Today in a workshop we were shown a powerful online tool, Google documents. It is a free online tool that allows you to create, edit, and share documents online, and not only can you use a word processor, but it also includes spreadsheets and presentation applications.
When reviewing this resource I can instantly see benefits for thek-6 classroom. When leading stage three students to do individual projects on a country in Asia for HSIE in my third year practicum, I witnessed a sometimes painful process in which students were attempting to retrieve their work from previous lessons. Students were individually using Microsoft Word to create a portfolio of informtation about their country of study, and a supporting PowerPoint to present their work to the class. Although the students were familiar with the process of saving their work on the school’s LAN, so that they could access it later on, there was always at least one difficulty with access each lesson. When it came time for the students to want to complete some of their work at home, this became an even more difficult experience. Much time was wasted on attempting to transfer the documents between the school and home.
This is where the use of Google Docs appears quite inviting as access problems between computers in the school, and between school and home no longer exist. In addition to this that fact that it is a free online tool, means no extra costs for school’s, and equal access for students from a variety of contexts.
However, although all these positive indicators show its potential in the classroom, it is the additional collaboration feature of Google Docs that I believe makes this an excellent resource for the classroom.
Click the following image to view a simple presentation created by Google, on how these features can be used in the classroom.
I believe it is the ability for students to work collaboratively, and share their work using Google Docs, that can provide more effective ICT lessons in the classroom, particularly with older stages. When working collaboratively, students can all be participating in the construction of their group documents simultaneously, avoiding the common situation of one student doing all the work on the computer, while other members observe. In addition to this teachers can access and view the student’s documents, and more importantly monitor student progress more effectively.
Google also has a variety of other tools which can be used in the education setting, such as Google SketchUp. Click here to access these resources and more on the Google for Educators site.
The following Video provides an insight into how some teacher’s and principals have already implemented Google Docs in the education setting.