Google Drive Update Adds Functionality for the Classroom

The Google Drive app for Android was updated yesterday and includes a bunch of cool features for teachers.

The standout updates for me were:

Ability to download files.  The older Drive app allowed you (and still does) the ability to save a document or file for offline viewing.  Now, however, you can actually download the file directly to your Android device.  I tested it out by uploading an .mp3 to Drive on my laptop, then downloading it onto my device and it worked.  From there I was able to open it up in the Google Play Music app.  This is great because file management on mobile devices – how to get things from point A the student to point B the teacher – has always been an issue.  Yes there are workarounds but it’s usually a process and it’s hardly ever seamless.  Now, if a student creates a movie or audio file on one device, they should be able to save it to their Drive account, download it to another device and keep working without having to include Dropbox, and thus another login account.

Download a file
Download a file

Scan documents.  Drive for Android now allows you to scan documents as a PDF.  I use this function quite a bit with Evernote for anything from receipts to important documents, so it’s nice to see that functionality extended to Drive.  Drive utilizes OCR to help quickly search for a document and pull it up, which is helpful.  Scanning documents from a mobile device is one step closer to becoming a near paperless class.

Scan a doc in Drive
Scan a doc in Drive

Although this is available for Android only at the moment, I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that the update will be coming to iOS devices in the not too distant future.  Google has a pretty good track record as of late of keeping iOS and Android apps competitive with each other (i.e. Maps) and in some cases, better (still no YouTube Capture for Android?).

See the list below for all of the features available for the latest Google Drive for Android.

* With Google Drive, you can store all your files in one place, so you can access them from anywhere and share them with others
* Use the Google Drive Android app to access your photos, documents, videos and other files stored on your Google Drive
* Upload files to Google Drive directly from your Android device
* Share any file with your contacts
* Access files others have shared with you on Google Drive
* Make any file available offline so you can view them even when you don’t have an Internet connection
* Manage files on the go
* Create and edit Google documents with support for tables, comments and rich text formatting
* Create and edit Google spreadsheets with support for text formatting, multiple sheets and sorting
* Edits to your Google documents and spreadsheets appear to collaborators in seconds
* View Google presentations with full animations and speaker notes
* View your PDFs, Office documents and more
* Scan documents, receipts and letters for safe keeping in Drive; then search by contents once uploaded
* Print files stored in Google Drive on the go using Google Cloud Print
* Open files stored in Google Drive through Drive enabled apps in the browser
* Optimized experience to take advantage of larger screens for tablet users, Honeycomb (Android 3.0+)

List taken from Google Play.

Google Apps: What is Mission Critical to You?

As a Google Certified Teacher (and soon to be Trainer), using Google Apps is the norm in my classroom.  From Google Docs, to Maps, Forms, and Sites, there are a plethora of apps I use.

Some apps, to me, are more important than others.  As a social studies teacher, I relish any opportunity to use Google Maps.  Sites offers an opportunity to have students create meaningful learning to them by collecting information in a way they can connect with and share that learning with others.

There Can Be Only One Google App!

But above all, I’d be hard pressed to continue running my classroom the way I do without the use of Docs.  I use docs is so many different ways to engage students, evaluate and assess students, and to collect information from students.  Additionally, it’s incredible to see what learning connections can be made between students when you have them work collaboratively on a document.

What is your Mission Critical Google App?  Would the way you teach your students suffer if it weren’t there?

Leave feedback below.

Using Google Docs for Peer Editing

I’ve recently posted on how I share a Google Doc with students.  One of my goals using Google Docs with students is for them to become better editors of each others work.  With that in mind, I’ve taught my students a few simple ways to edit each others works in Google Docs.

Over time, I’d like my students to become purveyors of their own work more and more.  The idea (and I’m sure it’s not mine) is for the students to be able to critically analyze what each other written work to improve their own writing.

So far, I think it’s an effective tool.  The catch is, that the feedback needs to be authentic and not just fluff.  Of course, this is where teaching instruction comes into play.

Sharing Google Docs with Students

This year I got my classes off to the right foot as I showed them how to use the Google Apps we have available in our district.  My plan was to show them the power of collaborating with other students in real time using Google Docs.  The kids loved it and were excited to use it as a collaboration piece.  In order for Google Docs to actually work well as a collaborative tool, however, it’s important to learn how to actually share the document.

Which is what I showed my students.

Share and share alike indeed.

Google Enables Multiple Sign-In Accounts, Multiple Browsers Windows D.O.A.

My web Browser, now with more Google!

Google enabled multiple sign-in accounts today.  So what?  So what?? I’ll tell you so what.  That means that with my personal Google Account, my professional school related Google Account, and the Google account I have through our district’s Google Apps account, I can be signed in to all three at the same time.  Perfect for work productivity (personal) collaboration with colleagues (professional), and checking student work (Apps acct.)  There are some limitations though, so make sure you check the fine print here.

Google in the Classroom: Part 1

I’m giving a short presentation to staff at my school on how Google can be used in the classroom.  For “Part 1”, I’ll be focusing on using Search and Google Docs.  The emphasis will be twofold:

  1. How to use Search and Docs in a practical way.
  2. Try to brainstorm creative ideas to use Search and Docs in the classroom within the context of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

I’m all for introducing new ideas, but I’m also interested in giving participants work time so they can actually try out some of the things I’ll be covering.  Check out the presentation and make sure to click on the links!

5 Things I’m Thankful For

The tryptophan has finally worn off and I’ve recovered from a Black Friday headache I care not to relive.  So, after carefully pondering what I’m thankful for in regards to ed tech integration in my classroom throughout the past year, here is a short list I’ve managed to come up with (in no particular order).

1. Activboard
Since the start of my teaching career, perhaps the thing that has changed my approach to teaching the most since I began teaching six years ago is the Interactive White Board (and the ActivInspire software that goes with it). When implemented well, the IWB engages students in lessons and allows for active feedback and participation. Although it has improved the classroom experience – and learning – for students, it has been most beneficial to me by helping me to teach more effectively. I love using visuals to help teach history and during the course of a classroom discussion, I want to be able to show students exactly the point I’m trying to get across. The IWB helps me do this like no other tool has in the past.

Great kids, not mine.

2. Google
My usage of Google has been chronicled here in the past, so I won’t go into too much of an explanation of why I am thankful for it being in my classroom. Suffice it to say that I believe Google (and all the services it provides) to increase student’s creativity and collaboration while at the same time providing a free service that is accessible and easy to use. As more technology is integrated into classroom experiences, those are the three ideals that should be emulated: free, accessible, and easy to use.

Google Docs

3. Enthusiastic Students.

Although there has been some early learning pains with my students learning new processes, most students are excited about using the new technologies in class because it is helping them learn. Additionally, the work that I get back from a lot of students is such a creative and personalized endeavor, it makes for a far more unique learning experience.  No matter what you’re doing in class, if the kids aren’t behind it, it’s not going to fly.

4. Inspiring Colleagues
Simply stated, the amount of work I’ve created (and lost) over my professional career would not have been possible without getting amazingly creative ideas for fellow coworkers.

5. Administrative Support
I think I’m more fortunate than I realize. As I follow educators on Twitter and read blog posts, many teachers seem to have trouble convincing the school hierarchy that tech in the classroom is a worthwhile investment. My school and district have been amazingly supportive of myself and other teachers in the district. Of course money is always an issue, but I’ve never heard of anyone been told that their ideas in innovating the classroom were bad.

What are you thankful for?  Post below.