Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Drawing with Google Docs

Madame Cluck's Facebook Page
I've been exploring Google Docs. They're useful for a range of different children's learning activities. Google Docs is continually adding new features and I follow lots of people online who use them. However there seems to be plenty for me to learn to use them effectively, and my attempts to play are limited because of lack of time. In case that applies to you too, here's what I like so far about the drawing tools. (If you're already a Google Docs power user, this will bore your socks off.)
  • There are Drawing templates available for children and teens to use, just as there are templates we can use and adapt in Google Docs generally. (You might need to be signed in to Google to see these.)
  • There are multiple save options: jpg and png but also svg and pdf.
  • You can add an image to your drawing from your own computer, from a specific url, or use Google images to search for something suitable and check it's okay to use.
  • You can collaborate online - share a drawing or a doc with a friend, see their changes in real time, and even chat with them.
  • Text boxes can be tilted so they don't have to be horizontal. This was the most exciting thing of all to me as it's a quick and easy way to add angled text for words on an image. If your kids are experimenting with phoetry, this will please them. 
Children's Learning Activities

Google Docs might be a useful place for your kids to explore story creation. Older kids can use it to mind map a story or essay, while younger ones will enjoy typing up their story and adding an image from online or your own computer. There's a neat Historical Facebook template you could use as a way to represent a historical or fictional character kids are studying. (See Madame Cluck, above.) If kids are working on an assignment together that requires writing and drawing, Google Docs is a perfect way for them to work together despite physical distance.
    I love that everyone has access to Google Docs. I love that it's free. It's an excellent way to collaborate with others. And really, so much of it is intuitive. There's a tool bar with icons we recognise like backwards arrow for undo, and a menu bar with tabs for file, edit, insert etc. As usual, Google has lots of support documentation. Here's a video on Google Docs in Plain English.

    If you want to learn more, take a look at Macworld's article, Google Docs secrets: 20 power tips; two Youtube videos, Google Docs- Create a Drawing and Making Goofy in Google Docs (this is a speed-of-light tutorial - good luck! but might be just the inspiration your young artist needs) or check out the Google Docs Blog.

    Last week I wrote about Popplet, another place to create using words and images online. Google Docs has even more features and I look forward to exploring it further soon.
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