Why should I use Google Docs and Google Drive?

Why should I use Google Docs and Google Drive?


We meet with all kinds of users in the IRC and I always appreciate how honest people can be about their confusion with technology. In a hushed tone, they will admit to me, “I know my colleagues like Google Docs, but I just don’t get it. The sharing seems nice, but I can never find anything. It’s just a mess.”

I can relate…because that’s how I felt when I first started using Google Docs. I knew that I basically like Google Docs, but Google Drive was another story. Where’s the Google Doc I’m looking for? Here’s some of the simple lessons that I learned in my journey towards understanding Google Drive.

Google Docs and Google Drive Aren’t the Same Thing

Sometimes people use Docs and Drive interchangeably, but they’re really two different things. Google Drive is a file storage system. A Google Doc is a word processing file that you store in your Google Drive.

Google Drive is Your File Storage System

Google Drive is comprised of files and folders. The files in Drive can either be from Google Apps like Docs, Sheets, or Slides or they can be files from programs on your computer like Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoints, PDFs, pictures, and videos. Much like the file storage system on your computer, you can organize your files into folders.

The Power of Google Drive is in the Sharing and Access

There’s nothing really wrong with storing your files on your computer or in your network drive, but the ability to share your files with anyone and have access to your files anywhere is what creates Google Drive fans. You can share a file with anyone that has an email address (or even just create a link to a document that anyone can access). And you can get to your files wherever you have internet access…including your home computer, tablet, and smart phone.

I Don’t Want to Mess Anything Up For Someone Else

I will admit it…I had sharing anxiety when I started with Google Drive. I had all these individual files that were shared with me that I wanted to put in folders. But what if I mess that up for someone else. Here’s the secret…if someone shares and individual file with, you can put it wherever you want and it won’t mess any one up. It won’t get that person permission to all the files in that folder. They will just have permission to view that document no matter where you store it. Folders are a different story. If you give someone permission to a folder, anything in the folder (including other folders within the main folder) will be shared. This means that moving anything from the folder will mess things up if the document itself isn’t shared with you. However, Google is great about warning you before cutting off permission accidentally.

Please note: If you don’t have sharing anxiety, then this may not make sense to you…in which case, live your life free of the anxiety that technology over-thinkers like I have.

But I Can’t Find Anything

There are some tricks for finding things in your Google Drive. First, I find two of the links on the menu really helpful: Shared with me and Recent. Shared with me is going to list all of the files and folders that have been shared with me and I can sort them by the date they were shared and who shared them. This can be really helpful is I don’t remember the document, but remember it was last fall and it was Tim who shared it with me. Recent is my favorite shortcut because it will list the documents I’ve recently worked on. This is so easy when I’m working on something and then close the browser…it takes me right where I left off.

The Search function is also a wonderful way to find a what you need. It will not only search the title of the item, but it will search the files themselves. So if I don’t remember the name of a file, but I remember a phrase or a unique word from it…I can search for it that way. You can also click the little triangle on the right side of the search box for even more options. For example, if I know I’m looking for a PDF, I can select PDF as type and it will only produce options that are…you guessed it…PDFs.

Link to a File and Update it in One Place

If you have a file that you distribute to lots of place, consider making it a Google Doc so that you only have to update it in one place. I created a help document to be used by all MBA courses. I could have created a Word Document or a PDF and then sent the file to each MBA instructor each time it was updated. Instead, I created it as a Google Doc and gave the link to all the MBA instructors. When there are changes, I just update the Google Doc and users will automatically see my changes in all those MBA classes. I’ve seen instructors use this for their syllabus and course schedule, department policies, and advising materials.


These are just some of the reasons why I like Google Drive and Google Docs. If you have questions about anything here or anything beyond what I’ve mentioned, feel free to contact me or the other folks in the IRC or ITS for help.

Students having trouble with technology?

Students having trouble with technology?

Just because our students are digital natives doesn’t mean that they know everything about technology. One great place for students to get helpful tutorials is at GCFlearnfree.org. The Goodwill Community Foundation (yes, that Goodwill) offers user friendly help on everything from Google Apps to Microsoft Office to Twitter. It’s completely free to use and self-paced so that your students can learn more on their own time.

Photo Credit: Designed by Freepik

Accommodating Student’s Needs with Quizzes in Canvas

Accommodating Student’s Needs with Quizzes in Canvas


Accommodating a student’s needs with quizzes does not have to be a burden in Canvas. Whether your student needs more time, additional attempts, or needs to take the quiz in the KLC, Canvas has you covered:

Adding Additional Times & Attempts:

Once your quiz is published, you can go to the quiz information page and find the Moderate Quizzes option in the right sidebar. Just find the students name and click the pencil to edit that students time limit and attempts. Learn more with this Canvas guide called “Once I publish a timed quiz, how can I give my students extra time?”.

Setting Up a Different Quiz Start Time for an Individual Student

Some students need to take their quiz in the Kissinger Learning Center to help alleviate test anxiety and provide a distraction free test area. You can give these students a different start and end time for their quizzes by using the +Add button under the quiz dates. Learn more with this Canvas guide called “How do I assign a quiz to an individual student or course section?”.

Timer Anxiety

Some students feel anxiety when they see the timer for a timed quiz counting down. To help alleviate this stress, Canvas has a “hide” link in the timer area of the quiz that will…surprise…hide the timer from view. Students are able to click “show” at any time to reveal the remaining time. This does not prevent the warning message that time is running out.

First Day of Class Icebreakers

First Day of Class Icebreakers

The first day of class is a filled with nervous anticipation for me. I know that this is just one in a series of days, but making a good first impression can set your course in the right direction. One of the first things I like to tackle is creating a community of learners. I want them to be comfortable with one another and that starts by meeting each other. I do this by always starting with some type of icebreaker in the class.

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Resources for New Faculty (and You Returning Faculty, Too)

Resources for New Faculty (and You Returning Faculty, Too)

Welcome, New Faculty! Information Technology Services (ITS) provides computer support for AU students, faculty, and staff. We’d like to share some information that will help you use technology resources at AU (because we all now that trying to remember this after an orientation session is nearly impossible):

ITS Contact Information: You can reach ITS in the following ways: search the ITS Knowledge Base, email us at its@anderson.edu, stop by Decker 54, or call 765-641-4300.

ITS Ticket Tracking System: ITS has a ticket tracking system which is found at http://helpdesk.anderson.edu. If you need assistance from ITS, click on the Submit a request link in the upper right corner. You will be prompted to login and provide us information on your request. You will be able to check back to see the status of your request and to communicate any additional information necessary for us to complete your request.

ITS Knowledge Base: Part of the ticket tracking system is the ITS Knowledge Base at http://helpdesk.anderson.edu. Found in this Knowledge Base is helpful information you need to navigate and use AU electronic resources. Articles are continually being developed and added. If you cannot find what you are looking for or you would like to suggest an article, let us know at its@anderson.edu.

MyAU: This portal at https://myau.anderson.edu is your link to Anderson University electronic resources. The portal is web based so there is no software to install on your computer. Links are available to many of the resources mentioned in this document as well as resources like AccessAU and Canvas. You can also enable single sign on. For more information on MyAU, search for “MyAU” in the ITS Knowledge Base.

Network password: Your network account allows you to access resources such as MyAU, AccessAU, and Canvas. If you are having problems logging into these resources or if you want to proactively change your network password, please visit the MyAU portal at https://myau.anderson.edu to reset your network password. Network passwords expire every 6 months.

Email address and password: Your @anderson.edu email address is your official campus email.  Your AU email account is separate from your network account so changing your network password has no effect on your AU email password. Visit the ITS Knowledge Base for instructions on changing your Email password.

Use your AU ID card to login to Copier: Your AU ID card can be associated with your network username and password so all you have to do to copy is present your ID card to the ID card scanner on the copier. The first time you present the card near the scanner, you will be prompted to login with your network username and password. Subsequent presentations of the ID card to the scanner will automatically log you in.

Emergency Notification: Rave Mobile Safety is an emergency notification system available to members of the Anderson University community. To participate, go to http://alert.anderson.edu, login with your network username and password, then enter your contact information.

AccessAU: AccessAU is the web-enabled version of the AU administrative records system. We have two entry points into AccessAU. In AccessAU Academic, instructors can view their class schedules and rosters, find information about students, enter grades, advise students, monitor degree progress, and much more. In AccessAU HR, employees can find information about payroll, compensation, and benefits. AccessAU can be found in MyAU or directly at http://accessau.anderson.edu/.

Instructional Resource Center: ITS has a small staff dedicated to supporting faculty and instruction called the Instructional Resource Center. The IRC is located right next to the ITS Helpdesk in Decker 45 and has a small training center where we often work with faculty. The staff includes Tim States (Assistant Director in ITS and jack of all trades), Jodie Reminder (Instructional Designer and online education lover), and Matt Parker (Classroom Technology Support and technology tinkerer). Please let us know if you you have questions about Canvas, classroom technology, online education, or need any other help with instructional project.

Classroom Technology Support: Most classrooms on campus are equipped with technology and we have students and full-time staff available to assist faculty during daytime class sessions If you need help with a classroom, please call 765-641-4300 and let us know that you are having an issue with the technology in your classroom. Be sure to give us your name, the classroom, a general description of the problem, and let us know if the problem is preventing you from teaching. Our techs will quietly work to resolve the problem as quickly as possible, but can certainly wait until after class so as to not disturb your class.

Instructional Equipment Checkout: The Instructional Resource Center has equipment available for instructional use. This includes video cameras, classroom response sets, portable document cameras, projectors and screens, and video/web conferencing systems. Requests can be made by emailing its@anderson.edu or putting in a ticket at http://helpdesk.anderson.edu.

Canvas: Canvas is our learning management system on campus. This is our second year using the system and faculty report that it is a very user-friendly technology. AccessAU can be found in MyAU or directly at http://canvas.anderson.edu/. To get a course into Canvas, you will request it in AccessAU. Tim States and Jodie Reminder are available to provide you with training on using Canvas and suggestions on how to best use the system. Additional Canvas help can be found by clicking the Help icon in the Canvas menu and selecting Search the Canvas Guides.

Instructional Design Services: Whether you’re teaching a class online or need help reworking your course, Jodie Reminder is available to help you with instructional design. We take a systematic approach to problems in the classroom and find a solution that works best for you. Of particular interest, Jodie helps a lot of departments and instructors with online teaching so don’t despair if you’re being asked to teach online. She is here to help you out!

Google Apps for Education: AU is a Google Apps for Education School and that means you have unlimited storage. We recommend using Google Drive for sharing files with students and for storing large items like video files. The IRC tries to promote good ways of using Google apps for instructional and productivity purposes. If you have questions on how to do something or if you’re looking for suggestions, Tim States loves to work with faculty on Google Apps.

Graphic: Designed by Freepik

Countdown to Classes

Countdown to Classes

Each school year gives us a fresh start and a chance to try something new. The IRC wants to inspire you with some different ways to use campus technology tools. Here’s a what we have lined up for our Countdown to Classes:

4 Weeks to Go (Week of August 1st)

This Year I’m Going to Do More with Canvas

Recap of Introduction to Canvas Workshop

Recap of Advanced Canvas Workshop

3 Weeks to Go (Week of August 8th)

This Year I’m Going to Be More Productive

Recap of 12 Tips for Being More Productive with Google Apps Workshop

2 Weeks to Go (Week of August 15th)

This Year I’m Going to Do More With Video

Recap of Videoconferencing: Google Hangouts and Canvas Conferences Workshop

Recap of Recording Videos with Screencast-o-Matic Workshop

1 Week to Go (Week of August 22nd)

This Year I’m Going to Understand  the Technology in my Classroom

Special One-on-One Sessions to Get to Know Your Classrooms

Can’t make the listed time? Please remember that the IRC is available to work with you on whatever teaching and technology project you might have. Feel free to give us a call or send an email.

Graphic Credits: Banner

In Case You Missed It: Recording Videos with Screencast-o-Matic Workshop

In Case You Missed It: Recording Videos with Screencast-o-Matic Workshop


In case you missed the Recording Videos with Screencast-o-Matic Workshop (or even if  you were there), here’s an outline of what we covered and some links to additional information:

Tim shared:

  • Why you might want to create a video for class
  • Tips for creating a video students will watch
  • How to install Screencast-o-Matic
  • What you can do using Screencast-o-Matic, and
  • How to embed videos from Google Drive into Canvas.

For more information, check out this handy tip sheet from Tim on Screencasting 101. You can contact the IRC for the password to install Screencast-o-matic on your machine.

As always, if you have questions or would like to sit down and learn more, feel free to reach out to us via email (its@anderson.edu) or stop by the IRC office in Decker 45.