Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How to Use Add-Ons in Google Drive PLUS My Top Apps and Add-Ons

In my last post, I talked about Google Apps and how to connect them to Google Drive, giving you a much more varied and powerful Drive experience. Today I'm going to highlight a few of my favorites, but first I wanted to talk about something very similar to Apps: Add-Ons. 

Add-Ons are basically just apps that enhance existing Drive apps. A lot of the time they even overlap with existing apps you might have already connected. I know all of this talk of apps inceptioned into other apps can get a little confusing, so let me show you instead.

How to Add Add-Ons to Drive
In my apps tutorial, I showed you how to add apps with the Create button in Drive. With add-ons, we're going to use them from inside a Drive Doc. This is really simple - there's already a button for add-ons within Docs (also within the other standard apps: Presentation, Spreadsheet, etc.). Just click it and choose "Get add-ons..."

From there, we get a nearly identical screen to what we got when we connected apps, allowing you to browse add-ons by popularity or category or to search for what you're already looking for.

Once you've added the add-on, it will ask for various permissions, just like when you install an app on a smartphone (note that some apps will do this the first time you use them after connecting them to Drive or launching them from the Chrome App Launcher). 

I don't really worry over the permissions much, but make sure you read them carefully.
Once you've done all this, the add-ons you've installed will show up within their relevant Drive apps under the Add-ons button.

My Top Apps and Add-Ons
I didn't put screenshots of all of my favorites because I was afraid of melting blogger's servers. Here's a list instead (note that there is some overlap between Add-Ons and Apps - in most cases, the App creates its own separate file while the Add-On inputs it into the document).

Lucidpress - a great replacement for Microsoft Publisher. Makes beautiful posters, fliers, and more.
Lucidchart - create mind-mapping charts. Great for notes-pages for students.
Movenote and PresentMe - create video presentations using slides and audio
PowToon - Similar to Movenote and PresentMe up above, only with a very cartoonish, kid-friendly interface. Great for student presentations.
Videonotes and Kaizena - add voice notes to documents. Great for giving feedback on student assignements.
Geogebra - create beautiful graphs and pictures. Excellent for creating math test problems.
WeVideo - good video editor.
Pixlr - excellent picture editor. It has become my go-to Photoshop replacement.
Notepad - puts a Notepad app inside Drive with extra features. Great for marking up HTML.
VideoPlayer and MusicPlayer - play video and audio files inside drive. Allows for streaming.

Easy.bib - adds bibliography to Google Docs with a source search and choice of MLA, APA, and Chicago Styles
Lucidchart - input mindmaps and charts
Table of Contents - uses your headings to create a table of contents, similar to how Adobe Acrobat does for PDF's.
Template Gallery - adds a huge gallery of new document templates to Docs
Open Clip Art - adds a free clip art gallery
gMath - create detailed graphs, charts, and equations into docs and spreadsheets. Similar to Geogebra, only allows you to insert them directly into documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.

There are a lot more than this, but these are the ones that I've currently tested and played around with. For a bigger and intermittently updating list, click here.

Special Thanks
I found a lot of these things (and got the whole idea for this website) by talking in person to my friend and tech-guru mentor, Amy Mayer. Follow her on Twitter @friEdTechnology or check out her blog at www.friedtechnology.com

I also found some more add-ons on a great blog by Vicki Davis. Follow her on Twitter @coolcatteacher and check out her blog at www.coolcatteacher.com.

I'm presenting a professional development on all things Google Apps for Education at Woden ISD this week and again next week, so wish me luck. Thanks and see you again soon.

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