15 Best Google Drive Add-Ons for Education

Google Drive has enabled Google Add Ons and there are some that you and your students will want to enable right away. Others may appeal more to professional developers or those who work remotely .

15 Best Google Drive Add Ons for Education with Logos

How To Enable Add Ons for Google Drive

Here’s a tutorial on enabling add ons. Start with this and then look to see which ones will suit your needs.

And Some Suggested Add Ons From Google

Add-On #1: EasyBib

You can insert citations directly into Google Documents directly within the Document using EasyBib. MLA, APA and Chicago Style are available. The EasyBib Add On for Google Drive is one of the first you should enable if you are a writing teacher.

 Add-On #2: Mindmeister

Mindmeister lets you take bulleted lists and convert it into a mindmap for a graphical depiction. This would be a fascinating way to convert a table of contents or outline for a paper into something easier to read. I’d really like it to go the other way and let students create a mind map and convert to a traditional outline, it is a very cool tool that will be useful for education. The Mindmeister Google Drive add-on gives a powerful punch to organizing your writing.

Add-On #3: Track Changes

Track Changes is an incredible functionality win for Google Drive as it is one that publishers or formal publications require. You can now add it into Google Drive meaning you can really publish a book out of Google Drive where you track and edit changes for each other like in Microsoft Word.

One interesting note: At the end of the video it says “Track Changes Basic is Available Today” which implies to me that upgraded or add-ons may be available for purchase in the future as perhaps a “freemium model” for some of these add-ons may be the direction this is heading. (Freemium is where you get it for free – like Evernote or One Note – but you pay for enhancements or premium features.)

Add-On #4: Table of Contents

Google Drive Table of Contents Add On

This Table of Contents add on lets you have a floating table of contents on the right that is always there. This will help you move quickly through the document.

Yes, Google Drive can insert a Table of Contents but it is placed inside the document. This add-on puts it in the sidebar where it is extremely useful. We use Google Docs to create the scripts and plans for our online presentations  and this is now a LIFESAVER making the document much easier to navigate and move around. Remember that for it to work, you have to make things as Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.

 Add-On #5. Thesaurus

Thesaurus Google Add On

The thesaurus will look up words to show on the right. While this add-on isn’t as useful as the right click thesaurus in Microsoft Word, it is a start.

Add a thesaurus into Google Drive. While it isn’t as useful as Microsoft Word’s right click feature (and it is a tad slow) — it will likely improve with time. If students are writing papers, it is a very useful feature.

Add-On #6: Template Gallery

Google Drive Template Gallery Add On

If you want additional templates than those that come with Google Drive, this is a great add in, especially for those who create documents a lot.

If you miss the large template gallery in Microsoft Office, this add-on template gallery is a start with many useful form letters, spreadsheets, and pre-formatted mailers.

Add-On #7: Texthelp Study Skills Highlighting Tools

Special Ed Add On Google Drive

This Read and Write Text Help Add in is free to try for 30 days and has many features for Special needs and ELL (English Language Learners) with text to speech and other tools built right in.

If you have special needs students (don’t we all?) and are using Google Apps for education, Texthelp Read & Write is a must test. Google Chrome gives you a free 30 day trial inside their store.

Note that this also lets you mark up KES files which are for special needs and visually impaired. ePub (for ebooks) and many other formats are available.

If you’re sharing notes, this can be useful, although it should be pointed out that you can highlight without this tool, this certainly makes it much easier than the highlight feature that is built in and requires several clicks to activate. Additionally, it includes: read aloud, text prediction, vocabulary building tools, and many other features helpful for helping students write. The trial is free, but this is one you’ll have to pay for to keep. There’s also an iPad version. They’ve created a nice playlist about their product I’ve been embedded above and recommend it for special needs and ELL (English Language Learners).

Add-On #8: Workflows

Although this is probably considered more a business app, I can see a million uses for this in schools from approval of purchase orders to even signing off on finished student work for newspapers. You could also have peer reviewers sign off on work and track it that way as well. If you need a way to convince administrators that Google Apps can save time, this add-on may just do it.

Add-On #9: Uber Conference Calls

Voice Conversations Inside Google Docs. I could actually picture a school use for this as well. Could you picture having a folder for student work and you share the document with parents, etc. and then have a voice call to go over the work? It is so hard for parents to get off work and once you sit down to talk, it is easy to drag it on. What if you had short 10 minute calls and they could be connected during their lunch break or a 10 minute moment without having to leave the office?

PRO TIP: You can Use Google Drive inside Google Hangouts – see this great video from Ronnie Bincer and Trevor Beck on the Presentation Tool in Google Hangout  or their video about using Collaborative tools inside the hangout. This sort of thing could be very useful in education but remember that you can use Google Hangouts and have it running in the background. This tip is not for the average everyday person, so that is why Uber Conference Calls should be helpful.

Another Option for Collaboration: If the live chat doesn’t work for you, there is a feature called  “Letter Feed Messenger” which is sort of like iMessage meets Google Drive.


Add-On #10: Consistency Checker

Google Drive Add-On consistency Checker

Consistency checker will be helpful for longer documents.

This one is useful for those creating very long documents (doctoral dissertations come to mind) or other documents that have to be consistent. It will do an extra check for spelling but also looks to make sure you’ve handled numbers, hyphenation and other types of writing mechanics in a consistent way. For a subset of writing teachers or for college students writing long documents together, this is a great tool.

Add-On #11: Gliffy Diagrams

Oh, I love Gliffy and have used it a long time. Now, you can add the many diagrams to all of your Google Drive. I used this tool to map out the layout of my computer lab complete with measurements. From organization charts to layouts of just about any kind, this is a great addition to Google Drive.

Note: Some of you may prefer Lucid Chart, but I’ve not use that charting tool and love Gliffy, but think it is worth a mention.

Add-On #12: Twitter Curator

Twitter Curator Google Drive Add-On

Twitter Curator is an App that you can use to pull together the tweets your class makes as you share your learning. You can also use it to share tweets that are successful or even those made by authors and others to document further information about what you’ve learned. This is sort of like Storify meets Google Drive.

This add-on is a Google Doc version of Storify and could be a way to pull in tweets from your class Twitter account or another source as you annotate and discuss them.

Add-On #13: Kaizena

This tool is one that is going to take further notice. The purpose of Kaizena is to help teachers give better feedback to students. You can pull the document into Kaizena with one click using this add-on to easily add voice comments and thoughts on student work. This is a very impressive emerging tool for teacher feedback. (Free)

 Add-On #14: Document Merge

You might need to be a tad more tech savvy on this one, but go with me here with the 2 main uses I see for this in education.

Google Drive Document Merge

Document Merge will let you merge documents into new Google Docs or into email and can be a handy tool for the more tech savvy educator who has to customize things for others.

Instead of using a Google Doc template, you could create a standard document and then have a list of the data to go in each document and merge it to make new Google Docs. So, for example, you were going to have different documents for different student groups on different topics — so you might have 2 students write on robins and 2 other ones write on bluejays. But they are younger students and you want a common format for these documents. You can have an original document and have certain fields come from your data (like a merge) and then have this tool make those documents. While a small class might not be a big deal to do them individually, if you’re one IT person working with a whole elementary or  a teaching librarian who wants to do many google doc projects with children, THIS IS GOING TO SAVE YOU SO MUCH TIME!!

You can also use this to customize and merge emails. If you’re not using an offline app like Outlook or Thunderbird (many of us don’t) – you can produce customized emails with this service.

Add-On #15: Open Clip Art

Google Drive Open Clip Art.

Clip art is always an issue and this handy tool seems to mitigate the problem of worrying about licensing for students and clip art. With 50,000 clip art items and icons, it is a great start for quick icons.

So, you want to include clip art and not have to worry so much about clip art issues. This app has 50,000 thousand pieces of clip art and may just be what you’re looking for to use with students for quick graphics. I particularly like that they include icons so you can make it easier to navigate to other sites by making buttons.

Other Notable Add-Ons for Some Teachers

Finding More Add-Ons

While there are other add-ons including those that can let you send a fax from within Google Drive and others that let you sign contracts and documents, these are my favorites for educators. Let me know your favorites in the comments. To see the whole store, just open a document or spreadsheet and go to Add-Ons >> Get Add-Ons

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Jen Weening

    Hi Vicki,
    I was wondering what your thoughts were on the permissions that these third-party apps are requesting for access to your accounts when you activate the apps? I forwarded your blog post to the head of IT at my school and he expressed real concern about enabling these apps for reasons of privacy. I’d appreciate hearing your opinion on this. Some of these apps seem so awesome for incorporating into the classroom! Thanks,
    Jen

    • http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com coolcatteacher

      You must check the terms of service of each app, yes. However, that said, many of these apps are for schools and it is established to work with Google Drive via Google Apps for Domains which has its own guidelines for add ins as per the developers so it would be interesting to do some investigation and see which TOS trumps which one as I think that the TOS for mindmeister accessed through Google Drive is different than that from the main website you sign up on.

      This is worth looking into some more and I don’t know the answer to that. I’ve enabled many of these for me, but not for my students yet as we have a process here as well – these just went live on March 13.

      But to carte blanche ignore all of them without looking at the TOS would be a mistake as some of them can be very helpful to students and teachers. —
      Vicki Davis
      @coolcatteacher Blog
      Host: Every Classroom Matters
      Author: Reinventing Writing
      Co-Author: Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds
      :: This email (and tweets too) are off the record unless we specify otherwise.:: :::: Sorry for brevity as sent from my mobile device::::::

    • Andrew Stillman

      Add-ons produced by New Visions for Public Schools (Doctopus, autoCrat, both Add-ons for Sheets) abide by the following TOS – https://docs.google.com/a/newvisions.org/document/d/11J_mLOEPG5Zf-ZLyw-GylIRjPnHkhYQAqguE0fGxSsc/edit

      Would love to know whether these satisfy the concerns of IT administrators in EDU.

  • Andrew Stillman

    Hey there Vicki – something you may want to note in this article is that “Add-ons” have TWO totally different galleries. One for Docs and one for Sheets. Tools like Doctopus and autoCrat, formerly Apps Scripts, are now listed as Add-ons for Sheets.

    • http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com coolcatteacher

      Wow, Andrew. Thanks for sharing this. I didn’t know this. I guess I need to write this for Sheets as well. Thank you for pointing this out, Andrew.

  • Meghan Whitlock

    Thank you for the interesting information! I am just becoming familiar with some of these tools, and my students did an online literature discussion using a google doc last week. They loved doing it, they thought it was so cool! I commented on one of your posts before about new ways to teach writing and you mentioned using Kaizena, so I am definitely going to check out that Add-on and see if I can integrate the new tool with my writing classes!

    • http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com coolcatteacher

      Let me know how you like Kaizena – I enjoyed playing with it and look forward to using it. My sister uses voice commenting – she’s a professor for Savannah College of Art and Design and teaches online – and says it is key to elearning differentiation. You build a closer connection with voice comments!

  • James Ferreira

    Hi, we built many of those Add-ons here at Apps4Gapps and would love to hear your ideas about what you need now. google.com/+JamesFerreira

  • Peter Vogel

    Thanks for these suggestions Vicki.

    • http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com coolcatteacher

      You are so welcome Peter! You have given so many great suggestions to me over the years- glad to return the favor! ;-)Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher