This week, I thought I’d focus on Google Docs. I know that Google Docs has been around for a few years, but it has come up in several conversations lately. I figured this was nature’s way of telling me what to blog about this week. For those of you who already use Google Docs, feel free to comment on the blog space about how easy it is to use and how you’re using it with your students.
Google Documents is an online package of applications that resemble the Microsoft Office suite. Google Docs offers a word processing application, a presentation tool, a spreadsheet application and a forms application. Besides being online (and FREE!), these tools allow you to easily share documents and collaborate with colleagues. Imagine you have students working on a project together. With Google Docs, the students can edit the same document at the same time, each seeing the contributions of their peers. The great part is that if the document is shared with me as their instructor, I can see who has contributed what parts of the document and fairly grade students based on their work. Another great component of Google Docs is the ability to publish documents online. It has to be the easiest way to publish a webpage imaginable. If you create a word document, you can create and publish a webpage in Google Docs. It’s that easy.
Besides being a great collaborative writing tool, Google Docs would be a great way to assess students at the beginning of a course or for students to peer edit one another’s writing. With its ease of use, I really believe it’s a great alternative to Microsoft Office. To get started, just set up a Google Account and jump in. I would suggest linking it to your Gmail account because other email servers can block Google Docs sharing notifications.
For a brief tutorial on Google Docs word processing feature, check out the video below: