A bit more than a year ago, as I was slowly fumbling my way through my last session of Cégep, I came across Dropbox, a file storage and sharing service which helped me greatly in the completion of my last team projects. I immediately started to use this program to share all types of files, or simply to make them easily accessible from any computer. For me, Dropbox slowly evolved from being a school resource to being an everyday tool; I even got the other members of my band to start using Dropbox so as to share recordings and documents. However, one of them soon proposed that we start using Google Drive instead. He did not have Microsoft Office on his computer, and Google Drive has its own native documents, so that made sharing much easier for all of us. Since then, I have moved a few of my things from my Dropbox account to my Google Drive account and must admit that it is much more complete and efficient. The few reviews I have read also consider Google Drive as very good, Kat Orphanides claiming it is “the best free sync service”. Here are a few reasons why teachers and people in general should pay special attention to this new web service.
As I mentioned earlier, Google Drive has its own native documents, which means it is not dependant on other software. This is a great way to avoid incompatibilities between documents created on different computers. It can be accessed from computers using any operating system, although it cannot be installed on any computer; from what I read in Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols’ article, it cannot be installed with Linux. This is however only a slight inconvenience, as your documents can still be accessed online.
As opposed to Dropbox, Google Drive allows many users to work on the same document simultaneously and to see each other’s actions in real-time. This is very useful, as it avoids the problems that can be caused when two users work on different copies of the same document on Dropbox. Having experienced it, I know that these modifications are made almost instantaneously.
Google Drive offers 5 GB of free space, which is more than Dropbox’s offer (2 GB). Although iCloud offers 5 GB and Microsoft’s Skydrive offers 7 GB, these two have the disadvantage of being linked to a specific operating system (respectively Mac and Windows).
Many people are afraid of Google’s policies, which grant the company a lot of rights on uploaded material. However, as Zach Whittaker writes in his article, you always keep intellectual property on what you upload. You must simply be aware that Google can do anything they want with the information you put on your Drive.
Google Drive can be a very useful tool in classrooms. The most straightforward way to use it is of course for a teacher to share documents and notes with his students. An article by Wesley Dean that I found even suggests that students could submit papers to their teachers through Google Drive; any modification that is made after handout date will be shown in the document’s Revision History. Another way to use Google Drive in classrooms is to get students to work on it. Thus, they can accomplish team tasks or projects without having to meet outside of school. Another article pushes this idea even further, mentioning that this makes interschool projects much easier.
In conclusion, Google Drive is a very easy to use and handy tool which, in my opinion, should be used much more in schools as well as outside of them.