Google Drive empowers teachers as they use Google Docs to provide real time feedback. It also helps students engage in discourse via Google Moderator, and provides project participants a platform for brainstorming remotely on Google Hangouts. But Google Drive’s power doesn’t lie solely in its own features. In fact, it is Drive’s integration with third party apps that really empower student collaboration. In this post, we’ll explore 5 creative ways to use integrated apps for group projects.
One of the biggest problems students encounter in completing group projects is staying organized. With multiple people responsible for completing different tasks, it is hard to see work as it is delivered. It is also difficult to keep track of project deadlines, especially benchmark dates students set for themselves to keep on pace. While students can easily create organized folders on Google Drive to be shared with the group, this doesn’t solve the problem of tracking the pace of work, and if one student is particularly disorganized, they won’t necessarily place items in the right place.
Enter Trello, an app commonly used in the workplace to power group work. With Trello, students can create multiple boards to cover every aspect of project work. This can be as simple as, “To Do, Doing, Done,” or as specific as, “Research, Brainstorming, Artwork, Writing, Final Presentation.”
For a glimpse into how Trello works, take a look at the screenshot below:
In the top tab, students can easily add other members to the board so that they can edit it too. Labels are provided for easy organization, as is a task checklist. Students can assign a separate due date for the board itself and for separate tasks. But perhaps most useful of all, students can attach project work directly from Google Drive.
For more tips on making the most of Trello, we highly recommend the video below:
For students who are looking to create a video for their group project, WeVideo is an easy to use platform for creating and editing movies. While it does function as a standalone site, it is also a Chrome extension app, and footage can be imported directly from Google Drive. Unlike other video editors, WeVideo has an intuitive user interface and can be directly integrated with social media apps for easy sharing. And because footage is stored either on Google Drive or on the WeVideo website, multiple students can edit video at one time, so students can begin a project together in the library and finish work in their separate living rooms at home.
Another nice feature: WeVideo allows users to choose an editing setting that suits their proficiency. Options range from a simplistic storyboard editor with instant themes like “Noir” or “Classic,” to highly advanced editing tools. It is easy to add captions, sync footage with a soundtrack and edit clips just by dragging and clicking. For a more in-depth guide on how to use WeVideo with Google Drive, we highly recommend the below tutorial:
Mindmeister is a simple mind mapping tool — perfect for brainstorming those initial group project ideas.
For students who think visually, mind mapping is stimulating and generative on its own. But again, it is this tool’s integration with Google Drive that makes it a no-brainer for group projects. Once this app extension is installed, students can launch a new mind map from within Drive itself. Though they’ll work on the Mindmeister platform, the map will also be stored on Drive and will be regularly synced (as long as Google Drive Sync is enabled). This means the map can be edited collaboratively during a Google Hangout brainstorming session, and that any student who missed the meeting can add their own ideas further down the road. Students can also add attachments into the mind map from Google Drive, and maps can be imported and exported both individually and in bulk between the MapMeister and Google Drive servers.
Faxing may seem like a relic of days gone by — and it mostly is, except when students are working with primary sources recorded on that ancient technology we call paper. From genealogy projects that have students working with old family letters to history projects that have students leafing through 1940s issues of Life magazine, there are many potential sources of paper that students will want to track and organize digitally.
With HelloFax, students can fax these documents to themselves or to group members and organize them easily in Google Drive folders. Files can also be integrated through Drive into a project organizer like Trello. And in the rare event the need arises, students can also fax those papers back to a waiting fax machine, old school style. For an in-depth tutorial, check out the video below:
Why should students pay for an expensive graphing calculator when they’ve got this popular online tool, available via its own site and through the Chrome store? The Desmos calculator helps students easily plot complex graphs, storing the results in Google Drive. And of course, it’s that Drive storage that makes collaborative math projects so easy. With a click of a button, students can share their work, whether they’d like their partners to edit the graph or they’re trying to explain a key issue over Google Hangouts. Functions can be dyed different colors, and there are numerous settings for labels and settings.
Math teacher Kristen Eckhoff provides an excellent tutorial here:
Google Drive is a centralized hub for student projects. Used the right way, it provides easy storage, even easier sharing, and access to the integrated applications that make collaborative projects possible.