- Tausif Mulla
How colleges can benefit from G Suite for Education
Almost a decade back, Google rolled out Google for Education with a vision to bring innovative learning in the classroom. Since its implementation, it has come a long way with new apps and features working seamlessly with other Google apps.
Over the years, Google has added products like Classroom, Hangouts, Calendar, etc which has changed the classroom dynamics by leaps and bounds. In 2016, Google Apps for Education was renamed as G Suite for Education as it reflects the collaborative power of these tools.
G Suite for Education comprises of the same set of apps that you and I use on a daily basis and love it - Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, Hangouts, Keep and more. So what's the difference between G Suite and G Suite for Education? All the apps are slightly tweaked in the education suite with new intelligent features that bring teachers and students on the same platform by means of collaboration.
G Suite for Education is FREE for schools and colleges. This doesn't end here. If you register your school or college under g Suite for Education you institution gets unlimited space in google drive. If you are someone like me who stores all the data, lesson plan, presentations in the cloud, you will understand that this is close to hitting a home run. In the regular g Suite, the user gets around 30 GB drive space and a free version of Google Drive offers 15 GB space. Most schools, colleges & universities around the world are unaided. With a free tool like G Suite for Education institutions find it easy to enroll and enhance their overall productivity.
Google Apps for Education aka GAFE (now renamed as G Suite for Education) is available on any smart device like mobile, tablet, Chromebook, laptops, etc. In a college, this increases the potential for lecturers and students to check in and get to work at any time using any device they own. For example, if a student is working on an assignment in Google Docs, he/she can work along with the faculty to improvise the content.
I encourage all my students to work on their assignments in google docs. Since it is a cloud-based application no more excuses for "my laptop crashed" (pun intended).
How Google Apps for Education can benefit college classroom
1) Google Docs
Before these awesome Google apps came into my life, I was a Microsoft user all through my life. Microsoft Word was one program that helped me pass through my colleges and even helped me during my MBA days. But things have changed rapidly, for good. Now, it's all about being fast and smart. Google Docs is an exceptional alternative to Microsoft Word. With Google Docs, you can collaborate with the student or a teammate in real-time. Students can collaborate on a group activity in a classroom. Have a look at the screenshot below.
At the top right corner, you can see I have shared the doc with another user (with pink outline) and that user can now type his part in the document.
In the above image, it shows me the other person who has got the access to the document. Now, we both can collaborate on this assignment/article.
Another feature that I recommend is the "Explore in Google Docs". Wouldn't it be great if you get images, content, etc straight from your doc? With the explore feature, you can get content from the web without leaving your doc's tab.
Images used through Google Explore functionality comply with Safe Search and are allowed for use with Creative Commons. So you don't have to worry about copyright infringement.
Google Explore feature is available in Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
2) Google Sheets
Spreadsheets are very handy when it's all about numbers. Many of us (including me) struggle with a spreadsheet-like excel due to its complex UI. Even to get a simple SUM or an Average, we might find it difficult.
But not anymore. Google Sheets will make life easier for students and educators. In google sheets, if you want to get the sum of cells, you simply select the range and click on explore feature. With artificial intelligence, the explore feature will suggest to me what formula do I want to use? How cool is that?
Have a look at this snapshot.
Since collaboration is at the center of all G Suite for Education apps, you can collaborate with students in real-time. For instance, the accounting faculty can collaborate with a group of students to analyze the Balance Sheet or P&L of a company.
3) Google Slides
Often, my students and fellow faculties tell me that they like my slides. Simple and yet engaging. Since, the time I made the switch from Microsoft PowerPoint to Google Slides, I have never looked at another content presentation program.
For college students, making a presentation can be a daunting task as many ideas cross to the mind but need to be streamlined the creative juices. Often, students spend more time formatting slides than working on the content. With Google Slides, students can focus on the content and can even collaborate with their team.
One feature that's handy is adding YouTube videos directly to the slides.
The last innovative feature in the list that students and educators can make use of is the presenter view. When you click on presenter view, you will have two options.
When you click on "Start New" you will be promoted with a short link, that can be shared with the audience. With this link, the audience can ask their questions straight to the presenter without the use of a mic.
4) Google Keep
With all the amazing apps from Google, the one app that has become my "Go-To" app is the KEEP app. Google Keep, for me, is like a Swiss knife. This lightweight app can become a life savior. For students & faculties, it can be used for writing classroom notes, saving images with annotations, saving voice clips and handwritten notes with a help of a stylus (in case of smartphones and few Chromebooks).
Consider Google Keep as a digital sticky note for all your ideas & thoughts. If you are like me, who likes to have access to things when it is needed, then you have to get KEEP on your phone, tablet or laptop. With keep, you can even include checklists and photos to keep a track record. Faculties can use it to make checklists of the things to be covered in the classroom, lesson plans, links to great articles, etc. Notes made in Google keep are synced to all your devices so you can access when you need.
In my next post, I will share the benefits of other G Suite for Education applications and how they can be used in the classroom.