Monday, April 7, 2014

Useful Features in Google Drive that Everyone Should be Using

Google Drive is a powerful productivity suite with huge potential in education. Google Drive empowers users with the necessary tools to do everything from store documents to create presentations. Besides the basic features of Google Drive, there are lots of tips and tricks you can introduce to your students to make their Google Drive experience even more productive. This article will introduce you to just a few of the useful features in Google Drive that you and your students should be using.

Research feature

While composing a paper in Google Docs, students can conduct research on any highlighted word or phrase without having to change tabs or open a new window. To use the research feature, highlight the word or phrase that you want to research and right click on it then select "research". A window pane will open on the right-hand sidebar with the search results of your query.

Search for scholarly articles and images:

In addition to doing a web search for a query, you can also search for images, scholarly articles, and quotes related to the word or phrase that you highlighted.


Instead of emailing documents back and forth, they can be shared by typing in the email addresses of the people you wish to collaborate with and giving them editing permission. A link to the shared document will be emailed to them by Google. All collaborators can also see the shared document listed in their Google Drive. Collaborating on a shared document ensures that everyone is working on the same document since it allows multiple people to be in the same document at the same time to make edits.

Brainstorming and Mind-mapping:

The drawing tools featured in Google Docs are perfect for drawing shapes, arrows, text, and importing images to build a visual map for any task. By sharing the document with others, it can also become a team collaboration tool for brainstorming and idea development sessions. The revision history uses colors to highlight and track changes to the Google Doc which makes it easy to see what each person has contributed to the big picture.


Using the comment feature provided by Google Docs, students and instructors can leave feedback on other people's documents. They can also include audio feedback. The student first must share their document with their collaborators and give them permission to edit. To add a comment, right click on the line where you want your comment to appear and click on "comment".

Spell Checker:

Students can correct their spelling and check for errors in Google Docs by clicking on "Tools" on the menu list and then select "spelling" and a pop-up window will display the correct spelling of that word. Google Docs also underlines misspelled words in red as they are typed. To correct the spelling, right click on the word and a pop-up menu will appear with a list of correct spelling options. Click on any word from the menu and the misspelled word will be replaced with the correct word.


There is an embedded dictionary within Google Docs which makes it easy for students to check the definition of a word by highlighting the word and after right-clicking, choose "define". Or you can click on the "Tools" menu and choose "Define".

Equation Editor:

Math and science teachers and students can now use Google Docs to add equations to a document with having to go through an overly complicated process. To access the equation editor, select the "Insert" drop-down menu, and click on "Equations". A pop-up entry box appears where you can enter your formula and/or equation. All the mathematical symbols are grouped in five separate drop-down boxes. A preview box below the data entry field displays what the equation will look like on the page. Once the equation is inserted onto the page, the text editor treats it as one whole unit which can be dragged anywhere within your document. Note: the equation editor is for note-taking only - it does not perform computations.


In addition to text, a wide variety of multimedia materials can be inserted into documents such as web links, images, tables, footnotes, videos, bookmarks, a table of contents, headers and more. To insert, click on the "Insert" menu and then choose the type of media.

Saving in Other Formats:

Google Docs can be downloaded and saved in other formats including: PDF, Microsoft Word, Plain Text, or Rich Text Format. To choose other formats, click on the File menu and hover your mouse over "Download as" and the list of options will appear. Click on the option you wish to use and a new document will be created in that format and saved to your Google Drive.


You can invite others to view a presentation you have made at the same time that you are presenting it by sharing the link to the presentation with them. Students can embed a link to their presentation in their portfolio or resume' by sharing their presentation with anyone who has the link and then embedding the shared link.

Create Surveys Using Google Forms:

Students and Instructors can use Google Forms to create surveys to be used for research, project evaluation, self assessment, instant response during a lecture or presentation, anonymous surveys, story creation and collaboration, and much more. For more ideas on using Google Forms view the slideshow at 80 Interesting Ways to Use Google Forms in the Classroom.

For More Information:

9 Things Every Student Should Be Able to Do With Google Drive. (March 8, 2014). Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.

6 Steps to Add Voice Comments to Google Docs. Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.

100 Ways to Use Google Drive in the Classroom. (Feb. 7, 2014). TeachThought.

80 Interesting Ways to Use Google Forms in the Classroom. (April 30, 2013). TeachTought.

52 Tips and Tricks for Google Docs in the Classroom. (Nov. 16, 2012). TeachThought.