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Redefining the (digital) Classroom

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Best in class for Your Class: Google Docs on the iPad vs. Apple's iWorks Apps

3/8/13 Post Update: A new app came out - Appser for Google Docs. It seems to be the most full-features Google Docs app around... as of now. There seem to be a few bugs, but hopefully nothing an app update can't solve. My students have enjoyed experimenting with it... especially using Google Drawings and Spreadsheets on an iPad. Also - it's Free! Check it out!

9/10/12 Post Update: The new update for the iOS Google Drive app allows for real-time editing of Google Docs on your iPad! Hooray! See this page for more information. 
Another option is to use the Google Chrome Browser app for iOS and access your google Doc in desktop mode. This solution offers the most functionality of Google Docs. Neither of these options are viable for Google spreadsheets (though the Chrome workaround supports creating Google Forms). 

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Many thanks to Greg Michie, a colleague who brought Office2HD and QuickOffice Pro HD  to my attention. These are two apps that allow you to access and edit Google Docs on your iPad in a way I've never been able to before. I've used GoDocs in the past, but have never had great success with this app (the interface was awkward).

Office2HD and QuickOffice have a much cleaner interface; in fact using them feel much like using Apple's Pages, Keynote and Numbers - but you're editing a Google Doc, Presentation or Spreadsheet.

I spent some time playing with each and comparing them to Apple's productivity iWorks Suite (Pages, Keynote and Numbers).

My essential question as I explored these apps was: Would it be worth it for my kids to use one of these apps to do all word processing/presentations/spreadsheet work on a Google Doc or should I have them work through Pages/Keynote/Numbers? 

Below are my observations. Please add any insights you have in the comments section below.

Office2HD - $3.99 in Volume Purchase Program for 20+ copies
Pros:
  • Work Flow: Immediately syncs to Google Docs upon "save", so students can "turn in" their work much easier than with Apple's iWorks apps (for a suggestion on how to turn in work with Pages/Keynote/Numbers, see this previous post about the Showbie app)
  • Organization: files shown first by folder and then by recently updated/created
  • More functionality than QuickOffice: 
    • Word Processor (compare to Word/Pages): Track Changes, Insert Pictures, Change opacity in pictures, add border in pictures
    • Spreadsheet (compare to Excel/Numbers): Greater options for formulas/math functions

Cons:
  • Not all the features translate easily to Google Docs. So if your student creates a document with a picture behind text, or with a border, these features will not show up when you open it in Google Docs.
  • Still not as many functions as Apple iWorks apps:
    • Spreadsheet (compare to Excel/Numbers) doesn't allow you to create tables/charts and you can't insert media
    • Word Processor (compare to Word/Pages): Can't insert video, fewer media options and editing options, fewer fonts
    • Presentation (compare to PowerPoint/Keynote): fewer transitions, can't insert video, can't insert tables/charts


QuickOffice Pro HD - $9.99 in Volume Purchase Program for 20+ copies
Pros:
  • Work Flow: Immediately syncs to Google Docs upon "save", so students can "turn in" their work much easier than with Apple's iWorks apps (for a suggestion on how to turn in work with Pages/Keynote/Numbers, see this previous post about the Showbie app)
  • Easier to use than Office2HD; cleaner interface than Office2HD (buttons more clear, my students had an easier time learning how to use it)
  • Recently acquired by Google (read more about it here); so one may predict that this app may (1) drop in price, (2) increase in functionality and (3) become more naturally tied into Google Docs

Cons:
  • Lack of functionality as compared to both Office2HD and Apple iWorks apps:
    • Spreadsheet (compare to Excel/Numbers) doesn't allow you to create tables/charts and you can't insert media
    • Word Processor (compare to Word/Pages): Can't insert any media at all, few font options
    • Presentation (compare to PowerPoint/Keynote): fewer transitions, can't insert video, can't insert tables/charts


7 comments:

  1. This might be a not-so-smart question, but I'm assuming that students will each need their own google account to sync with google docs? Or were you having them all use the same google account?

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    1. All questions are good questions! Yes, each kid would have their own Google account. Lucky for you: CPS has gone Google, so your 5th graders have accounts!

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  2. So what is the answer to your essential question?

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  3. Do all these apps work if students do not have Internet access? I was leaning towards Apple Works because my students could use even if they are not logged onto the Internet but would love a cheaper option!

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  4. I guess these days most of the kids have access to internet. But the issue of choice would be based on their mentors. I personally use CollateBox http://www.collatebox.com/ when it comes to maintaining table of data. u guys try this one too..

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  5. I want to use google docs on the iPad to edit students work but can't figure out if there is a control/alt/mish way to insert comments.

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    1. You can comment using the desktop view in Google Chrome, but there isn't a quick shortcut like when you use a computer. :(

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