The “Basic Suite” consists of support tools that are frequently used by most people; word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software. Each of these software programs have made writing and producing work much easier and faster than it was when I was in school. My sole option was paper and pencil. This process required multiple drafts to get the “final copy” created for a project. Drafts would be written in pencil, edits and suggestions were completed using colored pencils or pens. The process would repeat until the final draft was produced. It required us, as teachers and learners, to have the skills to use a dictionary or thesaurus to look up words and participate in peer/teacher conferences to critique grammar mistakes, run-on sentences, and fragments. I can still remember the various editing symbols we would used to represent misspelled words, missing punctuation, and how to delete a word. The writing process took much longer than it does now.
Word processing, such as Microsoft Word or Google Documents, allows a user to create written texts for multiple purposes. As a teacher, they can create a letter to parents, create their weekly newsletters in simple format and even upload it to the web. Teachers can develop a template that the students can then copy and use for a project. Google Docs contains templates for anyone to use, thus making it even faster to modify and use as their own. The advantage to using a word processing program is it allows for a faster written product. Text can be changed or deleted with a click of a button and paragraphs can be moved to make the content flow more smoothly. The document informs you of a misspelled word with the red curvy line, click the right button and choose the correct spelling of that word. There is no longer the process of multiple copies for one project as comments, edits and changes are all done on the same document and can be deleted. This has saved time and efforts for any user. The last advantage to discuss is the ability to add tables, charts, and graphics to a document. This option allows for all resources to be in one document and improving the appearance and outcome of the final product.
Spreadsheets, or Microsoft Excel, allows data to be organized in rows or columns. It is easily sorted to make the content organized and any mathematical computations are easily calculated through the use of formatting cells. Once the data is collected, charts can are created making it easier to analyze the data for discussions or presentations. A teacher can easily use spreadsheets with students for math concepts and projects such as budgeting and accounting. I have even seen spreadsheets used to teach the concept of fractions, area, and perimeter. Science classes can implement the use of spreadsheets through data collection for experiments or demonstrations for science fair projects presentation. The feature of charts allows the students to create tangible and colorful diagrams for their project’s outcomes. Spreadsheets can also be used as a gradebook for teachers, though I assume many districts have moved to online programs such as PowerSchool like we have used for 6 years now.
The final “Basic Suite” software is Presentations, or Google Slides, is a program used primarily for presenting information to an audience. The user has the ability to add bulleted information, images, graphs, charts, videos, and even voice recordings to support the content being presented. Microsoft and Google have created various themes for the user to choose from for the background or one can upload their own background to make it more relevant to the content. It contains the same editing features used in documents for text, spell checker, and formatting making it a faster process for creating a project. It does offer some jazzy transitions and animations that can be added to create more personalized presentation. This program is used by teachers and students fairly frequently. Teachers create presentations for their lectures and students take notes on the bulleted content. Using presentations has offered a less stressful oral presentation because one does not need to memorize an entire speech. The content on each slide can assist the person in remembering what to discuss next. This is especially true for the students when required to present the class. Majority if the students are uncomfortable with oral presentations. The powerpoint presentation offers a way for the focus to go to the slides rather than the presenter. A user can easily organize their content using presentations because the “index card” process we used growing up to organize an idea with the details can be used for powerpoints. This is a popular method for creating projects that companies have created Web 2.0 tools that mirror presentations but have different features, such as Prezi.
One of the largest benefits I see in using these programs in Google is the ability to interact and collaborate on the same document, spreadsheet, or presentation in real time. I reflect on the extra steps it took to get documents from one person to the next when a teacher assigned a collaborative group presentation project. The only option was to add details one person at a time because only one person was able to have the document open. Being a GAFE (Google Apps for Education) district, the basic suite is a support tool used daily. It promotes the soft skills of collaboration and communication because the there is an option to have several people working on the same document at one time. It allows the teacher to add comments and details while the group is working so they can have a deeper and richer conversation when it is relevant.
Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Technology tools for the 21st century teaching: The basic suite. In M. Fossel, M. Feliberty (Eds.), Integrating educational technology into teaching. (pp. 106-137) Upper Saddle River, NJ. Pearson Education, Inc. (7th ed.)