Google Workspace for Education
We became a Google district in 2014. As such, all staff and students have Google Workspace accounts. Those accounts give us access to a variety of tools and services, including our email.
Below, you will find a brief description of and resources for many of the services that come with your account. In addition, for more general information and help, check out these:
I will start with this one because I am confident that this is the service that gets the most use. To best explain why this is the case, let me tell you what Drive will do.
Storage & Organization
Users can upload any file to Drive and essentially use it as cloud storage. You can also make folders in Drive to group files. You then have the ability to download that file anywhere that you have internet access. Many people end up using this aspect of Drive to replace USB drives as a way to move files back and forth between school and home.
Students, in particular, may find this valuable for keeping their work organized and available. Ok, many of us could probably use that too.
Be aware that Google Apps for Education has no storage limit for each user. So embrace your inner digital-hoarder!
Drive can be used to create, edit, save and print word processing documents, presentations (think simplified PowerPoint), spreadsheets, forms for surveys or assessments, and drawings. It is true that the word processor, presentation creator and spreadsheets do not have all the bells and whistles that are found in the Microsoft Office suite which is installed on all district computers. However, there are a few things that should be pointed out.
First, All Microsoft Office documents can be uploaded into Drive and converted to Drive documents that you may then edit. The same is true in reverse; you can take a document from your Drive and download it to your computer as the corresponding Office file.
Second, the above process can be done as many times as you like. So you could start a Word document at school, upload it to Drive, work on it at home as a Drive document, go back to school and download it as a Word document, and so on. A word of caution: as I said, the Drive versions are simplified, so if you have an Office document with a lot of the bells and whistles, you will lose those if you convert to a Drive document.
Third, it’s free and doesn’t require the purchase of any software. All of these Google services are available for free on any internet-capable device, smartphones included.
Sharing & Collaboration
Any file that you have in Drive can be shared with any other user. This isn’t the same as emailing a file to someone else though. You aren’t giving them a static copy of a file. You are giving them access to a living document. Depending on how you choose to share the file, you can allow them just to view it. Their view of the document will change every time you change the document. In other words, you can continue to edit the document and they will see the most up-to-date version. I’m sure if you stop and think about it, you can start to see some possibilities right there. For instance, let’s say you need to turn plans in on a weekly basis. Instead of turning in, or emailing, a separate document each week, you could just share a Drive document and add to it each week.
But that’s not where the real power of sharing is. The real power is in the collaboration that it makes possible. When you share a file, you can choose to allow the other user to become an editor of the file. Collaborators can make changes to the files themselves (it keeps a log of who made which changes), or can add notes that appear to the side of the document. Some possible uses include: grading and feedback on student work by a teacher or teachers, peer review and feedback, group creation of a final product, or sharing and discussion of exemplars. There are districts that have gone to almost completely paperless classrooms by having all work between teachers and students shared within Drive.
Google Drive Help Center - includes introductory videos, guides and troubleshooting
Drive and Docs: Basics - a short video overview of how to use Drive for storage, the types of files that can be created, and the benefits of sharing and collaboration
"Making the Most of Google Docs" - from Catlin Tucker's excellent blog on technology integration and blended learning