This weekend, I was visiting friends in Maine and one of them was struggling with a PDF. This friend is a graduate student and most of her research (articles, chapters, etc.) is in PDF. Her research process has always involved printing each article and marking it up with a pen. As the research increases, so has her budget for printer ink until she has finally decided to explore paperless options. This is where I come in to the picture. She already uses Google Drive and Docs for much of her work, so it seemed logical to find a tool that fit in to that universe. We settled on Notable PDF, a Google Drive App. And it is awesome.
Over the past 5 years using Google Apps for Education at the Collaborative, I have slowly learned through experimentation and loads of frustration (my own and that of other people) that Google provides the tools you should be using to simplify your collaboration and communication. The challenge is understanding the ways in which these tools work together and how to use them effectively (i.e. as Google wants you to use them).
Take, for example, using Google Groups. For a long time, I only used Google Groups as a listserv. It is only in recent months that I have realized that Groups is a powerful tool for being proactive about sharing and communicating. In many ways, using Groups is a gift to your future self. Your future self will be grateful to your present self and couldn’t we all benefit from more kindness and gratitude?
Before I get to the full recommendations, let me tell you a story. It’s a sad story of wasted time, much confusion, and tedium.
Once upon a time, there was a team (Queen and her village) who did everything in Google Drive. They had many collaborators within their team and beyond. They built an elaborate structure of myriad folders and subfolders (castle), each shared folder and document with different permissions and individual email addresses (keys made by the royal locksmith). This worked fine until they hired a new person (Prince)…. [Read More]
Whether you are a teacher using Google Drive in your class, an administrative professional responsible for organizing Drive, or the Google Apps Administrator responsible for managing your Google domain, you know the struggle. The struggle to feel clear and in control over your (Google) domain.
I have tried many approaches to managing my Drive so I don’t feel like this. From no folders to elaborate folders and I have finally settled on what I think are the three pieces key to finding what I need when I need it:
- A consistent naming convention is your best friend,
- When it comes to folders, fewer are better, and
- Groups are the only way to share.
People (especially educators & administrators) often ask me to talk about how I use Google Drive to streamline processes. This project is an example of how Drive made a cumbersome & lengthy process, impossibly swift & efficient.
I, like you, have been anxiously awaiting the coveted golden ticket (read: Classroom invitation from Google) and it finally happened. Dreams do come true! In my fit of excitement, I decided to use it for our Level 2 Google Apps Workshop this Tuesday (join us!). That’s when I hit the first bump: