Dedicated Apps for Sheets and Docs arrive on IOS with Slides on the way!
Last week saw the long awaited arrive of dedicated apps from Google for its Gdocs Sheets and Docs. These have been a long time coming and will mean that Gdocs users can now work on documents even if they have not got an internet connection.
But, some of the issues that surrounded the internet based Gdocs still exist! If you want to work on a copy of a document you must mark it “for offline usage” the app will then save a local copy to your device. You can then go ahead and work away on the document with the app looking and feeling just like the browser version we have all come to know and love. When you are back in internet range and have a connection the app automatically updates the document that you have been working on in your Gdrive. This gives the user a better working experience of the Google docs environment but as the as is dedicated to the doc rather than being a web based window. Features look nicer and work easier and you are not so prone to press the wrong button (especially if you have big fingers!). But all in all I was a bit disappointed in the apps. I was expecting new functionality and the ability to edit existing apps without the need to mark them for offline use. Surely there is a way to save a ghost version of the document that doesn’t take up a lot of space on the device that changes could be made to even if no internet connection can be had. I do like the function that I can create a doc or a sheet in the app without an internet connection and that when I re-establish an internet connection it is uploaded straight to my Gdrive but I don’t really think that this is enough to warrant getting the apps in the first place.
Using Google with other Apps
What I really want to share with you in this post is the work I have been doing trying to integrate Google docs with some of the other tech and apps that I have been working with. My first offering of Google filled tech comes from QR codes.
I have been working with QR codes for a couple of years now and recently started putting them up as Crosswords with “yes” and “no” questions. My post here will explain this in more detail, but the eventual idea is that the QR code is a test for a topic that the pupil can self scan and a message pops up if the QR code has been used correctly. I thought that this could go another step and tried connecting the QR code to a Google form that I had created. I shortened the URL to make it more manageable so now when the students have answered the true or false questions and completed the QR code, they scan the code and it takes them to a Google form. As I have described in previous posts the form can be pre-populated and with the help of a Script it can be set up to send out an email to the student congratulating them on completing the task. Another idea would have the students taken to a form which could have an extension task on it. Thus the students that can only manage the true or false questions can work on those but those that grasp the concepts can be rewarded with an extension activity that might include a video embedded into the form which starts to explain the next topic. Hopefully you can start to see that I am aiming this at using it with SOLO taxonomy and I think it has excellent potential for those teachers that are also flipping the learning in their classrooms.
My second offering is using Google docs within the world of augmented reality. I have been using Aurasma for this purpose but I expect there are other apps out there they will do a similar job.
A brief explanation then for those of you that have never used Aurasma. Basically, I set a picture as a trigger for a video. If the object in the picture is scanned by the app the video will play whilst the picture is still being played live on the device. This in itself has many many learning opportunities, my first thoughts this time of year turn to revision. I have started to set exam questions on past papers as the triggers for an explanation video that then pops up and instructs the pupil on how to answer that type of question. I haven’t got video’s on the questions but provide enough of a structure that then allows the students to answer it by themselves. I wanted to take this a step further and found that you could set the trigger image in Aurasma to play the video as normal but then when you clicked it it sent you through to a predetermined URL. This means that I can set a Gform up as the URL and once the students have watched the video they can then answer a few more questions on the Form making sure that they have really understood. Again, this can also be used for an extension task but I think it should be better than that. Other ways I have also though of using this same set up is for getting opinions from the student voice. I have set up a board at school for the student voice and any matters that are currently being discussed by the SV are on the board. By setting the words up as the trigger I can get the students to be taken to a Google form where they can leave their opinion on the matters. Of course this can be used to leave abusive messages but there are ways of tracking who is leaving the comments and that is normally enough to stop most of the silliness. This setup could also be used for a sign-up sheet for a school trip and again with a script running an email could be sent with attachments giving the students more details. These are just a few ideas and the potential is truly astounding.
I think what both of these options do is give the students another way of working and communicating , a way in which they are very comfortable and are using all the time. And in a school that is no longer punishing students for having mobile devices I think it is way after time that we, as teachers, start using them in a positive manner.
If you have used Google Docs in any other way please get in contact and maybe we could set up a site that shares this innovative teaching resource so that others can have the chance of empowering the students that they teach.
Please feel free to leave a comment and I will reply as soon as I can.