Google Docs just keeps getting better! For those of you who have used Google Docs, I’m sure you already appreciate its ability to allow real-time collaboration in online word processing documents, presentations and spreadsheets. Used in educational settings, Google Docs can be a tremendous tool to help groups of students work together on projects and to allow them to edit the work of their peers.
One of the challenges with Google Docs, however, is that there is no real clip art or image library. I know this may seem like a minor feature, but for many educators, this is a deal breaker. If students are using Microsoft Office applications, for instance, they have access to a full library of copyright-free images to support their work. If they are developing a document, they can easily incorporate images without searching the web or worrying about determining the copyright status of an image they’ve obtained. Until recently, Google Docs did not offer the same functionality. To incorporate an image, a student needed to upload one of their own or search through Google Images to find one, which could expose students to undesirable material. Google Docs has alleviated these challenges by incorporating stock photos into their Office suite. Now, students can search through an online library to find appropriate images that relate to their topic and simply click to include them. It really couldn’t be any easier. To access the stock photography features, however, be sure that you’re using the new version of Google Docs. That’s one of the best parts of using a service like Google Docs. New features are constantly being added without the need to purchase anything. In the current economic climate that many schools face, free educational tools that offer a wide range of services are critical.