Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Sky is the Limit with Google Drawing

Ever since I made the astoundingly wise decision to join Tony Vincent's online course "Classy Graphics with Google Drawing," I have all but abandoned the Microsoft Office suite for creation of classroom materials. Learning how to use Google Draw also opened the door for me to investigate Google Docs, Google Forms, and Google Slides. I love the fact that I no longer need to worry about saving work done at home to a flash drive that I carry to work since everything I create in the Google suite is saved in the cloud. Sorry if the way I talk about this magic gives me away as someone who did not grow up with the terminology. Is that even how digital natives say it? Saved in the cloud? Whatever! I am happy to be a digital transplant, non-native accent be damned.

A couple of weeks ago, I was standing at the copy machine, my hands outstretched as I eagerly collected a print job before heading off to class. "I made that," I bragged to a colleague who was next in the queue for the copier. She indicated that she would like for me to show her how to do it.  You don't have to ask me twice to show you how to do something; teaching is my passion.

And so about a week later I had six or seven colleagues from three different departments gathered in our computer lab after hours to get the quick and dirty introduction to Google Drawing. Since I cannot possibly teach all the concepts and applications of this great tool in an hour (nor do the sort of job Tony does in breaking it down and making it fun), I passed out flyers inviting those who wished to go further to Tony's only offering of Classy Graphics to take place in 2018. The deadline for joining is April 9th, 2018. Although the first class was this past Tuesday, that is not a big deal since all instruction is recorded and posted for viewing at each student's leisure. A lot of peer support takes place via Flipgrid among fellow educators located around the world. Homework assignments are always optional. It is very cool.

Anyway, everyone was pretty excited to receive an introduction to the platform. In just an hour of playing around, these coworkers of mine were already starting to get the hang of the various tools.

I had pinned to a bulletin board in the class a sampling of worksheets, graphic organizers, and posters I've made using Google Drawing as well as some magazine advertisements that could easily be reproduced using nothing but Google Drawing and an attractive photo. We analyzed how some of these were created.

I continue to be fascinated by graphic design and constantly view every bit of visual marketing in my environment with the question, "How did they do that? Could I do that?" With the exception of text that curves around a circle or semi-circle, I find there is just about nothing I cannot reproduce.

While flipping through a free magazine picked up this morning at a health food store, I spotted a lovely layout that I wanted to try to replicate just for the fun of it...just to see if I could. Here is my mock-up.

This took me about 20 minutes, including obsessively searching for the perfect fonts and similar photo of a rosemary plant. Not bad for free software, eh?

The thing I like most about Google docs, slides and drawings compared with Microsoft Word is that elements stay where I put them. With Word, I find myself very often frustrated and wasting time fighting the software to get it to do exactly what I want it to do and then not mess up what I had arranged when I go to add something else to the mix. The columns of words in my word bank below the bingo grid need to stay put and not bleed over onto the next page every time I sneeze. Why must I turn on REVEAL CODES to find out where the 3-column formatting ends? I should not have to first insert a table before using images just to ensure images will not get a life of their own and fly away to another part of the page when my back is turned. It's not like I don't know my way around the FORMAT IMAGE menus. I've been enrolling in MS Office suite workshops since the late 1990s. When I tick "different first page" in Headers and Footers, it should be intuitive and not make me guess whether the first page or every page thereafter is now going to keep the header I just created. Things like that drive me batty. Teaching is hard enough without having to duke it out with materials creation tools. These are some of the reasons I am abandoning Microsoft and embracing the Google suite of tools.

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