Online Tools for Teachers: Google Docs
Lauren M. Bronson, Elementary School Teacher, Hillsborough County, Florida
With an often-dizzying volume of tasks to juggle each day, educators typically are keen to find new classroom tools that offer convenience, dependability and speed.
Among the more recent options is Google Docs, an online toolbox that includes word processing, presentation, spreadsheet and other applications. The “cloud-based” program allows teachers, students and other users to work on assignments and projects from any location with Internet access.
Google pitches the program as a way to achieve a “paperless classroom.”
Google Docs allows users to share documents via email and decide whether recipients will be allowed to edit documents, comment only or view only. Users and recipients can make edits and leave comments together regardless of their physical locations.
A history of all revisions made to a document can be accessed at any time and users can revert to a previous version if desired.
To limit the risk of losing work in the event of a computer crash or dead battery, the auto-save mode updates and stores a document whenever changes are made.
For teachers, Google Docs can offer opportunities and advantages in several areas:
Real-Time Feedback: Teachers can access student assignments during and after the writing stage to provide encouragement, guidance and feedback. Once the project is complete, teachers can make notes and assign a final grade directly onto the document.
Saving Paper: Educators can share class notes, project assignments and other information online, potentially cutting down on the time and cost associated with traditional paper-based classroom management.
Google Docs also can be enlisted to track students’ grades and attendance, as well as to improve communication with parents about school events.
School-wide Collaboration: Teachers and students can participate in collaborative projects with other classes, such as entering data from science experiments and comparing the results.
Writing Portfolios: Teachers can have students create a Google Docs account to keep an online portfolio of all their writing or other projects. At the end of the school year, students can review their portfolio to discover how their writing and other coursework has improved.
Classroom management duties that may once have imposed heavily on instructional time no longer need be as arduous given today’s technological advances. Google Docs and other Web-based tools such as Microsoft’s SkyDrive can provide teachers with greater efficiency in tracking student assignments and also may boost collaboration among students and across campuses.