Getting Started with Google Drive/Docs
In the “official” training resources at http://www.google.com/edu/training, Google Drive (formally called Google Docs) is described as:
“Offering word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, forms, and drawings, Google Drive provides an easy-to-use, integrated way for teachers and students to work together on projects, reports, and more, and to collect and share information in a secure online environment.”
Essentially, Google Drive offers similar tools to what you would find in Microsoft Office, but without the need for installing specific (and possibly expensive) software. Google Drive can be accessed from any computer that is connected to the internet using a modern web browser or from a mobile device using the free Google Drive App. All your Google Drive files are automatically saved in your Google account “in the cloud” making them available anywhere at any time.
The other unique capability that Google Drive offers is the ability for multiple people to share and actively collaborate on a document without having to attach and email the document back and forth. Each person works in the same online document, preventing work from getting lost or misplaced. In fact, people can work on a document at the same time while being in different locations and using different types of devices!
Because Google Drive is web-based and free for all existing Google accounts, you need very little to get started creating your first online document. You will need:
You will notice a standard text formatting toolbar that will allow you to add basic formatting to your text. You can change the font, make text bigger or smaller, change the color, and add highlighting. Because the document is web-based and exists completely within a web browser, there is a limit to the number of fonts available to choose from.
There are also tools to justify and align paragraphs, adjust the line spacing within a paragraph, indent text, and create bulleted and numbered lists.
One of the most powerful features of Google Docs is the ability to share a document with someone and allow them to collaboratively work on the same file without having to worry about who has the latest version. All the work is done within a web browser and revisions are tracked so that you can rollback to a previous version at any time. You can work together at different times or work in real-time and see each other’s changes and edits live. You can even chat while working on a document at the same time. Lastly, you can use the “Suggested Edits” feature to allow people to suggest changes to a document and then accept or reject those changes.
When sharing a document, you can assign specific privileges to different people and manage what they have permission to do. There are four different levels of sharing privileges you can choose from:
Owner: The person who creates the document is automatically the owner. There can only be one owner per document. The owner has complete control over the document, including the ability to delete it.
Can Edit: A user that can edit a document can make changes to the document, accept “suggested edits” within a document, export the document, view the list of other collaborators, invite additional editors and viewers (if the owner has given them permission), and make a copy of the document. An editor cannot delete the document; they can only remove the document from their own Google Drive.
Can Comment: A user that can comment on a document is able to highlight a passage within the document and insert a comment. The comment will not change the actual content of the document. A user that can comment can also make a “suggested edit” to a document. Suggested edits can be accepted or declined by anyone who can edit a document. A commenter can see the latest version of the document, export the document, and make a copy of the document.
Can View: A viewer can see the latest version of the document, export the document, and make a copy of the document. A viewer cannot make any changes and cannot see any comments made by other users.
You can add collaborators to a document at any time.
You can also remove a collaborator at any time.
Visibility settings allow you to make it easier for collaborators to find your document. More liberal visibility settings can actually allow your document to be found by anyone in the world using Google search! The following list of visibility settings was taken directly from Google’s own training site:
When you create a private doc, you are the only person with access to it. And from there, you can grant access to other people. Anyone trying to access the document will have to sign in to their Google Account to verify that they have access to the doc. Private is the best setting for your own private documents, like a list of contacts or a resume. It's also good if you want to collaborate within a closed circle of people -- for example, if you and a friend or family member are working together on a private letter or working on taxes.
Docs set to this option are accessible to anyone inside the domain who knows the URL of the file. If you also select the ‘Allow anyone to edit’ option, anyone with the URL will be able to view and edit your file. This option allows you to easily copy and paste the file’s link into chat, email and calendar invites for quick access and feedback.
Docs set to this option will be indexed by Google Docs search and may be opened by anyone in your organization.
If your Google Apps administrator allows sharing outside of your organization, you will also be able to make a file Public on the web or available to Anyone with the link (no sign in required). Administrators can also control the default visibility setting from the control panel.
A doc set to Anyone with the link is like an unlisted phone number. In the same way that anyone who knows an unlisted phone number can call it, anyone who knows the web address of a doc in this category can view it. If you also select the 'Allow anyone to edit' option, anyone with the URL will also be able to view and edit your document. Sign-in is not required, so viewers and editors may show up as anonymous.
Anyone with the link is a great setting if you want to give easy access to information to a bunch of people (as long as the contents of the doc aren't sensitive). For example, if you want to share a syllabus and a book list, you could put that info into doc set to anyone with the link and send your students the link. Docs in this category are generally not indexed by search engines, but they may show up in search results if the doc URL appears on another webpage that is indexed.
Set a doc to public if you want to make it publicly available to anyone. Public docs may get indexed by search engines (like Google Web Search), can show up in search results, and anyone who finds the web address of the doc can access it. If you also select the 'Allow anyone to edit' option, anyone that finds the document will also be able to view and edit your document.
Public on the web is a great setting if you're trying to get the word out about something. For example, you could create a flyer for a school event, save it as a public doc, post a link to it on your blog, and maybe ask other teachers or students to do the same.
You can change the visibility options of a document at any time
Google Docs also provides you with the ability to publish a document to the web, just like any other web site. Publishing a document to the web creates a separate read-only web page out of a document that is independent of the original and it’s sharing settings. This would allow you to allow a small number of people to collaborate on a document, but publish to the web for viewing for a large number of people. You can also embed the document into an existing web page, Google Site, or blog. Lastly, you can choose to have the published web page be automatically updated everytime a change is made to the original document.
Remember: publishing a document to the web is independent of the sharing and visibility options that may have already been configured!
If you don’t necessarily want to allow collaborators to have “free reign” to make changes to a document, you can take advantage of the “Suggested Edits” feature of Google Drive to allow collaborators to make suggested changes to a document that you can ultimately accept or reject.
In order to enable Suggested Edits, you simply need to give people either “Can Comment” or “Can Edit” privileges to a document. Once you do, your collaborators will have access to a new “Editing “Mode” menu that appears underneath the blue “Share” button. Collaborators who have “Can Comment” access to a document will have two options under the Editing Mode menu; Suggesting and Viewing.
Collaborators who have “Can Edit” access have an additional Editing option.
When a collaborator makes a Suggested Edit, any other collaborator with “Can Edit” privileges will see the Suggested Edit in the right margin, very much like a comment. The Suggested Edit can be approved or rejected by hovering the mouse cursor over the box in the right-hand margin and then clicking the checkmark or X buttons.
As you create more and more Documents, the long list of files within your Google Drive can become overwhelming. Here are some ways to organize your Drive.
Depending upon your preference, you can view the documents, files and folder in your Drive in either “List View” or “Grid View”. Grid View provides a preview of certain types of documents and files, so it can make it easier to locate what you’re looking for.
Folders can be a helpful way of organizing your files and Google Documents within Google Drive. You can assign folders specific colors and even create folders within other folders to design your own organizational system. You can even share entire folders with other people to make collaborating on a large number of Documents simple.
Once you've created folders, you can add Documents and files to the folders to organize them. There are a number of different ways to move Documents and files into a folder, but here's one fairly straightforward method.
If your students have school issued Google accounts, it opens up a wide variety of possible ways to use Google Drive and Docs within your classroom. Because Google Drive is “device agnostic”, you don’t need to worry about what kind of device students have at home. They will be able to access and use Google Drive, as long as they have internet access. Here are a few suggestions on how utilize the tools with your students.
When you share a Document with students and give them “Can View” access, they will not be able to change the original Document. However, they can “Make a Copy” of the Document and create their own editable copy. Think of the original as a template that the students use as a starting point for their own assignment. Students can easily make their own editable copy of a Document by clicking on the File menu and selecting “Make a copy”.
If you’re going to be frequently sharing Documents with your class, you may find it easier to create a shared folder.
While you can certainly ask your students to share their assignments with you, it may be easier to show students how to create shared folders to use to hand-in their assignments. Once they have created a folder and shared it with you, they will simply need to move their documents and files into the folder to hand them in. Students will want to make sure to give you “Can Comment” or “Can Edit” privileges on the shared folder.
Because you could potentially have an extremely large number of shared folders and documents to keep track of, it’s a good idea to come up with a naming convention for your various classes and students. Once you decide on a naming convention, you will need to teach your students to use that convention.
For example, you may want to create a folder for each class, and then ask students to create a “Hand-in” folder for themselves that is shared with you. You may want to ask students to name the folders in a specific pattern, for example by class/period and then LastnameFirstName (e.g. ELA213-SmithJohn). When you create and share assignments, you may want to ask students to name them by class/period, then LastnameFirstname, and then name of the assignment (e.g. ELA213-SmithJohn-BookReview).
If the amount of files and folders gets to be too overwhelming to try and organize yourself, there are a number of different tools, both free and paid, that can help with the process. Here are a few to check out:
gClassFolders is a very useful Google script that helps create folder structures for classes and students based on a Google spreadsheet that you would create. Lots of teachers across the country have been using this free tool to help structure and organize their Google Drive for use with their students.
Doctopus is a free Google script that teachers have been using to automate the process of creating folder structures for their classes. There are a bunch of tutorials that you can find online about Doctopus. Here's one to get you started, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1m4Lq6x66Th3O5kCBDlB8KuzN0zMATbqH3fgIPVqIs4U/edit
Google Classroom is a free tool available to schools using Google Apps for Education that, at its simplest, is “designed to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly.” Beyond just helping teachers and students work paperlessly, Google Classroom serve to facilitate online discussions and provide a simple blended learning environment. It can even be used by schools to provide online training and PD to staff members who have Google Apps for Education accounts. Because Classroom can be used on a traditional PC or Mac, Chromebook, iPad, iPhone, or Android device, it allows teachers and students to work with whatever device they may be most comfortable.
You can check it out at http://classroom.google.com
gScholar is a paid service that helps teachers and students to automatically organize their work and offers a number of tools to make using Google Drive with students much easier.
You can find out more about gScholar on the Promevo website at http://www.promevo.com/
Hapara Teacher Dashboard is another paid service that helps teachers and students automatically organize their work and offers a number of tools to make using Google Drive with students much easier. Hapara Teacher Dashboard is also offers a read-only “parent portal” to allow parents to have visibility into their children’s school Google Apps account.
You can find out more about Hapara Teacher Dashboard on their website at http://hapara.com/products/
One of the things that makes Google Apps easy to learn is that the built-in “Help” functionality is actually helpful! A good place to get started is to view the tips and tricks about Drive in the Google Help Center.
The “official” Google for Education site has extensive training materials and self-paced courses on many of the Google tools, including Drive.
The “official” Google for Education site has an entire “Resources” section with a searchable archive of Lesson Plans, Learning Guides, How to Videos, and Webinars.
While not an “official” site, “Ask the Gooru” has a ton of short tips, tricks, and videos on a variety of the Google tools, including Drive. This site is updated frequently, sometimes daily, so following them on Twitter or Google+ will help keep you up to date on the latest tips.
Here is a blog with 21 small, easily “digestible” Docs and Drive tips that was used with Smithfield Public Schools staff members to introduce and familiarize them with Google Docs and Drive.