A while back, Google asked teachers to tell them how they were using Google Docs and Spreadsheets. They have now published results of that questionnaire from teachers all over the globe. Two key themes emerge from this survey: collaboration and process. These are enthusiastic endorsements:
In some point of progress, the students invite me to join them and have a look at and give comments on their work. It helps me, as a teacher, to be able to participate in the process, not just see the final product. The students also appreciate that they can work without having to think about different software at home and at school.
This is a great point. As English teachers, we know that successful writing is all about revision, revision, and revise again. And, I can so relate to the last statement. I’ve been asked dozens of times why teachers seem to be slow to adapt to using technology in the classroom, and I just shake my head. There are so many incompatibilities and costs involved, it has seemed impossible to get everyone on the same page. Web utilities such as Google Docs make universal compatibility a reality. In fact, if I had to choose one reason why technology has stalled in the educational arena, I would say incompatibility of software and hardware tops the list, hands-down.
Another teacher incorporated a chat mechanism into her students’ presentations. One student conducted the out loud talk about the slides, while the others added their comments to the chat:
For the first time I can EVER remember as a teacher – 100% of the students were engaged in the presentation and participated in the chat. The students were enthusiastic and offered insightful and appropriate comments. The students liked being able to add their input without interrupting the presentation. I will definitely use Google shared presentations again.
Here’s a teacher from Portugal who appreciates his ability to comment on papers before they are revised into a finished copy:
One of the main features that I found was the ability of following their work (each group gave me access to the document), since the first day, inserting comments along the documents and giving clues to the students. Moreover in the end all of their work was published (with a click) and presented to the student community.
Google has an excellent tutorial for teachers who are considering this very useful tool.