If you are like most academics, you are familiar with Google’s Gmail. You may also have a Google calendar you share with family members, perhaps used a shared Google Doc with a colleague, or even set up Google Drive as a backup tool on your computer.
Here, we’re going to talk about how Google Apps at UCI is a bit different than a personal Google account — and why it matters to you as an academic.
First, an introduction to Google Apps for Education, which is free for all UCI affiliates.
In this graphic, you can see that Apps includes the tools we normally associate with Microsoft Office: documents, spreadsheets, and presentations (yellow box). These files live online, and you can store an unlimited number of them. You also have an unlimited amount of cloud storage called Drive (green box), where you can add any other files you have – videos, data, old student records. Storage in Drive is as safe as any other cloud storage system (which means not guaranteed safe, but pretty darn safe). Lastly, the tools and files created with Apps and stored in Drive can be shared with others (blue box). Apps files (docs, sheets, etc) can have multiple authors, and the system tracks the changes made by each author.
As you can easily imagine, the ability to share files and work on them together is an invaluable tool for an academic. Plus, Google Apps is platform neutral. The system works on Windows or Mac machines, and on iOS or Android mobile devices.
Now, let’s think a bit about how Google Apps might be useful for teaching as well.
Google docs is word processing software. The primary values for the classroom are:
- Class documents (syllabi, reading lists, lecture schedules) can be shared (without editing privileges) with students via a link, while still allowing you to make changes. The version students see is always the most up-to-date version.
- Students can submit a google doc to you, and you can make feedback comments on the document. This triggers an email back to the student, who can then reply in the document and make appropriate changes (which are visible to you in the revision history).
- A student group can create a single document between them. When each student is logged in, the revision history indicates the amount of writing completed by each student. Multiple students can work on the document simultaneously, and each can see what the others are writing.
- There is a chat window that sits next to the document, so students can discuss the writing as they write.
Like all spreadsheets, google sheets organizes and manipulates numbers or text. Some examples:
- Student groups in a physics lab can pool their results on a single shared sheet to increase their sample size
- An instructor in a stats class can share data at the beginning of class, allowing students to work on the data set in class on their computers
- TAs designing an anatomy lab practical can share their stations and questions with the instructor
Are you interested in trying out Google Apps for UCI?
We recommend that you conduct UCI business using a UCI account rather than your personal Google account. In order to do this, you will need to activate your UCI version of Apps, and then be sure you are signed in as your UCI self rather than your personal Google self.
To activate your account, go to www.google.uci.edu. You will have to log in with your UCInetID to authenticate. Then, pick a new password to go with your UCI email login.
Once you have activated, sign in to your new account. Open a blank Google page: www.google.com. Notice the icons in the upper right:
If you aren’t logged in, click the “Sign In” button.
If the icons show your personal Google logged in, click the image and choose “Add account.” You can switch between accounts by clicking the icon again.
You should now see a welcome screen to Google Apps!
You have Gmail as part of the app set, but your UCI emails will continue to be sent to your current location. If you want to change your email delivery, go here.