Tech in the Classroom: Google Drive

Google, Google Docs, Technology Review

This is part of a series of reviews of websites, platforms, and social media sites. Some are useful for teachers in a SMART classroom (with a teacher-station computer, internet connection, and projector). Others lend themselves more to a lab where each student has her own computer. Hopefully these can help us communicate with our students, present information effectively, and encourage collaboration, feedback, and active participation. See our previous review of WordPress, Facebook, and PB Works.

Today, I’m reviewing features of Google Drive (formerly Google Docs).  Here’s my Google Drive page:

(If you’re new to Google Drive, here are some helpful website tutorials to get you started: Google Drive Help from Google; Free Google Drive Tutorial from GCF Learn Free; YouTube Tutorial in 4 parts.)

Collaboration Features


Much like the Review feature in Microsoft Word, you can use Google Drive to leave comments on papers. They’ll be stamped with the date, time, and your name. I find it much easier to type feedback. The one drawback is the temptation to write too much and not stick to minimal marking.
Here’s Michelle leaving comments on one of my documents:


You can share a single document or a folder with one or more individuals. Here’s how they’ve worked for me in the past:

  • Students create a document for drafting an assignment and share it with me and their classmates.
  • They upload quotations and research, if necessary
  • Document changes, updates, and draft versions are saved in Google Drive
  • For peer review, students can simply access each others’ papers and leave comments or make changes
  • Each assignment gets its own folder. Students upload their final papers to the folder, I comment on them, then send them a grade over email.


Not to be confused with Google Chat or Hangouts, this feature allows you to chat with anyone who has shared access to a particular document.


When 2 or more people with access to a document are signed in, they can compose simultaneously. Their additions and deletions will appear in different colors, and you can watch others change a document in real time.

When you’re in an open document, you will see if others with access to the document are ready to chat. Click on the circled icon above to begin a chat.


  • No more lost flash drives
  • Gmail accounts are free
  • Comments and Chats–real time feedback
  • Saved versions of drafts to see your writing process
  • Collaboration


  • If the internet is down, you’re out of luck
  • Everyone needs to sign up for a Gmail account in addition to their school account
  • No individual privacy settings–you need to assign grades elsewhere (Blackboard, via email, etc.)
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