More recently, a new world of online applications has come into being, providing more convenient ways of creating, storing, and sharing collections of information and projects. Because of their simplistic design and convenience, Google’s applications have become an asset to professionals and students alike, and they are being adopted by countless organizations. But how about their usefulness when it comes to the school system?
Before implementing Google Apps for Education in your classroom, it’s helpful to consider the benefits for teachers and students, as the applications might be fantastic assets in some respects but problematic in others.
Accessibility and Collaboration Between Students and Teachers
Among the many benefits of using Google Apps for Education in the classroom is their ease of accessibility. As they are stored online, anyone can use them from wherever they have access to the Internet — at home, at the library, or in the classroom.
Storing documents online makes it easy for collaboration. If you assign a group project, it’s convenient for students to work together from different locations. They can see the same document at the same time, keep tabs on who last edited it, communicate with one another through instant messaging, and post comments for others to see. Once a document is shared with a teacher, he or she can also post comments and keep track of student progress.
Eco-Friendly Technology for Green-Conscious Schools
A huge boon of using Google Apps for Education to view student work is that a great deal of paper is saved. While this is primarily an earth-friendly feature, it also means that, as a teacher, you won’t have to carry stacks of papers home whenever an assignment is due. Many teachers also enjoy using Google’s online sheets for creating syllabi, which can be shared with students on calendars, and for keeping track of grading and homework.
Moving Beyond Just Google Docs: Sheets, Slides, and More
Beyond documents and sheets, students and teachers can also create presentations with Google Slides. If you’re able to connect your computer to an overhead projector, using this tool can make daily lessons and student projects a breeze. Google Slides may not offer the same number of features as a PowerPoint program, but unless your class hones in on design techniques, Google’s application will likely be all you need.
School-Friendly Features: Autosave and Edits Tracking
On the flipside, having access to everything at the touch of a button can be a bad thing when malicious intent comes into play. All it takes is obtaining a fellow class mates’ login information to alter or steal their work.
To counteract this, Google Docs has a ‘save’ feature that when clicked on also shows the history of edits to a document and can then be used to revert to an older version of the document. So in the case that another student deletes or alters someone else’s work, a teacher can simply backtrack the edits.
Another issue to watch out for: The automatic save feature can make it tough to save different drafts of the same document (for example, Draft 1 versus Final Draft). When using Google Docs, students will need to be cognizant of their papers’ various stages of progress, so that they can select, “Copy Document” from the toolbar and give themselves the option of returning to previous versions of their papers.
If you’re aware of, and can work around, Google Apps for Education’s shortcomings, they can be highly effective in the classroom. Just beware of security risks and know what you can and can’t expect from your students when asking them to use Google for their assignments. And if you’re looking for more ways to implement web-based tools in your classroom, don’t hesitate to reach out to iSupportU for ideas!