How I Use It
Students with special needs, especially those in inclusive general education settings or subject-area courses, often struggle with organization and information retention. I use Google Drive to help students keep digital notes, access classroom files, and to collaborate on class assignments with one another. Using Google Drive, the teacher can create a class folder and share it with students in the class. Students can add the class folder to their My Drive folder and then be able to access class notes, documents, and assignments easily all in one place. When students want to take notes for class, they can capture their notes right into a Google Document that travels with them anywhere they have their device. They can take pictures of what they are doing in class and add those photos into their notes as well. The Google Drive folder system easily lets students create subfolders that they can use for their classes to store photos, videos, or audio recordings of class lectures or lessons. Without needing to download any software to use Google Drive, students can have access to a basic word processor, spreadsheets, or a presentation creation tool for free on the web. This makes student work completion outside of class much more accessible. Students can begin typing a paper in class and continue working on it after school or outside of class without ever having to transfer a file via email or flash drive. The folder system also helps students organize their classes with assignments, notes, and important media related to class. Overall, I have used Google Drive to keep my students organized, connected, and get them creating for class more easily.
For my students, the ability to manipulate the fonts within a Google Document, color code the folders, and add media to your My Drive folders makes it a great tool for students with learning disabilities. The multiple layers of organization that Google Drive provides gives students reliable ways to access their files and search their notes whenever and where ever they want. Students with visual impairments can change the font size on a document or zoom in/out as needed to make text reading more accessible to them. On a mobile device, the ability to highlight text in a Google Document and use the mobile device's accessibility features to have the device speak the text gives students, who have a need for having text read aloud to them, access to the content regardless of their reading level. The tool itself is actually fairly simple. It lets you organize and share files/folders, but also lets multiple users work on a document from anywhere any time. Just using Google Drive is not enough to help students learn, it's more about what a teacher does with Google Drive that will make it as great as it can be. Since Google Drive isn't really a tool geared toward classroom learning, it will ultimately depend on the teacher to show students how to get the most out of it.