Student Google Docs
Google Docs is a powerful word processing tool that many schools have adopted. As it’s similar to Microsoft Word and other word processing tools, most of its features are intuitive to use.
Recently, Google released a suite of “Add-ons.” These Google Doc specific extensions have allowed educators to unleash more powerful features within Google Docs and Sheets. To find and apply Add-ons, simply open a document and select “Add-ons” from the menu. You can then browse the suite of available tools and apply those that you want. Some of my favorite Add-ons are EasyBib (for creating bibliographies), Google Translate, and Kaizena (for leaving Voice Comments). You can also find third party apps such as Lucid Charts to create diagrams and mind-maps that you then directly drop into your document. More Add-ons are added daily.
2. Research Tools
Google will allow you to do research right within the document! With the Research window pane, you can perform a basic Google search, search images, access Google Scholar, find quotes, and look up words in the dictionary. You can even search by usage rights (key when teaching students about copyright and licensing). When you put content from the research pane into your document, it will even include the citation with a footnote at the bottom of your page in the format that you choose (MLA, Chicago, etc). It is a great tool for academics.
3. Insert Special Characters
Google Docs has a robust library of special characters, accented letters, and different alphabets. You can use the “Insert Special Characters” feature while you type. Simply go to “Insert” and then “Special Characters” (right next to the Ω symbol). You can browse symbols by alphabet, purpose (math, technical, copyright), and more. Their library is vast, and they are updating it constantly. If you need to insert a mathematical formula, check out Insert → Equation to access easy tools for creating sophisticated mathematical formulas.
4. Email as Attachment
If you want to share your Google Doc with someone who doesn’t have a Google account, then you can do this with the “email as attachment” feature. Go to File → Email as Attachment. This will bring up a window that will allow you to select the format in which you would like to send your document (PDF, Word, etc) as well as a space for you to write a message. The document will come from your email address jus tas if you sent it from GMail or Outlook.
5. Share & Collaborate
One of the most powerful features of Google Docs is that you can share and collaborate on documents with others. Think about all the times where you work on something at home and then email it to yourself at school or put it on a thumb drive. How about the challenge of students who “forgot their essays” or couldn’t print their homework? Not only does Drive solve this, but it also opens up possibilities for real time collaboration and feedback.
Sharing with individuals is relatively easy. Click the blue “Share” button in the top right corner and input the email addresses for those you want to collaborate with (add a message if you would like), select if you want them to be able to “edit,” “comment,” or “view” and click send! If you give someone editing privileges, then you can collaborate with them on a document in real time (up to 50 people can edit a document at once)! Another unique feature about Google Docs is that users do not need an account to see what you are sharing. There are two ways to share, first by sharing with a gmail account and second with a link. Either way collaborators will have the ability to edit, comment, and/or view.
However, in addition to completing many of the functions of a traditional word processor, Google Docs provides even more capabilities that can be invaluable to educators. Here was five tricks that can make your life easier with Google Docs.
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