Monday, February 24, 2014

Google Drive - a Teacher's Experience

     During the first quarter of this school year, I kept my grades in an Excel file on a USB Flash drive. I made some copies on my hard-drive, but at one point I became complacent, and only saved on the USB drive. I was given a Macbook Pro to use, as part of the Technology program at my school. One day, I unplugged the USB drive while the computer was sleeping (without  closing out of the drive first). Quite a few of the USB files, including the ones I had been saving grades on became corrupted, and I could not access them again. Fortunately, I did not lose all of my grades.
    Meanwhile, I had begun using my district provided Gmail account exclusively. I also began using Google Drive, especially for students Specifically, I had students type up documents on their district-provided Google drive accounts, so that I did not have to teach them how to Save files and retrieve them. I like that Google automatically saved the students' work. Plus, I could see and retrieve the "Revision History" for students' work. I had one student who was really upset (in tears), because he could not find his file. Fortunately, he typed it in Google drive, and everything was found and restored.
   At the end of the first quarter, I decided to start saving my grades on Google drive, in a spreadsheet. It has done all of the math that I would expect from an Excel file. The great thing is, I don't have to worry about corrupted files or losing work. There was one day when Google experienced some outages, but none of my documents were affected.
   Overall, I have really enjoyed using Google Drive this year. I have expanded to incorporate 2 scripts that make using Drive as a teacher ever easier, and more manageable: gClassFolders and Doctopus. I can create assignments for students (similar to making copies for each student). Plus, any file students create in their Assignment folder is automatically shared with me.
   The people who enjoy Google Drive even more than I have, is my students. They want to type up their writing. They treat the Comment feature as Chat, which is neat for me, as I can monitor these statements. A few of my students have discovered the Presentations aspect of Google of their own.
   Now, I am beginning to thinking of sharing the action based research I have been doing about Spelling Tests. I am thinking that it's time for me to check out Google Drive Presentations for this. Maybe I need to have my students teach me how to use this :).
   I am going to see if Google Spreadsheets have the ability to create Frequency Tables and Line Plots to share the data I've collected. I'm off to check that out...

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