At the end of my first step in the Google vs 365 experiment, I noted the next step would be how easily we could get back to our documents. In the iPad/Office 365 environment that we’ve been trying to make fly for the past two years, it was always uncertain if a student would be able to get back into their account the next day to continue their work.
Turns out, both systems fared fairly well. In our Chromebook environment, we have one login that connects us to both accounts. So once students have logged into a machine, when they open anything Google, or even press the Office 365 login link from our Division website, they get that personal greeting indicating that they are already logged in. After all of the repeated login issues we’ve had with 365 on the iPads, this discovery of login ease made some students giddy!
Beyond that, Google was more straight forward. As we only have a Google docs icon on the homepage tray, as soon as they press that, they go straight to thumbnails of the documents they’ve created . One click and they are back to work. The 365 login, on the other hand, takes them to a clump of twenty icons, from which they have to choose Word. Once they’ve clicked on Word, the ‘new document’ prompt is prominent, and some had a tough time locating their existing document from the side bar.
At this point we are unable to print from the Chrome books, which means that someone has to print the documents from a desktop. Google wins in the printing department, too. When I click on the shared document, I can fix font, spacing or labelling issues immediately, and then print. In 365, I have to click on an “edit” button which downloads the document in order to make any font, spacing or labelling changes. After I click the print button, I then have to click again to open the PDF that it creates. Those extra clicks aren’t a big deal when printing an individual document, but become more time consuming over 20 to 30 papers.
The day ended with a telling sign about the Chromebook environment. We were about to write a controversial response paragraph-on paper in our novel study booklet- after finishing the novel Of Mice and Men. One brash student just got up and said, “I need a Chromebook.” Following this, four other students picked a Chromebook from the charging station, logged on (to Google, which this class had used the previous day) and began typing. A fifth student sat down with a Chromebook, started to login, then put it back, as the login, document naming and sharing was “too much hassle when I don’t have to.” This never crossed their mind as a desireable option when the iPads with 365 were available, but just made natural sense in the Chromebook/Google environment.