Friday, May 18, 2012

Google Docs: More than just "Plain Text"

Google Docs: More than Plain Text
If you've dabbled just a bit or maybe even dove deep into Google docs the past five years you've been through quite a few iterations of the text based version of this wunderkind tool. From basic clunky collaboration (remember writely), to the insanity of document free for alls; folks writing on top of each other, and wonky workarounds like horizontal lines and tables. It is safe to say that Google Docs has changed quite a bit the past five years.
One thing that has not received much love or attention is the formatting bar. Formatting features are no longer in the conversation when it comes to choosing your collaborative classroom document creation tool.  Looking back at the dull and drab out of the box features like fonts, colors, commenting, bullets, alignment, and tables; it really goes to show just how badly we needed a tool like this available to all of our teachers and students. 
Questions like, “Why would I need a wiki if my document creator can do all of this,” were running through folks heads as the next iteration of the tool(s) came and took our use to the next level of text document design. Functional design and organizational features like headings, headers, footers, footnotes, bookmarks and the underused Paint Brush formatting, which makes big changes in a snap, made it an easy sell in the classroom.
What flipped the script and changed things during the 10’-11’ school year was some of the advanced-ness that came into our collaborative document tool. The Ability to quickly insert nuggets of awesome like math equations, collaborative mind maps, drawings, and advanced use of hyperlinks (linking to emails, bookmarks, TOC) makes collaboration and co-creating handy, convenient, and über easy.

But, those really great features are nothing compared to what we have at our disposal today and how easily we can leverage the single space document creation tool with our learners.

The latest Image insertion is tremendous. Quick access from different sources, it is amazingly simple, easy to use, and makes sense to users. 
  • Upload
  • Take a snapshot
  • By url
  • Your Albums,
  • Integration with Drive
  • Search.

The New Research toolbar (left) provides the power of Google Search and reference into the document itself. Quick access to Google web search with relevant and useful vetting of sources. Quick checks for quotes, images, and the web, make it a decent research tool for students to use. Pagination view is great for page counters or printers as well.

To learn, practice, play with these and even more Google Docs features, tools, and latest nuances; join us at a Google Apps for Education Summit!
Register now for the CA Google Apps for Education Summit July 12-13th in Santa Clara CA and the Rocky Mountain Google Apps for Education Summit August 2-3 in Boulder CO.

Rocky Mountain Google Apps for Education Summit August 2-3 in Boulder CO.


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