Switching from Microsoft word processing products to Google Applications comes with some trepidation. One of which is simply getting used to what Google Docs look like and how they work. This video will hopefully help alleviate some of that worry. The more you use Google Apps, the easier they become. And you’ll quickly see what added benefits a web-based word processor can give you along with some of the great additions Google has added.
Some of my favorites parts of Docs are the more recent updates. All of these new additions can be found in the “Tools” Menu. Here are three of my favorites:
First, the Document Outline is a great way to keep a document organized. If you turn it on, your document moves slightly to the right and on the left hand side, the document brings up a list of headers that it has interpreted as important moments in the document. It’s not always perfect right off the bat, but it will designate Heading 1 as the primary topic, and then Heading 2 will be a subheading of Heading 1 and so on. It will even recognize changes in text size or bold lettering. With long documents or research essays, this would be a great way for students to organize their writing.
Next, the Voice Typing tool is a fantastic addition for students who are slow typers or who want to catch a stream of consciousness. It’s built right in to the tools menu in Docs. Simply click “Tools” and “Voice typing”. That will bring up a movable pop-up that allows you to turn on and off the receiver. Just make sure you have a working microphone on your computer, or plug in an earbud/mic combo. It also helps to make sure that students are isolated if they’re using it so it doesn’t pick up everyone’s voices.
Finally, one of the newest integrations that Google has added to Docs is the ability to communicate easily with Google Keep (which is one of my favorite Google Tools). When you click “Keep Notepad” in the Tools menu, Docs brings up your Google Keep notes in a sidebar just to the right of your document (see image below). This will allow you to create new notes, add to current notes, and simply drag and drop notes into your document. It’s simplicity is its brilliance. In the classroom, this is a great way for students to keep research or writing ideas on the same screen as their document. They could even use Keep as a note card system during research.