Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Productivity Apps in Education: Google Drive

Are you ready for a hard drive in the cloud? Do you have co-teachers or administrators who are nagging you to explain it? Then you need to use Google Drive.

      Google Drive is a way to store your files on Google's servers, or "in the cloud."  If you run the free Google Drive application, then you get a folder on your computer (Windows or OSX) that looks just like a directory on your hard disk that you can drag your files in to.  Anything stored in that folder is kept on your hard disk and also copied to your account in the cloud.  You can access those files from drive.google.com, from other computers, or from mobile devices.  

      Google drive is also the new name for Google Docs, which is Google's suite of Web-based productivity tools - its word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation app.  Files that you drag into your Drive from your hard disk are actually copied to the cloud.  They're also synchronized to other computers that use Google Drive.  This means that any file you put in the drive, and anything you change that's stored in the drive, is automatically updated not just in the cloud but on all the other devices that you have connected to the Drive.  So you can start working on a file on one computer, close it, and then open it on a second computer, and what you'll see is the version you closed on the first one. Google Drive is a tool that is directed at frequent Google apps users. If you use Google Docs, Maps, Calendar, any Android devices, and now Google Play, then you'll likely want to try Google Drive.  You will be able to store all of your "stuff" from these apps in one place. 

      Google Drive is a great educational tool.  It's going to be a useful way for entire classrooms and schools to collaborate.  Better yet, Google Drive lets you literally do a search for all your stored files. Even younger students will be able to use Google Drive.  Imagine your students creating custom maps in Google Maps to illustrate where they'd like to travel. Visit the following link to discover more ways you can use Google Docs/Drive in your classroom.  http://edudemic.com/2012/10/google-forms-classroom/. Of course, everything has it its disadvantages. With Google Drive, you are given a limit of 5 GB space and will have to pay for additional space.  Also, some people believe that being affiliated too much with one single company is bad. Google has more control over us now. 

     Since I am currently teaching in a classroom "with walls," I am not able to use Google Drive in my classroom with my students.  However, I frequently use it at home and in my professional development courses.  The best thing about Google Drive is that it makes collaboration between many parties very simple.  No more e-mailing back and forth, no more having to keep up with thumb drives or flash drives, and no more worries about which version of a specific file is the latest/most recent version.  No wonder why Google Drive and Google Apps are known as the "GTD" apps - because they enable me to get things done!
      So, if your iPhone goes for a swim, or your laptop takes an infinite snooze, no matter what happens to your devices, your files are safely stored in Google Drive.

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