High Five for Google Drive & its army of useful apps within!

I had a bad experience with Powtoon, so I wanted to restart with an app/tool that I could really sink my teeth into and enjoy as a teacher and online digital person overall.

I also borrowed Sarah Munro’s idea of tackling a tool in which I could review other tools within!

Why do I like Google Drive?

I like Google Drive because, with the ease of remembering ONE PASSWORD, you have an incredibly simple-to-use, yet entirely integrated and complete community to create and share information. By this I mean you can make FREE Powerpoints and Documents without worrying about paying a monthly/annual fee to Office 365. It is integrated or “connected” in that, with the ease of the “Share” button…

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… I can import info to my Drive from almost any apps I have on my phone (my Camera for example).

I love it because I can access the Drive from my mobile device, my laptop, or anyone else’s laptop. It isn’t an app where I need a specialized device to open it (looking at you, Apple products, with your iPhones and iTunes). Also, you can choose to select that the file be saved to your device offline, so when you click on Google Drive from a different device, it might be connected to the Internet but it WILL still show you your file!

One pet peeve is that Google Drive is not as developed for mobile as desktop – so for example, I cannot do “talk to text” on Documents from my mobile phone. However, I tried the “talk to text” feature on my desktop and it is amazing. It does NOT pick up recordings (I tried to convert Katia’s verbal feedback – ha) but it DOES pick up your voice crystal clear.

I was floored when I realized I could download apps from the Google Play Store, use them, and then send my final products to my Google Drive. The main one I have enjoyed is Scanbot. From your phone, you open up the App and focus your camera view onto the document you want. You even have the option of creating a multi-page document! It will then give you prompts like “Move closer” or “Perspective” (line your camera up with the angle of the document better) and when it says “Do not move” it will take a photo for you, so you do not have to click the buttons.

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You can use “Filters” which is a life saver as a teacher – look how my horribly brown photo was fixed to a pure black-and-white document, ready to be mass-photocopied!

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Example of Finished Scanbot Document

Why is Scanbot useful for teachers? Well, for starters, if you find a document you can photocopy but there is no photocopier around, you can just take a photo with your phone, and make a .pdf and print it off at home! It is also great for trying to be more environmentally conscious as a digital citizen (instead of printing off a copy that might not get used or get lost in storage, print it online and put it in an online folder to use when ready). It is also easier to share your resources with other teachers when they are online – you can just transfer with the click of an e-mail, instead of expecting them to photocopy all of your junk!

To clarify, Scanbot is not an attached app to Google Drive. When I was on Google Drive on my mobile device, Drive somehow (I cannot remember how) suggested I try Scanbot because it would work with Google Drive as far as importing/exporting goes. In short: Google Drive is just a good friend, always trying to help you out.

Why is Google Drive useful for teachers? The fact that it can be your home-base, your centre for all information to come into, is pretty exciting. It integrates so smoothly between my desktop and my phone. I feel confident enough to make use of it no matter where I am or what technology I have in front of me, because it is quick and simple. Because it is set up as an actual file folder on your computer (not JUST accessible online) you can quickly and conveniently back up your file folder to a memory stick. Here is a screenshot showing how versatile Google Drive is… Both the online folder and the computer folder are updated instantly.

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I continued to explore Google Drive from my desktop and clicked on “NEW”… and was opened up to a word of Apps. I even found good old Powtoon, so I will check it out and report back if it is easier to use through Google Drive.

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Why is MindMeister good for teaching? I settled on trying MindMeister, a mindmap app, because I thought this would be handy for using with my students. It could be used as an assessment tool to gauge prior knowledge, or summative knowledge (how much do you remember about _______). I could “Push” the document and open it for sharing, and anyone logged into devices could edit it from that link. I don’t believe the students would even have to be Google members though, I could just push it to their student e-mails. This allows for student input and activity to make a more engaging lesson.

I think one solid PLUS towards Google Drive could be the fact that you accidentally or intentionally just end up running into other Apps – like I did with Scanbot and MindMeister. It is a goldmine for finding useful tools as a teacher – go forth and explore!

Here is a beautiful mindmap I created, in minutes, showcasing a summary of why I love Google Drive:

https://mm.tt/869964397?t=NHFmxa1tOM

I wanted this to be an authentic learning experience, so I made sure that Google Drive had a hand in ALL images I uploaded. I could send it to and from a variety of apps: Camera, Scanbot, WordPress, Adobe Photoshop (to crop the Share button), and Microsoft Word (to save my desktop screenshots). All images were easily named and placed in my ECMP355 Photos file folder in Google Drive. I used Scanbot from my phone and uploaded most of my blog from my desktop. Woohoo!

I realize I did this blog post quite similarly to an old one, which you can view here. I have been excited by Google Drive for a loooong time, and it continues to amaze and deliver.

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