How to Use Google Docs in the Classroom

Instructor: Sudha Aravindan

Sudha has a Doctor of Education Degree and is currently working as a Information Technology Specialist.

In this lesson you will learn about ways you can use Google Docs in the classroom, including collaborative projects and brainstorming, organizing for teachers, self-quizzing, and translation.

What is Google Docs?

Ever wondered how you could introduce technology in the classroom, and allow for collaboration and real time feedback? Well, Google Docs could be your answer.

Google Docs is an online Word processing software where all the documents and files can be saved on the Google Drive for free. All you need is a Google Account (also free), which, if you use Gmail, you already have. With Google Docs, all the files are saved on the Google cloud so you have access to your documents from any place, all you need is a device with an internet connection.

For all documents you create, you have the ability to decide who has access to your document and what kind of access they have. For example you might want to share a document on your adventures in Yellowstone with a friend but you don't want the friend to make any changes, so you would provide the friend with read access only.

Since Google Docs is available to everyone without having to purchase and install any software, it is a wonderful technological tool to use in the classroom. Here are some interesting ways to use to introduce this technology and keep students motivated and interested in the classroom.

For Students

Collaborative Writing and Editing

Let's say you have separated the class into groups and assigned each group a book review or science paper. This could be cumbersome and difficult for students as they would need to get together to work on the assignment, each with different notes or copies of the draft.

The collaborative feature of Google Docs allows students to learn to work as a team. With this program every student has an opportunity to contribute and include their ideas by working on the same document from different places or times. One big advantage of using Google Docs is that any changes made by one or more students or teacher can be immediately seen by all of the other students in the class who are working on the same document.

Collaborative Brainstorming

Without an online collaborative system, each student may work in isolation and create their own flow chart or visual diagram, however, with Google Docs a group of students can collaboratively work on the same flow chart and contribute to the groups' ideas and designs.

With visual diagrams and representations, students can collaborate to explain their ideas and work flow, and brainstorm ideas and solutions. Arrows and geometric shapes with different colors can be used to emphasize and summarize work, as well as track the latest changes. Each student can make a positive contribution to brainstorming the project each at their own time and convenience.

Translation

Google Docs has a feature where you can translate a document from English into a number of world languages including Spanish, French, and Dutch. Translating a document to a different language is simple, students can simply click on Tools - Translate document, select a language for the translation, and see the document translated to the language of their choice. They can then download the document and email it to their friends abroad, or simply share the document online with their selected friends and family.

For Teachers

Feedback

Within the collaborative work environment of Google Docs, the teacher can review student assessments and provide comments and feedback in real time. The student does not have to bring the document to school the next day to be reviewed and then wait to get the document returned with comments added. The feedback can be immediate.

Self-Grading Quizzes

Teachers can create a quiz that students can take on their own time using Google Docs, instead of using valuable class time and resources. Teachers write the quiz, submit the correct answers, and then students can all take the quiz as they choose. This way they can gain immediate, private feedback on what areas their knowledge may be lacking. A spreadsheet will be compiled for the teacher to view all scores.

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