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Google Crash Course

Why use Google Tools?

Google Sites, Maps, Drive, Calendar, Picasa Web Albums, YouTube-- and more, can be used by individuals and small organizations for free. They are a powerful set of tools for students and educators.

By thinking strategically about which tool is best for which job, you can greatly increase the functionality of your online projects, increase the amount of storage you have available, and create maps and websites that open quickly and work smoothly. For example, by storing your photos in Picasaweb and using the url to add images to a Google Site you don't have to worry about using up your 100 Mb storage limit. 

This crash course is meant to demonstrate ways to integrate the various Google Apps into a workshop. At the end of the tutorials you will have learned how to collaborate using Google Drive apps, embed various apps into a Google Site, create and embed Contact Us and Registration Forms into a Google Site, create and embed a Google Groups Discussion Forum and a Google Calendar, and you will have learned how to add some color and design to a Google Site by creating a custom banner, badge or button using Google Drawing.

Google Forms

Forms are a great way to organize responses from workshop participants, the public, and students in a classroom setting. Forms can be embedded in a Google Site, or sent via GMail. Spreadsheet Forms are housed in Google Drive (see below), and one really nice feature is that the Form is linked to a response Spreadsheet so that all of the answers are organized in rows and columns.

Google Drawing

Google Drawing is housed in Google Drive. You can use Google Drawing to create digital images to add to your Sites (clickable buttons, banners), Maps (custom map icons, banners for icon balloons), and a whole host of uses. Since it is free, it can substitute for a simplified version of Adobe Illustrator.

Here is a simple example that uses shapes and line tools to create a sunflower:

This tutorial was created by Nasbah Ben

Google Drive

Google Drive is a good way to store files and it provides us with a suite of powerful tools. We can organize and share Folders, create Presentations, Documents, Spreadsheets, Drawings...and the apps are amazing for collaboration. But Google Drive is not an adequate substitute for a Google Site and it does not replace Picasa or YouTube, so although it is very powerful it does not take care of all of our needs. For example, when you upload photos to Google Drive the images are stored as separate files, and you cannot create a slideshow to embed in your Google Site-- that's still the job of Picasa or Google+ Photos. Each of the Google Tools has its place, and our goal today is to see how to get the most out of using them in concert.

Google Groups Discussion Forum

Discussion Forums are a great way to organize exchanges between students in a class (you can even moderate posts). There are many advantages to using a forum instead of email-- all of the threads are organized and archived, members can control the frequency with which they receive messages, and you don't have to worry about people losing important messages.

Example of a Discussion Forum used to moderate student responses during class.

Managing Discussion Forum

Google Groups Crash Course

Google Calendar

How to create and manage Google Calendars to coordinate schedules. Insert Calendar into Google Site.

Picasa and Google+ Web Albums

You can't just rely on Google+ and Drive for managing your photos online, because they don't have all the functionality of Picasa. As mentioned above, Google Drive does not allow you to bulk upload jpeg files and turn them into embeddable slideshows (Google Drive-Presentations requires you to create each slide individually, which is tedious for creating photo slideshows). As Picasa gets integrated into G+ Photos, more and more tools are available within the G+ platform (for example, Google Sites just changed the way you create slideshows to incorporate G+), however, the photo mapping function from Picasa has not (currently) been added to G+, so its still worth using Picasa.

Google Sites

Google Sites are a great way to pull it all together. You can easily integrate many different Google Apps to create a collaborative workspace for your workshop participants or your colleagues. Google Sites are also a great tool for creating student or teacher e-portfolios and class websites. For examples of Google Sites used in K-12 programs and for collaborative projects with KACEE click here

Google Sites Crash Course