21 February 2016

Google Drive Add-ons

Google Drive is perhaps the most utilitarian example of Web 2.0 tools that has been developed to date.  Sure, there are now many applications that perform the same function (Dropbox and Evernote, among others). However, Google Drive has recently developed add-ons that make collaboration and teacher feedback a snap.  There are a few dozen apps that you can now download right into the tool bar of Google Drive.  So far, I have tried a few, some more helpful than others.  Below is my description and review of some of the new Google Drive add-ons (rated from 1-10, with 1 being not at all useful and 10 being extremely helpful):

1. Consistency Checker: Consistency checker searches for possible inconsistencies in your document. It looks for possible errors in:

  • Hyphenation
  • Numbers in sentences
  • Spelling variations
  • Common typos
  • Abbreviations in two forms
So far, this add-on seems extremely helpful, especially for students completing research papers.  I tried it on a few documents and got no feedback in regards to inconsistencies. This either means that I am extremely consistent or the parameters on this tool are not as thorough as one might hope for.  

Final Rating: 6/10  (Not a home run but still worth giving another chance)

2. EasyBib: Perfect for those who are, shall we say, citation challenged (aren't we all?)  Click on this add-on and a bar opens on the right of the screen.  Simply copy and paste a book title, journal title, or webpage and voila, you have your citation.  This add-on also lets you add a bibliography directly to the document.  You can select MLA, APA, or Chicago Style as well.  

Final Rating: 10/10 Extremely helpful for anyone who is writing a paper with citations.

3. Kaizena: This add-on allows you to provide both written and audio feedback to a student's document.  Also, you can insert a link into the text to direct a student to a specific source for further research.  Although this app took a while to figure out, once you get the gist, you will want to add audio feedback to every student document!! One downside is the fact that this add-on directs you away from the Google Drive. However, both sites are compatible and when you finish with your audio or written feedback, you upload a link to the student who created the document which directs them to the Kaizena site to view the commentary. The link can be found in the comments button next to the share button on the top right corner of Google Drive.  Although using two sites can be an inconvenience, this technology is still well worth the quick download.  I only hope that in the future, they find a way to incorporate Kaizena directly into Google Drive, which could be accomplished if Google buys Kaizena or creates their own option to add audio feedback.

Final Rating: 8/10 (Could be a 10/10 if they make it a bit more user friendly)

4. Lucidchart: Begun as a way for businesses to easily create charts and diagrams for presentations, Lucidchart has found an application in education.  This add-on connects your Google Drive account with your Lucidchart account.  The main issue that I have found with Lucidchart is the fact that it's not user friendly at all.  It takes way too much time to design an effective chart or diagram and even then, its not as crisp as a chart template that you can find with a quick Google search or that you could create in PowerPoint.  Also, the free version limits the amount of characters you can use to create the chart, which severely limits the amount of creativity permitted. 

Final Rating: 1/10 (I have actually disconnected Lucidchart from Google Drives since I will not be using it)

5. Thesaurus:  Sounds like a great idea in theory, however this add-on is basically useless.  It will give you a definition of the highlighted word and perhaps three synonyms for that word.  I would recommend keeping an additional tab open to Thesaurus.com.  This webpage is much more useful than the thesaurus offered as a Google Drive add-on.

Final Rating: 1/10

6. Track Changes: This add-on sounded interesting so I added it.  However, this app only lets you see what changes have been made in a document and not the time when it was edited (a must need for teachers who are trying to determine who did the bulk of the work).  This could already have been accomplished with the revision history option included with Google Drive (simply click on the tab "All changes saved in Drive" at the top-center of the Google Drive document page to see the revision history with highlighted edits).

Final Rating: 1/10

Final Assessment: While I applaud Google Drive for trying to make their platform more easy to use, they still fall short in the usefulness and quantity of their add-ons.  With the exception of Kaizena and EasyBib, the rest of the add-ons fell flat.  Hopefully, they will continue to add and improve tools to Google Drive that 1. Make life easier for the user and 2. Are actually useful and not simply token attempts to stand out from the increasing field of competitors.

Overall Rating: 6/10 (Hoping for an increase in the amount and quality of add-ons in the near future)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...