Friday, March 13, 2015

Personalizing Productivity

I've recently been discussing with several people throughout the district the (perceived) shortcomings of the productivity software offered by Google. If you've used Google Docs, Sheets, etc., you have probably noticed that these programs offer the bare minimum when it comes to features. If you're a veteran Microsoft Office user, this might make using these programs a bit difficult. I'd like to offer a couple of thoughts on this subject.

First, as teachers who are using these programs with our students, are we teaching the programor are we teaching the concept? I happen to think that students should possess word processing skills and be able to prepare a spreadsheet to record and calculate data via formulas, functions, charts, and graphs. Is it necessary to have a specific program to teach these skills? If we are focusing on the skills, does it really matter what program we are using? Please participate in this1-question poll to weigh in on these questions!

Secondly, many of the features are present, you just have to know where to find them! About a year ago, Google introduced a feature within Google Docs and Sheets called "Add-Ons." What we find are little feature chunks that users can simply "add on" to the basic Google programs. This system allows users to truly customize the Google Drive experience with only the features that they want. To illustrate how "Add-Ons" work, check out this video where I increase my number of available fonts in Google Sheets from six to 35, all with an "Add-On!" 

Do you have favorite "Add-Ons" that you'd like to share with others in our district? Hit me up on Twitter@Justin_Bandi #GAFE and share!