A Must-Have Guide To Google Drive

google drive logoWe’re chomping at the bit to get our grimy little hands on the new Google Drive. We wrote about it in our March issue of the Edudemic Magazine, featured it a couple weeks ago, and now want to start figuring out how the basically-real tool will help teachers around the planet. After all, that’s what Edudemic is all about! We throw caution to the wind and just start trying to figure out fun and useful ways to use technology in the classroom. Who cares if that technology isn’t available yet?

What Is Google Drive?

First, let’s take a look at what Google Drive is. I’m channeling my inner Bill Clinton now and definining ‘is’ to mean what we expect Google Drive to be based on rumors. Take the feature set with a grain of salt.

According to Forbes:

“Google Drive is expected to be a cloud-based storage offering with sync capabilities and will likely be integrated with Google Docs, Google Apps and may eventually be shipped with every Android phone, to boost usage. It will initially be rolled out as a web service, and on popular platforms like Windows, Mac, Android and iOS. Google may also offer a Google Drive API that developers can use to create apps that work with the service. Users will be charged for additional data beyond the free 5 GB limit.”

According to ZDNet:

“The service will offer 5GBs of free storage; it will be integrated with Linux, Mac, and Windows file management systems in the same way Dropbox is; it will be made available on the week of April 23rd; and to use it you’ll need to have a Google Account.”

Why Should I Use It?

While it’s meant to take on Dropbox and Box, it’s a tool that is really (and obviously) directed at frequent Google apps users. If you use Google Docs, Maps, Calendar, Android devices, and now Google Play, then you’ll likely want to try Google Drive when it rolls out. I have a very strong feeling in my old bones that Google Drive will simply be a way to store all your ‘stuff’ from these various apps in one place. Bought a movie on Google Play? Got a few documents need from Google Docs? What about all your contacts from your Android smartphone? It should all (likely) be in your Google Drive.

Judging by the recent rumors, it would seem that Google Drive is going to be targeting Dropbox. I love Dropbox and will continue to use it religiously… but Google Drive may have a similar user experience and even more robust feature set. So who knows what cloud storage service I’ll be using a year (or even a month) from now.

How Should I Use It In Education?*

Since this tool is still in pre-release rumor stage, these tips may not (obviously) be super helpful come launch time.

1. Use Google Docs to create custom media (drawings, written text, etc) and then have everyone in your class save their work to a single ‘class Google Drive’ where both teachers and students can view the submitted work. Having everything in one place would be terrific.

2. Have students create custom maps in Google Maps to illustrate places they’d like to travel, where they’ve been, etc. They can even have a project where they create a custom map that details things about their own city or town. Then save each map to Google Drive so others can quickly view and interact with the maps!

3. Have a few Android phones or tablets in your classroom? Purchase items in the Google Play online store and save items to a classroom Google Drive. While it’ll be just 5GB of space, that’s more than enough to store hundreds of books that you purchased and want to share around the class.

4. In a utopian world, Google Drive could store all your Gmail attachments, Google Books, and Blogger multimedia. While this is likely not going to happen for at least the launch of Google Drive, it could be a powerful way to streamline your (and your students’) workflow when creating digital content.

Google Drive Alternatives

Not a fan of Google stuff? You can always try out Apple’s iCloud for wireless syncing of all your iOS devices… or Dropbox for a desktop-friendly storage solution that even works on smartphones… or SugarSync to get a Dropbox-y way to store and share files across platforms… or Box.com to get more space (I got 20GB during a promotion, pretty snazzy stuff) but have to pay extra to use the desktop folder tool….the list goes on and on.

So where will Google Drive fit in with all this? Likely as a cloud storage solution that makes using your Google apps a bit easier. As a daily Google apps user, this has me pretty excited. Icon image source: The Tech Check

The Good News

Remember, when companies like Google and Apple throw their hat in the ring of any industry, we all win. Competition (typically) lowers prices, raises quality, and cuts out a lot of the lesser companies that can’t measure up. So let’s hope we get some killer promotion deals on services other than Google Drive next week. I’m looking at you, Dropbox!