How I Use It
Since all of the students at school have Google accounts because we are a Google Apps for Education school, they all have access to Google Drive. One handy feature of Google Drive is that the documents can be created using Google Drive or uploaded from Microsoft Office on the student’s personal device. The documents (once uploaded) can be shared with other students and with their teachers. This allows a teacher to review the documents, make comments, etc. without ever printing, thereby reducing the amount of paper used. Also, since multiple students can open and update documents at the same time, group work is easily achieved. Google Drive maintains a history of the updates allowing the users to see who made changes and allowing the users to revert to an old copy if needed. In addition, Google Drive is available for any platform (and has great mobile apps) so the students can access the documents from any of their personal devices.
As for Sheets (Google version of Microsoft Excel) and Slides (Google version of Microsoft PowerPoint), Google’s products are not as robust as Microsoft’s. While creation and document sharing are very useful, these two products have some idiosyncrasies. Sheets lacks the equation ability that Excel has so it is really only helpful for list forming and low end calculations which does not benefit science/engineering students. Slides also is great for creation, document sharing, and formatting, but when exporting back to PowerPoint or downloading for a non-cloud version, it tends to eliminate formatting, thus being more of a nuisance than a help.
The Google Docs feature of Google Drive is invaluable to students. With its ability to share documents, to have multiple individuals updating documents at the same time, and to track changes, it is awesome for group projects. While Sheets and Slides are still good for sharing and allowing updating by multiple users, their limited capabilities make them less desirable than the Microsoft versions. Google is quickly catching up though, and I suspect sometime in the near future, these products will be equally as good.