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What is Google Drive? Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service developed by Google. It allows users to store files on their servers, synchronize files across devices, and share files.

There are two versions of G Suite. One version for Education, and another version for businesses. The Education version is free to k-12 public schools.

In addition to a website, Google Drive offers apps with offline capabilities for Windows and macOS computers, Android, iOS smartphones, and tablets.

Google Drive encompasses Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, an office suite that permits collaborative editing of documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, forms, and more. 

Files created and edited through the office suite are saved in Google Drive. This study aims at investigating the effectiveness of Google Drive in enhancing the motivation, project work, and research skills of K-12 schools.

There are many types of research that support great motivation towards group work and projects upon using Google Drive, and proved that the structure of Google Drive helped students quickly obtain the data required for their project’s findings.

The researchers’ recommendations are urging the teachers of all levels to use Google Drive as a vital tool to enhance students’ motivation and collaboration skills.

Overview

Technology is transforming what’s possible in schools—enabling innovative solutions to learning’s biggest barriers. With the use of Google Drive devices, apps, and resources, it can easily bring the power of technology to your classroom.

Learning with Chromebooks

Chromebook is perfect for shareable class sets or 1 to 1 program, Chromebooks are versatile devices with dynamic content and G Suite built-in. They’re easy to use and simple to manage. Price, Ease of Use, Speed, and battery life make Chromebook computers an easy choice for classrooms.

That’s why U.S. schools have made them the #1 device for grades K-12. 

Promote collaboration with G Suite for Education

G Suite for Education is a suite of tools that can help to increase opportunities for critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity, all while supporting the learning objectives for students.

Save time and stay organized with Google Classroom

Think of Google Classroom as your command center. Create classes, distribute assignments, and send feedback— all in one place. It’s instant. It’s paperless. It’s easy for grades K-12.

Google Apps for Education arrived on the scene ten years ago with a vision to help teachers and students share and learn together in innovative ways.

Since then, it is has been bundled with added products like Google Classroom and Hangouts — tools that transcend the meaning of what an app means today, tools that are powerful alone but even better when they work together.

Engage students with digital tools

Digital tools can help teachers nurture responsible digital citizens. One can get the bundles of popular tools for common classroom needs like video-making, podcasts, and coding. Or use free apps like Google Earth, WeVideo, and Google Search.

G Suite for Education is the same set of apps that we know and love—Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, Hangouts, and more— but designed with new intelligent features that make work easier and bring teachers and students together. Here are some of the features in G Suite for Education:

Smarter spreadsheets

Google Sheets to help summarize spreadsheet data with automated charts and insights. But many students might not experience the full value of spreadsheets because they can’t write formulas.

This is a case of the computer requiring you to speak its language. Machine intelligence turns this upside down, so now the computer understands your language.

Students can simply enter a question using natural language and Explore in Google Sheets will use Natural Language Processing to translate the question into a formula and offer an instant answer.

Smarter documents

Google Docs with machine intelligence to automatically recommend related topics to learn about, images to insert, and more content to discover.

Students can even use Explore in Google Docs to find a related document from Drive, so they spend less time switching between apps and more time polishing their assignments.

Educators will be happy to hear that image searches performed using Explore limit results to those that comply with Safe Search and are approved for use with Creative Commons.

Smarter presentations

For students, making a presentation inspiring can be a lot of work. Often, students spend more time formatting slides than thinking creatively about the story they want to tell.

Now, as students add content to a presentation, Explore in Google Slides dynamically offers layout suggestions that help the content shine.

In just a couple of clicks, students can create polished presentations that bring their ideas to life.

The best thing about these intelligent features is that they’ll continue to learn and improve over time the more they’re used, and save students even more time tomorrow than they save them today.

Smarter scheduling

Finding time to meet with other teachers can be hard, especially when the list of people and locations you’re coordinating starts to grow. Google Calendar uses machine intelligence to help you easily find a time when invitees are free, and it also suggests available rooms based on your previous bookings.

When the list of invitees grows long and no times are available, Calendar will suggest times across the group where the conflicts are easiest to resolve, such as recurring 1:1 meetings.

Google Apps for Education

Google Classroom is a free application designed to help students and teachers communicate, collaborate, organize and manage assignments, grade and give feedback, go paperless, and much more.

Gmail: Gmail is a free, web-based email platform that offers SPAM protection and is completely ad-free in G Suite for Education accounts.

Google Drive: Google Drive allows you to store your files securely and access them from any device, as well as create, open, and edit your files. You have unlimited storage space with G Suite for Education.

Google Calendar: Google Calendar is a free, web-based calendar platform that is completely ad-free in G Suite for Education accounts.

Google Vault: Google Vault lets you retain, hold, search, and export your organization’s mail and chat messages. You can also search and export your organization’s files in Google Drive.

Google Docs: Google Docs is a free, web-based word processing tool that allows you to create and edit documents online and collaborate in real-time.

Google Sheets: Google Sheets is a free, web-based spreadsheet tool that allows you to create and edit spreadsheets online and collaborate in real-time. It is great for data analysis and organization.

Google Forms: Google Forms is a free, web-based form tool that allows you to create forms, surveys, and quizzes that collect response information in real-time.

Google Slides: Google Slides is a free, web-based presentation tool that allows you to create and edit presentations online.

Google Sites: Google Sites is a free and easy way to create and share websites and web pages.

Google Hangouts: Google Hangouts is a free communication and collaboration tool for text chats, video calls, and screen sharing.

What is Google Sheets as it pertains to grades k-12?

Google Sheets is a free, cloud-based spreadsheet application. That means you open it in your browser window like a regular webpage, but you have all the functionality of a full spreadsheet application for doing powerful data analysis. It really is the best of both worlds.

Nothing turns data into information like a spreadsheet. This is why spreadsheets are a fundamental tool to critically analyze any data that includes numbers.

There are many options (Numbers, Excel, and Open Office to name just a few), but arguably the most popular is Google Sheets. If you’re using Google Classroom or G Suite, you already have it.

That means there’s no separate log-in required, no unique password for students to forget, and no special install required to push it out to students. It’s right there, as part of the education package.

Most spreadsheet programs have similar options, so what characteristics make Google Sheets stand out?

Pros

The most common positives mentioned by users are:

  • You can collaborate with friends and colleagues.
  • You can share the spreadsheet as an embed code, either with viewing privileges or editing ones.
  • It can be synced across all devices, whether at home or school.
  • It works on all digital devices whether it’s a Mac, Windows, Chromebook, or iPad.
  • It provides a revision history, allowing you to scroll back to a better version of your work and/or track the contributions of collaborators.
  • It includes a chat window where collaborators can discuss their work before changing the spreadsheet.
  • Because Sheets is part of Google, it easily imports data from other Google Apps. It also exports nicely to the increasingly broad group of partners who work with Google Apps.
  • One more that I list as a Pro, but could be a Con: Sheets is easier to learn (that’s the Pro). The reason is there’s less to learn (that’s the Con). It focuses on the most popular functions, not the depth of need. If you’re a lite user of spreadsheets, this will serve you well, but if you are moderate to advanced, you may struggle to find the tool you were used to in Excel — if you can find it at all. For example, pivot tables are strictly an Excel tool.

Cons

  • It’s not the most robust spreadsheet available. Other programs handle vast amounts of data better (such as in excess of 1,000 rows) or provide more advanced formulas. It also isn’t the most user-friendly. If you’re used to the ease of creating and formatting in Excel, Sheets may disappoint you (as Google Docs will if you’re used to Word). Depending upon your needs, you’ll want to decide between paying to use Excel or go with the Google Sheets in the Google Apps package.
  • Also, Sheets is not as customized as other spreadsheet programs. There are a lot of short keys, but not much flexibility in the toolbar setup.
  • Finally, if you need fancy charts, Sheets may not be your program. Excel has more types of charts, more options for formatting those charts, and more flexibility to quickly change their layouts and styles.
  • Education applications
  • Here are nine ways to incorporate Google Sheets into a K-12 class:
  • The back-end of Google Forms
  • Google Forms data is collected in Google Sheets. From there, you can analyze, sort, manipulate, format, or share with stakeholders. This is a great two-step process for collecting and using data.
  • Charts
  • Tables are great for collecting and presenting data, but not always clear. Sheets can fix that. Once the table is created, students can quickly turn it into a chart for a visual display of the data by selecting Insert>chart. Charts can be edited, formatted, inserted into reports, and shared.

Students as young as third grade can check their answers to math problems using Sheets formulas. They first solve the math problem using steps recommended by the school’s native math curriculum and then check their work using Sheet’s built-in formulas.

Starting with adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing is a good way to introduce spreadsheet formulas and unpack what the algorithm means. See that algorithmic string turns into a math solution gets students excited about using what is often considered a geeky math tool.

Collecting Group Data

There is no better tool for sharing group information than a spreadsheet. This might be useful for class party duties, student reading logs or classmate contact information. Simply add a column of names on the left side and categories of information to the right. 

This can be completed by students, populated with data imported from an online source, or created automatically from a Google Form. With very little effort, all required information is collected in one place where it can be edited, formatted, and shared.

Drawing

Thanks to the fill tool, spreadsheets have become a popular medium for certain artists. Here’s an amazing example of the Mona Lisa, drawn in a spreadsheet, and here’s “Cherry Blossoms of the Historical Castle Site” by Tatsuo Horiuchi, the famed Excel spreadsheet artist. Spreadsheets offer an important option most art programs skip: the grid. 

Thanks to cells, a drawing can be placed and sized in perfect alignment with other parts of the drawing. Sometimes called Pixel Art, it can easily create the boxy Minecraft artwork or Pokemon by simply filling in cells with varied colors. Students can also add shapes, lines, and text to better communicate ideas.

Three options are available:

  1. Students fill in the cells with different colors to create a picture that can be tied into class inquiry. This is great for Kindergarten-2nd grade.
  2. You provide the cell addresses and instructions for what color to add to each cell. Students treat this option like a scavenger hunt and fill in the cell, add text, or even link it to another location.
  3. Students create a drawing and then list the instructions for each cell so classmates can reproduce the drawing.

References

Clark, C. (2016). A simpler guide to Google Drive for everyone: The unofficial guide to Google’s free online storage and cloud computing platform. Newport: Lycan Books.

Google Drive – Online File & Document Storage for Business. Accessed September 13, 2018. https://gsuite.google.co.in/intl/en_in/products/drive/.

Carrabba, Brad. “Students Perceptions Of Using Google Drive For Collaborative Writing And Classroom Projects.” ICERI2016 Proceedings, 2016. doi:10.21125/iceri.2016.0751.

“Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.” Wikipedia. September 12, 2018. Accessed September 13, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Docs,_Sheets,_and_Slides.

“Get Started with Sheets – Google Learning Center.” Google. Accessed September 13, 2018. https://gsuite.google.com/learning-center/products/sheets/get-started/.

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