I love the collaborative aspect of Google Drive, but with a classroom of varying numbers and age levels of students and 10 iPads I’ve had to learn to be a bit creative when it comes to using Google activities with my students. The release of specific apps for iOS such as Slides and Sheets is still problematic when you are not in a 1:1 environment since a login is required to access the files. And some of the features that look great on other devices won’t work on iPads in a browser – even in Chrome. Here are a few “workarounds” I’ve developed that some of you might also find useful:
- Docs are an easy way to share website links with classes. For example, I created a Google Doc called, “Websites for Class.” I made it public, opened it on each iPad, and sent the shortcut to the iPad home screen. Now I can change the links any time, and the students can click on them without needing to type in URL’s. (Sure, you can use a bookmarking site, Google Classroom, or even apps like Chirp to share links, but this simple solution has streamlined the process immensely.) If you think you are going to want to keep those links for future use, make a copy before you change to new links and save the copy with the title of whatever theme the old links shared (“Optical Illusion Sites,” for example).
- Create a “generic” G-mail account to use Sheets. The new Sheets are currently not editable on an iPad browser. I learned this the hard way. My students use Sheets for checking in at centers (using the above method, but with a spreadsheet) but that suddenly stopped working. The files work great in the Sheets app, but I didn’t want to have each student log in since multiple students share iPads – or have my own account permanently on the iPads. So, I made a “generic” account. This G-mail account is used for the sole purpose of sharing documents on my iPads. All of the iPads are already logged into that account, so the students do not have to do anything but open the app and find the appropriate Sheet.
- Make a Google Site to share Forms that you change frequently. This is a bit more advanced. You can also use a Google Site to share links that you change frequently (but the Doc method described above takes a lot less steps!). Once you make a free Google Site, you can just click on the html button and embed the code for your form. Be sure to click inside the Google Gadget area to get the settings button at the bottom and add a scroll bar. Otherwise, your students may only be able to see part of the form on the iPad. Add your Google Site to the Home Screen of every iPad and you can then share whatever you want the students to access with a tap on the icon.
Do any of you have Google App iPad hacks? Please share!