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Google Drive and Google Docs: Useful Tools to Help You Succeed in School

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By Matthew Loux
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice, American Public University

There are many resources in the online environment to help you succeed in school. The tools I like to use include Google Drive and Google Docs. These tools work well for creating and storing documents, and they are also useful for work that requires collaboration with your fellow students.

Google Drive: Ideal for Writing and Retrieving Documents

Google Drive is my cloud storage of choice. It offers up to 15 gigabytes of data for free, with the option to purchase additional storage. Also, I access Google Drive from all my devices and it will automatically update as I enter my information. This automatic update feature prevents me from losing important data.

I use Google Drive to create folders for all of my classes, labeling each folder by file name, class number and date that I take the course. In each folder, I create weekly subfolders, which contain course materials and scholarly articles that pertain to the week’s assignment.

After that work is finished, I download the syllabus for each course in the appropriate class folder. This organizational system gives me easy access to see each week’s requirements from any of my devices.

Google Drive Is Useful for Collaboration between Students

Some classes require me to work as part of a team with other students. Google Drive is ideal for collaborating on team projects. You can track changes and add comments in documents such as Google Docs, Google Sheets or Google Slides. Also, you can limit viewing of and working on a project to only selected participants.

Google Drive also lets me create Google Forms for surveys or questionnaires. After I create a form, I can send it to the team’s participants to fill out.

Google Docs: Handy for Different Writing Assignments 

Google Docs is my main writing tool and is similar to Microsoft Word. It allows me to easily format my work to meet proper school guidelines and automatically runs spelling and grammar checks.

Writing Forum Posts with Google Docs

Once a class begins, I copy each week’s discussion questions and place them in the corresponding subfolder. After I have all of the discussion questions in a Google Doc, I begin to research the answers.

When I come across references pertaining to a discussion question, I create a properly cited reference, so I know exactly where the information came from. After that, I enter my response to each question to create my forum post for that week. Once the forum post is completed, I review the text and check to make sure the word count meets the instructor’s requirements for a forum post.

I always type my response to a query in a Google discussion document. That ensures that my response meets proper grammar, spelling and word count requirements. Using Google Docs makes it easy to copy and paste my answer to a discussion question into the forum.

Once I submit a forum post, I highlight it in the Google document as a reminder that I have posted it. This serves as a double-check to help me meet or exceed the minimum weekly number of forum posts (at least three posts) required by my instructor.

Creating Papers with Google Docs

Some courses require more than one paper, so I create an individual project number for each paper. I find the assignment instructions and copy them into the Google Doc abstract page, so I know exactly what is required for each assignment.

I find my references, enter them in the reference page and write the paper. When I am satisfied that I covered all the required elements, I check the formatting, proofread my work and submit it to the instructor in the online classroom.

Google Drive and Google Docs Provide Organization and 24/7 Access

Both Google Drive and Google Docs offer convenience, considerable storage and easy access from computers and mobile devices. I have found both of these online tools to be extremely useful in the online classroom.

Learn more about degree programs at American Public University.

About the Author

Matthew Loux has been in law enforcement for more than 20 years and has a background in fraud and criminal investigation, as well as hospital, school and network security. Matt has researched and studied law enforcement and security best practices for the past 10 years.

Susan Hoffman is a Managing Editor at APU Edge, whose articles have appeared in multiple publications. Susan is known for her expertise in blogging, social media, SEO, and content analytics, and she is also a book reviewer for Military History magazine. She has a B.A. cum laude in English from James Madison University and an undergraduate certificate in electronic commerce from American Public University.

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