Google, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: Google Drive (cloud storage for all types of media and word processing documents including access to your Google Apps such as Docs, Drawings, Slides, and Forms. For example, Google Docs is a great word processing app for collaboration with colleagues or for use on student projects. Google Drawings are a fun way to create a resume or poster. Google Slides are like PowerPoint presentations except you can’t add voice, you’ll need an app for that. The advantage of Google Slides is that you can update them virtually with those persons or websites with the link. Google Forms are a way to conduct surveys and otherwise get feedback. Google recently added quizzing capability to Forms.
I love Google Drive for the following reasons: ease of access from anywhere via my Gmail account, ability to share links or HTML code for embed, and I can correct errors quickly. The days of putting something out on the web with an error and then spending hours trying to retrace your steps to make corrections on each website is over. With Google Drive products, you only need to log in to the original creation via your Gmail and correct it. Instantly, it’s corrected on the Web—of course, the viewer would need to refresh the page to see the update.
Additionally, if you don’t see what you need, you can add an app to your Google Drive that integrates nicely (many of which are free): https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/collection/drive_apps. For instance, I just added the SlideRocket app to make better presentations. I’ll let you know how it works out.
Next, Google Maps, I know they’ve been around for a while, but I really like them. I’m collaborating on a community project of mapping various service providers listed in a printed guide for persons re-entering society after incarceration. Navigating the myriad of starting fresh and obtaining the necessary resources at the right time will help the previously incarcerated and also reduce recidivism. This Re-entry Google Map can also be printed as a PDF and shared with those who do not have access to the Internet. Additionally, you can keep the map private, if necessary, and share the link with identified participants.
Lastly, Google+ provides Hangouts, Events, an online profile, and the opportunity to provide updates akin to a Facebook status. Now that Google+ Hangouts has the ability to use live air streaming of your Hangout, many educators are using them. For example, the group of teachers I mentor during the professional development session for the Electronic Village Online will use a Hangout as part of their kick-off party this January. Moreover, the recording will serve as a way to meet the needs of participants who were unable to attend. The Google Events would be a great way to promote it. Google Events provides an invitation platform and reminder.
How do you use Google? Do you love it or hate it? Leave a comment and let me know.
P. S. I just thought of one more. Many of you are familiar with Google Translation, but have you tried it lately? If you type a complete sentence, it does a fairly good job in translating now. This is much better than word-for-word. The software can determine the context of the words in a sentence. Moreover, it will pronounce it for you! Just click on the microphone icon.