It’s no secret that Microsoft Word is the corporate giant of word processing software, and it’s easy to see why. With a built-in spellcheck and thesaurus, endless fonts, and a whole host of other functions, there are few things that Word cannot do.
Google Docs is almost exactly the same as Word, and can do almost everything Microsoft can do. It too has its own spell check function and an endless variety of fonts to pick from. Just like Word, you can format the line spacing, columns and bullet points, as well as accessibility to headers and page numbers. The only difference is that Google Drive is completely online. You don’t have to bother with downloading anything, or even saving every ten minutes; Docs does it all automatically.
As it’s linked up to your Google account, you can access Docs anywhere at anytime from any device; laptops and tablets to mobile phones. Google Docs eliminates that awkward process of emailing a Word document to yourself when the need arises. All you have to do is sign into your account and you have access to everything you could possibly need.
Something that sets Docs apart is the ability to share one document with multiple people; all they need is a Google account and then they can view, edit and make suggestions on your document. So why aren’t university lecturers making use of this? Surely this would be a great way for lecturers to offer feedback for students, especially when deadlines are looming and the mad rush to book a tutorial begins.
This is not only a good idea for lecturers, but for students too. When a course calls for peer feedback, an excellent way to achieve this would be through Google Docs. The students giving feedback would be able to see what’s already been commented on or flagged up, which would eliminate repetition within feedback. Not to mention, students can reply to each other’s comments as well.
And if you tend to use Excel or PowerPoint instead, Google Drive has its own version of those too; Sheets and Slides. These too do roughly the same thing as the Office versions.
The best thing about Google Drive, however, is that it’s free, unlike Microsoft Office Home which is costs £79.99 a year. It’s important to note that Microsoft has a free Office for students, but this promptly ends when you throw away that graduation cap.
That’s not to say that it isn’t without its faults. Since everything is online, a power cut or even a technical problem sees the end of Drive, at least for a little while. This can be a pain if you’ve only saved that essay in one place, and it can be a panic if you have a deadline the next day and are unable to access the site. However, this is something that hardly ever happens and, when it does, the site is usually back up and running within the hour.
It’s strange that, even though the university has adopted the use of Google in many ways such as the gmail account and the calendar, Google Drive is not more widely used. With all the functions that Office possesses that benefit students, it’s a wonder why university lecturers and students are still using Word, Excel and PowerPoint. We live in a digital age where everything is simply more convenient online.
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