Last week Google decided to turn Google Docs into Google Drive but was is merely a name change and if not, what are the implications for education? To be honest, not much has changed, yet. Google Drive now allows users to not only write, share and store documents, spreadsheets and presentations, it allows one to store any type of file. Google have also increased the storage from 1GB data to 5GB, which is perfect timing for my growing list of documents. However, the biggest change of all is the new Google Drive software, which can be installed on any type of computer or tablet. This is important when one combines Google Drive with its offline mode as now, even without Internet access, one can find and edit files. When an Internet connection is back, it automatically syncs. To be honest, there isn’t much between this and Dropbox. Google Drive, however, opens up its native documents rather than relying on an Office program to do so.
Educationally, this gives students and teachers fantastic opportunities for sharing files even more easily than before. While I can see this being much more useful for secondary students for uploading projects, etc. at primary level, there are loads of opportunities.
Access to the same document no matter what computer you are on is a big plus for me. There is no more need for potentially virus-ridden USB keys, not to mention all the compatibility problems we have in Irish schools with computers still ranging from Windows ’98 upwards. I like the idea of lots of schools working together on the same document whatever that may be and combining together to make something special like a joint poem or story. How about children in different schools peer-assessing their counterparts in other schools? Because, we’re not limited to Google’s documents, spreadsheets, etc. schools can share resources easily, a bit like our sister site, Mash.ie, does right now.
Google Drive has yet to be rolled out to my school’s Google Apps account but I’m hoping that when it does, we’ll see even more power when Drive is combined with Google Sites. I can see lots of opportunities for creativity. One thing that I think might be possible is to create a Moodle style site that would be appealing for younger children. Being able to embed all sorts of files (Google Drive already can read over 30 types of file without extra software installation) in a Google Site through Drive gives fantastic opportunities. If the design is right, it could pave a nice way for primary schools to add a Learning Management System that doesn’t have the aesthetic problems that Moodle has at primary level.
I’m looking forward to seeing how Google Drive will affect other primary schools and what kinds of creative ideas will occur. Take a look at Google’s promotional video below to see what might whet your appetite.
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