This week, I started doing my first practicum as a teacher. I looked at my cooperative teacher and how she used technologies in her class. It made me wonder how I could use it in my class. In elementary and secondary school we used projectors and acetate, Microsoft Office’s Word, Excel and PowerPoint softwares and that was all. In one of my university class, I saw and experimented Google Docs. At the end of the semester, I looked back on how my teacher used it in the classroom and I thought that she made a good use of it. So I did a bit of research about it in order to see what were the other possibilities available with this website in a classroom environment.
I searched on the main website first, Google. I found out that Google Docs was an interactive word processing software. In fact, students can share a document with others and work together simultaneously even though they are miles away! The students can edit and add comments on the side. As a teacher, you can also restrict them to adding comments or to have a look at document in which there would be instructions about a specific task. By doing so, students will be able to refer to it each time they have a question. There is also a chat box available, so they do not have to write and delete each time they want to say something to each other. Using Google Docs also avoids problem concerning meetings, since every students has a different schedule.
I continued my research by looking at what people were saying about it. I found one article quite interesting. The author made a global description of Google Drive, in which Google Docs is one of the main features. Woody Leonhard wrote in his article: “If you’re comfortable with Office 2003, you’ll feel right at home in the Google apps. But if you prefer the more visual interfaces of current Office apps – including enlarged icons that are easier to hit – Google’s apps will feel dated.” In fact, this word processing software is really simple and straightforward. It does not take much time before people get to know how it works. Therefore, if the students are quite familiar with Microsoft Word, they should not be lost with Google Docs. Following this idea, there are nearly as much tools for formatting as Microsoft Word has. Moreover, as Microsoft Word and OpenOffice are compatible, students can download and upload documents if they wish to share them with their teammates.
In an other article, Anick Jesdanun, who is constantly working on different computers, claimed that Google Docs was an excellent software, since it is easy of access. As a matter of fact, you can have access to your documents from any device that is able to go on the web. Moreover, students will not need to stress about whether or not they forgot to save the document (which happens on a regular basis, let’s face it), or if their computers turn off unexpectedly. Why? Well, as soon as someone edits a document on Google Docs, it is saved automatically, immediately. One partner erased something you thought was important? No worries, it is always possible to go back using the history of editions.
In addition, it is great to know that when login in Google Docs, students have up to 15GB of free storage! It is way more than what they need, considering the fact that 1GB can support up to 13,000 Word documents. Moreover, it is not every students who has access to Internet. In this case, Google Docs is perfect for them. They only need to download Google Chrome and this will allow them to edit their work while they are offline and as soon as they have access to Internet, the modifications will get online. They can also download the app on their iPod or iPad, which nowadays, is in everyone’s pocket.
Why use Google Docs as a teaching method? Well, it can become a useful and interactive tool to use with students. In fact, they could have to write a story or an essay, depending on the level, and write it cooperatively. They could be on different computers and work on the same text and at the same time. Also, they could be writing texts individually and then put in pairs to look at their partner’s paper and give feedback online, using the sharing document option. This way their written production will get better and having to look at someone else’s text will motivate them to do their task earlier, if they want feedback. The only problem possible is that maybe children will not have access to a computer. To prevent this situation, teachers have to look for the availability of computers before making their course plan.
Have I convinced you?