Google Docs (found within the Google Drive application) is an online tool for creating text documents that can be easily shared with other people. Since the documents are stored "in the cloud," Google Docs makes collaborating and version control more manageable. For a platform for classroom writing, Google Docs allows the instructor to give feedback to the writer at various points in the writing process. In addition, the writer's revision history is captured, allowing the instructor and the student to examine not only the final product but also the process used along the way.
Using Google Docs in Your Class
Most of the activities in the writing classroom can be performed through Google Docs: drafting, revising, peer editing, collaborating, and providing feedback. Students can work through various drafts of their papers and instructors can check in and provide feedback at multiple points in the process. Students can easily highlight sections of their paper about which they have questions or concerns. A particularly rich and helpful component of using Google Docs to teach writing is that instructors can easily review the steps that students took in order to better assess the choices these writers made in drafting the paper. Instead of having students turn in a stapled collection of multiple drafts and peer-feedback letters, instructors can quickly view the revision history of the document.
In order to get explore some possible uses of Google Docs inthe classroom pick TWO posts from this list of Prof Hacker blog entries.
Then, watch the two videos below demonstrate two additional ways to use Google Docs to provide feedback to students. The first describes a color-coding system (Video: 11:40).
The second shows how to add voice comments to Google Docs (Video: 6:08).
Getting Started with Google Docs
You can review the information found in this guide to using Google Docs. Since many of the features of Google Docs are similar to other stand-alone word processors, you might find that some of the sections in the guide are covering known territory. For example, the steps for how to format a Google Doc will be quickly picked up by someone with just basic understanding of Microsoft Word. However, other features take advantage of the web-based format. These are useful to spend a little time exploring. Pay particular attention to the sections on "Inserting Comments" and how to "Share your document with other people"
- Tanya T. Sasser's blog Remixing College English explores using Google Docs for daily writing and writing in teams
- A Prof Hacker blog posts on using Google Docs Forms to Run a Peer-Review Writing Workshop and using Google Docs When Others Need Paper
- Using the Research Tool in Google Docs (a short blog post by Amanda French at Prof Hacker.)