preview a large file? Drop it on Google Drive and it is safe and secure and easily accessible.
5. Image storage and sharing. Share all your images using Picasa. And the great things about it, any images with a resolution under 2000×2000 do NOT count against your storage limit. That is a MAJOR plus.
6. Access your content from any computer in the world. Just log in to your Google account, go to Google Drive, and your content is available to you. Edit, download, print, or even create new content. And when you get home, it is already synced up and ready to go.
7. Access your content from your mobile device. Download the Android or iOS app, and you can access your Drive site from your device. And you can edit it download it or share it as well. You can even create documents and presentations. And it is automatically synced back to your Drive site for instant access.
8. Export to PDF. Create any document and then export it to PDF. No more having to run around printing handouts. And no need to PDF writers since Google does it for you.
Now the title of this document is Reasons to USe Google Drive in Your Online Classroom. So let’s get down to the main subject and talk about how you can use it in Canvas. One of the biggest issues with Canvas is the lack of formattability. Canvas limits the fonts and colors and size and styles. You can create content in Canvas that looks good, but you might want more. Plus the current rich content editor does not offer some functions that we have all become accustom to. So using Google Docs is your solution.
1. Share the document. Share the Google Doc so that anyone with the link can only view it. Then go to Canvas, and Add an External Link to a module. Insert the shared URL, and your document shows up in the Canvas document formatted exactly like you wanted it to be. Students can see the document, can download it as a Word Document or a PDF file, or can print it out. But they do NOT have access to the master document.
2. Edit your document within the Canvas page. Log into your Google account, then anytime you are in Canvas and need to edit a document, you simply edit it within the Canvas page. You do not have to edit the Canvas page, just make your changes. They are realtime so the students will see it almost instantly.
3. Keep up with your revisions. Google Docs give you the ability to track the changes in your documents. And if you have given other users permission to make changes, you can tell who made the changes, and when they made the changes. Plus, if you do not like the changes, you can revert your document to the previous version.
4. Research your content on the fly. Google Docs has a research tool. So as you work on creating your content, you can perform a Google search, and find links to include in the document on the fly.
5. Functionality you need. Google Docs gives you functionality that the Canvas rich content editor does not. Specifically spell check, redo, and undo features. Plus you can edit tables which you cannot do in the Canvas rich content editor.
6. Team Teach. One thing we hear a lot about is team teaching. While FERPA sets limitations on the classroom, you can create a shared folder with content on your Drive site. Share it with other teachers. They can link it in their course, or they can copy it and modify their own document to include your content.
7. Share Media Content. No more need for everyone to have a copy of the same media files. Share it with other teachers, and then everyone has access to the exact same content.
In closing, let me just say that using Google Drive and the Google suite of apps may be new to some of you. But more and more schools are getting Google sites created for their schools districts. It works the same as the free version EXCEPT that they give each user 30 GB of storage.
Also, there is no real concern about your content being stored off site from Canvas. Canvas is hosted on Amazon Servers, so content can be spread over many different site.
So give Google Drive a shot, and see how you like it. I think you will be more than pleasantly surprised by what you can do with the application.
- Back-to-School Software: The Five Best Freebies (savings.com)
- Online Storage: Best Places to Store Your Folders on the Internet (pc.answers.com)
- 5 Software Alternatives to Microsoft Office (businessbee.com)
- Utilizing Cloud Storage to Enhance your Canvas Experience (craigstechblog.wordpress.com)