How to Use Google Drive to Teach Coding in the Classroom

Coding in the classroom is becoming an increasingly popular thing to do. The Hour of Code helped raise awareness for that, and has brought to light a whole slew of new coding opportunities for teachers and students. I was similarly inspired, and have committed myself to learning HTML and CSS in my spare time this year. However, regardless of what code you decide to learn, or teach, you will need a code editor with which to compile your code. For me, there are few that have more benefits than the free Editey website editor apps.

editey

Editey apps can be installed inside Google Drive. Simply click Create > Connect More Apps, and search for Editey. Once you have installed the apps you want, all you need to do is hit the big red Create button to get started on some code. All your files are then stored inside Drive and can be accessed anywhere, at any time, on a Mac, PC or Chromebook. Better still, any files you create can be shared with other users and worked on in real time. This means students can collaborate with each other on their code, and share it with their teacher when they are done.

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Setting Default Apps on the iPad with Google

If, like me, you are a Google Apps user who loves to use their iPad, you may have longed for the ability to have your favorite Google services set as the default apps on your iPad. Well, you can, to a degree, and here’s how.

DriveGoogle+ on iOSgmailGooglechrome

Today I saw a post on Google+ by Chris Betcher, a Google Certified Teacher and Trainer, that reminded me how to do just that. It’s simple really, and there is no need for workarounds or even jailbreaking your device, because Google has done all the hard work for you.

Whether you realize it or not, Google has updated its iOS apps so that they can talk to each other. For instance, it you click on an email link while inside Chrome, the iPad will automatically open the Gmail instead of Apple’s Mail app. The same applies for links that lead to a file in Drive. Clicking the link inside of Gmail will open the file in the Drive app, instead of Safari. Found an interesting link in Google+?  Tap the share arrow, and you can open it in Chrome.

Setting Default Apps on the iPad

Apple doesn’t allow you to set default apps on the iPad, so how is this possible? Well, it is all down to a bit of clever engineering from Google. If you navigate to the Settings in Gmail or Chrome, you will find a menu option called Google Apps. Clicking that, allows you to choose a Google iOS app to open something that may normally be opened by Safari or the Mail app.

So, all that is left to do is to wean yourself off some of Apple’s default apps. Mobile Safari is a great browser, and the Mail app is very solid too. However, if you find yourself in these apps when you would rather be in Google’s apps, all you need to do is shift your focus to using the Chrome and Gmail apps instead.

Using Google on the iPad can sometimes be a bit of an ordeal, but in case you haven’t tried it, the experience is very much the same on Google’s Android tablets. You can set default apps on Android, but if you use Chrome to access your Google Drive you will still be forced into the mobile view and warned that you are using an incompatible browser when in the Desktop view. Still, progress has been made, and Google’s commitment to mobile devices is clear, even if the support is not coming quite as fast as some of us might like it to! 🙂

For more information on setting Google’s apps as default apps on the iPad, watch Chris Betcher’s video below, and check out this follow-up post on how to set Gmail as the default mail app on iOS.

What’s New for Schools with the Latest Google Drive Update for iOS?

Google has updated its iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch version of Google Drive with a clean new interface and a few new features ahead of the impending introduction of the new iOS 7 operating system for Apple’s mobile devices. So, what’s new and what’s still to come? Let’s find out.

Google Drive iPad App Update

What’s new for educators?

Visually, users will notice an immediate change in the layout and feel of the new Google Drive app. It now mimics many of the features you find on the Android app and you can view your files and folders as a list or a grid. The details panel is all new, and includes an image preview of your file at the top. From this panel, you can now copy the link to any document so that you can paste it into another document, app or email. Finally, there is an update for Google Presentation files. You still cannot create or edit these files, but there is a new viewer complete with speaker notes, a slide sorter view, and a true full screen mode.

Google Drive for iOS

What teachers still need

We badly need  support for tables. Why has this taken so long? Android users have it, but iOS users can’t view or edit tables and this can be a major inconvenience. I’d also love to see more sharing options. Why can’t we share documents as “anyone with the link”? Better still, why can’t Google Apps for Education users have domain sharing options to share files with everyone in their organization? And what about Google Presentations or Google Forms? Can we expect to see those added any time soon?

Conclusion

Overall, I love the update. I like the cleaner look, the ability to copy links and the nice new viewer for Presentations, but Google Apps for Education users will continue to seek further updates to increase efficiency with Drive on the iPad in the classroom. Let’s hope that comes sooner, rather than later. In the meantime, be sure to check out my guide to a Paperless iPad Classroom with the Google Drive app. It has been updated to include screenshots from the latest version of the Drive app.