For those not familiar, Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) is a collective suite of powerful and free online tools that allow users to create documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more. What sets Google Drive apart from typical office productivity programs is the ability for those users to share their work and actually invite others to collaborate in real time on the same file or project.
In a school setting, there is tremendous potential for teamwork and communication between peers and teachers, as illustrated by some of these case studies:
- For a review activity in one of our 10th grade European History classes, each student was instructed to provide 10 multiple choice review questions and answers to share with classmates. Rather than printing out countless copies, or sending hundreds of emails back and forth, students compiled their questions into a single Google Document. What started off as a single set of questions has transformed into a 47-page review vehicle, fueled entirely by student contributions.
- Student writers involved in our weekly news publication create and submit their articles as Google Documents and electronically share it with editors and associate editors for proofreading. Once the editors review the written work, they make corrections and comments throughout the document. The original writer can easily revisit the document and click to view the revision history. Best of all, there’s only one version of the file, no messy emails flying back and forth with confusing revision numbers.
- Pennsylvania elementary school Principal, Lyn Hilt posed a question to educators online: "Teachers: how are you using Google Apps?" She created an empty Google Document and shared it with the world. Educators from around the world connected, viewed, and chimed in over the last several months, adding in their two cents the same way as the above students.
There are terrific examples in school buildings everywhere and many more beyond their walls. Some of our students are using Google Docs on their own - sharing, studying and reviewing with their friends and classmates. As educators in an increasingly digital, online world, let's be cognizant of these tools, and facilitate technologies like this to provide our students (and ourselves) even more authentic opportunities to learn by doing.