Parent Technology and Literacy Coffee Morning: Google Docs

Continuing our Google Apps for Education theme, this month’s Parent Technology and Literacy Coffee Morning was focused on Google Docs. All students at YIS have their own Google Apps for Education account, and one of our most important and essential features is Google Docs.

Here’s a brief intro to why Google Docs is so powerful:

This is just an introduction, Google Docs can do so much more:

Sharing Levels: Any document can be shared with anyone else (with a Google Apps account) in a variety of ways:

  • View only: they can see the document, but they can’t edit
  • Comment only: they can see the document, and leave comments
  • Edit: they can see, edit and share the document

Revision History: Every single change in a Google Document is saved, as a revision history. This means that you can see every single version of the document ever. You can see who made the change, when the change was made, and even revert back to any previous version.

Commenting & Formative Feedback: It’s possible to leave comments on a Google Doc to suggest areas of improvement for students. These comments also show up as e-mails to let them know that the teacher has viewed the work and left feedback. Just like the revision history, all comments are stored (even when they’re “resolved”) so you can see every single suggestion made by the teacher (or response by the student) and the follow up work. This is a great way to give formative feedback during the learning process.

Publishing Work: Since Google Docs are stored in the cloud, it’s very easy to publish work anytime, anyway. It’s just a matter of changing the sharing settings, and then linking, or embedding, the finished document in a blog post. Here’s an example from one of my grade 6 Technology students: Mimi’s Investigate Reflection: take a look at her thumbnail image which links to a finished Google Doc, as well as her finished Google Presentation, which is embedded (meaning you can watch it from within the post) at the end.

Many Tools in One: Google Docs is not just documents, it’s also spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and forms (plus they’re always adding, so I’m sure there will be something new soon enough). Basically it’s like an online version of Microsoft Office or iWork. And it’s free! You might think that being free, and being online will limit some tools (which can be true, depending on what you want to do), but it’s pretty amazing how powerful Google Docs really is. Here’s a great example of what you can do with Google Presentations:


Once we had an idea of what Google Docs can be useful for, we talked about how it’s used at YIS. Here are a few examples:

As a way to share class resources: In order to ensure that students have access to course documents anytime anywhere, I create a collection in Google Docs which I share with all students in my class. This way they have every assignment sheet and resource I’ve ever created with the click of a button. This folder is shared with students as “View Only” so they can see all of the documents, but not edit. This is also great for using templates because students can see the template (here’s an example), and then make a copy and fill it in.

As a dropbox for student work: Each student in my class has shared a collection (folder) with me that includes all of the work they’ve done for my class. This collection is a great way for both the teacher and the student to know exactly where all work for this course is stored. It’s great for Parent Teacher Conferences too, because we can quickly see every single piece of work the student has ever completed. New items are bold, so I can see at a quick glance what still needs to be graded. Any type of file can be stored here: documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.

As a collaborative learning or note-taking tool: Very often in grade 6 we brainstorm ideas as a class, to help students complete future work independently. A great way to do this is with a Google Doc where everyone can edit. All students are collaborating in a shared place, so there’s only one document to look back to, and as a class we can ensure that everything on the document is accurate and useful. Plus, each and every edit is stored, so we can quickly and easily see all changes.

All in all, Google Apps for Education is pretty amazing! The best part is that they’re always improving, so we could be doing even more amazing things soon!

Next Coffee Morning: Please join us for our next Parent Technology and Literacy Coffee Morning on Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 9:15 in the Cafeteria. Next month we’ll be chatting about Facebook – how to set up an account, set your privacy settings, and how to best help your child manage an online presence. Looking forward to seeing you there!

3 thoughts on “Parent Technology and Literacy Coffee Morning: Google Docs

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