When someone mentions Google, we mostly think about the search engine. But truth is, the company has created a whole world around it.
You probably know about Gmail, where you can create your own email address. But what you probably don’t know is that this address opens you the doors of a dozen possibilities. Google bought YouTube in 2006 (http://www.nbcnews.com/id/15196982/ns/business-us_business/t/google-buys-youtube-billion/), and having a Gmail address enables you to have an account on Youtube, where you can comment and like videos, suscribe to channels and even upload your own personal videos. Having a Gmail address also gives you access to Google Play, where you can rent movies or buy apps (http://play.google.com/intl/ALL_us/about/overview/index.html), Google + (where you can share photos and chat with friends) and even Google Drive (free storage space). In short, Google is a whole world, full of tools and possibilities.
But what I want to talk about in this blog is Google Docs. Basically, this application enables you to share documents with other people. Sounds simple, right ? But what is amazing about Google Docs is that you can enable your friends to not only see your documents, but also to edit them. So if you are in school, and you have a team project, you can simply put the paper on Google Docs and let your teammates add their own parts to the whole project. It is less complicated than always sending your parts by email, where it can get lost. Sharing your documents via Google Docs also means no more page layout problems. No more “this file is not compatible” popups. I find that pretty amazing. USA Today posted a review ((http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/08/31/review-google-apple-decent-contenders-to-office/2723315/) of Google Docs vs. programs like SkyDrive or even Microsoft Word. Who is the winner ? Google Docs.
Now why use Google Docs in a classroom ? The main reason, for me, is that it is easier. It is easier for you as a teacher, because you can have constant access to your students’ work. It is also a great tool for you to give them feedback (for example, write advice or corrections directly in the document, using another color). Instead of asking students to print out their work at each draft, and have dozens of copies on your desks, where some might get lost, you have them all on your computer, all in one place. It is also better for the environment. As a teacher, it is also a great way to give resources to your students. You can post articles or texts on the Google Drive and give your students access to them. Google published a presentation on all the ways you can use Google Docs (and all the other tools by Google) in a classroom, and there are dozens (https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1OhZuPRWgT-eit2-c4yEER4epRC3IumbOcTH2saONMeg/present?slide=id.g323f8ef1_2_99).
Google Docs makes your life easier as a teacher. But it is also easier for your students. I personally used it during my years at CÉGEP, and it was very useful to me when I had to do projects in team. It is a way of always having your work somewhere, safe, where you will not lose it because your computer crashes or because your dog eats it (;-)). Also, Google Docs is great for team projects. Sometimes, it is hard to work with other people, because your schedules don’t match, or because one member of the team goes away for the weekend, or anything. But with Google Docs, you can share the work from anywhere, at anytime. It is easy to see your partners’ work, share advice and comment, and even correct each other to assure that your project is good and that you are proud of it. You can also use Google Docs to brainstorm while researching for a project (http://gettingsmart.com/2012/12/5-ways-to-use-google-docs-in-the-classroom/).
There are dozens and dozens of ways to use Google Docs in a classroom (http://www.edudemic.com/50-little-known-ways-google-docs-can-help-in-education/), and not only for sharing documents purposes. You can create some interesting and meaningful activities with this tool, alongside with the rest of the applications that the “Google World” has to offer you. I think that it is a great way to help the students work efficiently, and also to help your work as a teacher. Why not try it out ?