All You Need Is Google Docs

Yesterday one of my colleagues told me a problem he faced during the lesson. He had prepared a Powerpoint presentation to use during his lesson. When he went to class he followed the routine; he opened his laptop, connected it to the projector and clicked on the file. Surprisingly he saw a message saying that Windows doesn’t know how to open the file. He thought someone is making a bad joke. He tried to change file extension and it didn’t work so he thought maybe if he runs Powerpoint then he could open the file within the software.

Whenever you have a problem with opening a file this is a perfect solution unless of course you have the software installed correctly. When he tried to run Powerpoint he came up with a problem. The software wasn’t running. It kept on giving an error message which he couldn’t understand. So he gave up trying because he had already lost quite amount of time and he redesigned his lesson in a different way.

He was telling me this because he was trying to point out the idea that sometimes technology can be a drawback. Although I share this idea partially I told him that his example wasn’t a proper one. He had a chance to run his Powerpoint presentation. When he heard that he said maybe I didn’t hear him saying Powerpoint didn’t work. I told him that I heard him clearly and I wasn’t talking about using Powerpoint. I was trying to say Google Docs could help him.

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As you know you can upload your files to your Google Drive account. When you upload them Google offers you two choices; you can keep them as they are (no format change) and preview by clicking on them. Other option is keeping your files in original format and creating a copy by opening them with Google Docs while converting them to Google Docs format. This can be done by right clicking on the file.

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When you click on Google Slides a second file will be created and you will be able to see contents of your Powerpoint file. The catch is if you have advanced animations and other effects in your original file you may not be able to see all of them with Google Slides. Also some fonts, tables etc. might be changed so you need to take a quick look at your document before you present it but I can tell you that differences among softwares are getting lesser everyday.

When I explained this to my friend he said he knew how to use Google Docs but at that moment he couldn’t see that it could save his lesson. As I always say using few technology tools wisely is better than using lots of tools unconsciously.

3 thoughts on “All You Need Is Google Docs

  1. Careful with this!
    Google docs are good, just not great yet.
    Classrooms commonly have limited bandwidth due to cost. This means that while simple PowerPoints could work, more interesting ones with hyperlinks and so on could become problematic, even if the link is to a webpage.
    Secondly, google docs are simple versions of utilities, often these days we require students to complete Gannt charts with Excel and interactive presentations, my experience from trying to use them is that this is outside the narrow limits of Google docs. Am I wrong? or is it true that google docs provides a very simple platform only. This could impact very quickly on engagement of students.

  2. Great story thanks,
    I think Drive (or Docs) is really great. I would be an even better idea for you colleague to drop Powerpoint and produce in Google Presentation in the first place.
    He could have solved his problem the way you describe. He could also use SkyDrive and have opened his powerpoint from the free webapp: powerpoint from Skydrive.
    And for you Tim: Drive has a lot of feaatures although not as sofisticated as some of the ones you mention. If Gant is a prerequisite there is an Google app: Gantr which the students could use. Also Google has an Excell app: Spreadsheet – so I firmly believe that you could easily go on using only Drive and some of the apps connected with Drive

  3. @Ove: Interesting take. Lets spend even more time reworking lesson plans and figuring out yet another new app over a completed plan and gross familiarity with an existing product.

    @Tim: You bring up a very valid concern with bandwidth which was what brought me here in the first place. The thought of even a 1000 students manipulating files in a cloud based service at the same time makes me shudder.

    The K-12 Google and Office 365 cloud just isn’t quite there yet for a lot of us which is a shame.

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