Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

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Alice Keeler

11 Tips When You’re New to Google Apps for Education

Getting Started with Google Apps
11 Tips When You’re New to Google Apps for Education

Getting Started with Google Apps

Essential Getting Started with Google Apps

Google Apps for Education (GAfE) encompasses several products. Typically this starts with a branded Gmail account, specific to your school district. If email is turned off the account sign in appears to be an email address on the schools domain, but is used only for accessing other Google products.

1. Start with Google Drive

Google Drive Logo

Google Drive is online storage. This will replace your thumb drive. Files saved in Google Drive can be accessed in the web browser or through the mobile Google Drive app.


Suggestion to make your Chrome browser home page Google Drive. Create Google Docs files in Google Drive. Locate all of your files in your Google Drive.

2. Create Google Docs

Google Docs encompasses Google Text Documents, Google Sheets spreadsheets, Google Slides presentations, Google Drawings and Google Forms. Create Google Docs straight from Google Drive. Click on the “New” button.
Google Drive New button to create Google Apps

3. No Save Button

Google Docs save automatically to Google Drive. No save button required.

4. Blue Share Button

Google Docs is a collaboration suite. By default the documents are private. Locate the blue sharing button in the upper right hand corner.
Blue Share Button

Type the email address of those you wish to give access to the document.
Type email addresses to allow collaborators

Share the Google Doc more generically by clicking on “Get shareable link” in the sharing settings. This gives view only access to the document to those on the domain (at your school.) Click on the drop down arrow to give others the ability to comment or edit the Google Doc. To give viewing or editing access outside of the domain, click on “More” at the bottom of the sharing options. Click Here for more details.
Give generic access to the Google Doc

Sharing a Document

The URL at the top of the document can be copied and shared with others as a means of distributing the document. Paste into an email or post on a website. Prior to sharing a Google Doc with the link, check the blue sharing button to ensure permissions are set. Sharing a link to a private or restricted document will show an error to the potential viewer.

5. One Version

Collaborators edit the same document. When using Google Docs there is no need to save or make multiple copies of a document. Documents saved in multiple folders are the same document, simply linked from multiple locations. This avoids version confusion.

6. Revision History

Google Docs records edits in the revision history. You are able to see what was contributed to a document when and by whom. Use the File menu in the document and choose “See revision history.”
Google Docs revision history

Revision history provides a list of edits. Click on a revision to view what the document looked like at that moment. Edits are color coded to show who made the edits. Click on “Restore this version” to roll the document back to an earlier revision.
google docs revision history click on a revision

7. Insert Comments

One of the most powerful elements of Google Docs is the ability to collaborate on documents through comments. Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drawings all allow for inserting comments. Highlight a word or portion of text to reveal the comment icon in the right margin. Click on this to insert a comment. This allows you to give students specific feedback on the exact portion of their work you are commenting.
insert a comment into a Google Doc

Commenting in a Google Doc takes feedback from being a one way note to being a conversation. Students can reply to the comment to gain clarification. This is especially powerful when utilized prior to the due date.
insert comments in a google doc

8. Apps Chooser

In Google Drive and in Gmail a 3 by 3 grid of squares can be located in the upper right. This icon is known as the apps chooser (or informally as “the waffle.”). Click on the grid to reveal additional Google Apps. This is one way to locate Google Drive; use the apps chooser from Gmail.
apps chooser


Most Google products are the product name dot google dot com. For example Google Drive is drive.google.com. Google Maps is maps.google.com. Google Books is books.google.com. Google Scholar is scholar.google.com. Google Classroom is classroom.google.com. Google Calendar is located at calendar.google.com.

It is recommended that you learn this pattern to quickly locate Google Apps. It can be quicker to type the product name and add dot google dot com to the end. Google text docs can be created at docs.google.com. Google Sheets at sheets.google.com. Google Slides can be created at slides.google.com. It is my opinion that Google Forms is the greatest thing since sliced bread, you should use this data collection tool often. Create and locate your Google Forms at forms.google.com.

A notable exception to this pattern is YouTube, which can be located at youtube.com.

9. Folder Permissions

Organize your Google Docs in Google Drive by creating folders. Use the “New” button to create a new folder. Right click on the folder to set the sharing permissions on the folder. Choose “Share” from the options. Explicitly share the folder with specific individuals by typing in their email address. Share more generically by clicking on “Get shareable link” in the sharing settings.
right click on folder in Google Drive

Docs Inherit Folder Sharing Settings

Any documents placed in the folder will automatically inherit the sharing permissions of the folder. If the folder is shared with person A, then all docs inside the folder are shared with person A. If the folder is set so that “anyone with the link can edit,” any documents in the folder are also “anyone with the link can edit.”

It is recommended you set up a folder with individuals you collaborate with frequently and share the folder with them. Open the folder in Google Drive prior to creating a Google Doc using the “New” button. This will create the document in the folder and automatically share it with collaborators.

It is also recommended that you set up a view only folder. Create a folder where the sharing settings are “anyone with the link can view.” Creating documents in this folder will ensure that the documents are visible by parents or anyone else you share the link to the document with.

10. Search Google Drive

Google Drive is a Google product so of course one of the things it does well is search. Use the search box at the top to quickly locate documents. Google Drive searches the ENTIRE document, not just the document title. The search box contains a drop down arrow to allow you to filter your search. Search for documents you own or that were edited within a certain time frame.
search and filter in Google Drive

11. Shared With Me

When opening Google Drive, notice on the left hand side is a filter for “Shared with me.” Quickly find documents others have shared with you. Note that this is a filter and not a folder. You can not organize the shared with me view. When someone indicates that they have shared a Google Doc with you, click on “Shared with me” to easily locate it.
shared with me in Google Drive

Shift Z

You will want to organize this file in your “My Drive” so it is easier to access. Single click on the file and use the keyboard shortcut SHIFT Z to ADD the file to one of your folders or “My Drive.” A file can easily live in multiple folders. Each appearance in a folder is simply a link to the document. Double click on the file in a folder to open the document.
Shift z will add a document to a folder in google drive


Like “Shared with me,” “Recent” is a filter in Google Drive. Make it your habit to go to Google Drive and immediately click on “Recent” to get back to files you were recently working on.
recent in google drive

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