Google Apps – a wide selection of web applications to choose from

October 31st, 2012 by Monika Jankowska-Pacyna

Google Applications, or Google Apps, is a family of free online tools provided by Google.

It is a continuously growing group of Web applications with similar functionality to traditional office suites, and includes Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google +, Google Groups, Google Sites and more.

Many of these applications are available for free to anyone with a personal Gmail account and can be a great help to literacy students developing their Ontario Adult Literacy Curriculum Framework (OALCF) competencies.

Students can learn how to use email (Use Digital Technology), set up and manage calendars (Manage Learning and Understand and Use Numbers), develop documents (Communicate Ideas and Information), connect with others via groups (Engage with Others), find and watch movies (Find and Use Information) and so much more!

There is a premier option called Google Apps for Business ($50 per user per year) that might be beneficial for small literacy programs and organizations. Google Apps for Education is free, combines features from the Standard and Premier editions, and can be a great help managing students’ classroom accounts. Did you know that there is even Google for Government option?

Some of the better known Google Apps include:

1. Gmail
Free email service from Google that coordinates with other Google Apps. In addition to allowing users to send, receive and sort their email, the @gmail.com email address and password acts as a login for other Google Apps.

2. Calendar

Google Calendar allows you to:

3. Drive (also known as Docs)

With Google Drive you can:

  • create and share your work online (documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, forms)
  • upload and download files to and from your desktop
  • edit and view your documents from any computer or smart phone
  • pick who can see and edit your documents
  • access your files from any computer, as your documents are stored securely online

Watch this video to see how Google Docs are used in a classroom setting, and explore our Featured Technology piece on Google Forms.

4. Google+
A social networking tool integrated with Gmail that is similar to Facebook. Hangouts are a feature of Google+ that allows users to host free online video chats and meetings for up to 10 users.

Visit Hey Google: Look at what Google + has done for our Hearing Impaired Learners! to learn how Good Learning Anywhere is using Google+ with their literacy students.

5. Google Groups
Allows users to join and create various discussion groups. At AlphaPlus, we have set up an AlphaPlus Tech Tuesdays group so conversation about our Tech Tuesdays topics can continue online.

6. Google Sites
Helps users create free websites using simple templates and hosts those websites for free. Google Sites offers users:

  • single-click page creation
  • a customizable look and feel
  • dozens of pre-built templates
  • settings for accessing and sharing information

Check out the following literacy websites, created using Google Sites:

There are even more Google Apps available:

  • Google Reader – read and manage RSS feeds
  • Chrome – search for content in a Google-developed browser
  • AdWord – place ads on Google advertising network
  • AdSense – place ads on your website and earn revenue
  • Analytics – track your site visits and marketing effectiveness
  • < li>Checkout – make online purchases

  • Moderators –  gather and moderate questions from a group
  • Translate – view content and web pages originally in other languages
  • Maps – view maps and get directions
  • Blogger – simple blogging tools
  • Places – puts your business on Google maps
  • Google news – search thousands of news stories
  • YouTube – watch, upload and share videos
  • Picasa – manage photos and share them online
  • Fusion tables – visualize and create data tables
  • Custom search – create customized search for your community
  • Voice – tools for inexpensive calling
  • Code – documentation for developing Google tools  

In United States, it’s possible to purchase Chromebooks, low-cost laptops that allow users to work with and access Google Apps and services (web only; no other programs can be installed).

Check out More Google Applications to learn about these tools and others you may find helpful.

To explore what Google Apps have to offer, check out the notes from our Tech Tuesdays meeting about Google Apps, or visit the Google Apps Learning Center for videos, tutorials and product overviews.


Our next Tech Tuesdays webinar, rescheduled to November 13, 2012 at 3 pm ET, will focus on Google Apps and will be delivered in French but you can explore our notes from Google Apps revisited face-to-face meeting and webinar session delivered last October.