Collaborating with Google Docs

Why Google Docs?

Google Apps is a tremendous platform for facilitating online collaboration in your classroom, or beyond. It is freely available on the Web and if you are familiar with other word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation programs, you can easily use Google Docs. The chat feature on presentations makes it possible to create a “permeable classroom” by bringing experts into a lesson to interact with students online.

Here are some benefits of Google Docs:

  • It is available from anywhere and anytime with an Internet connection.
  • Instead of emailing files back and forth, Google Docs allows people to work on a single version of a document online.
  • There is no need to download software or worry about conflicting software versions.
  • You and your students can collaborate with Google Docs in real-time, or asnychronously.
  • Its tools and basic services are free.
  • You can see student work in progress as its happening and provide real-time feedback.
  • You can see who edited a document, what they edited, and when they edited it.
  • Every Google Docs you view is the latest version of that document.

Note: Google Docs in part of Google Apps, a suite of tools that also includes Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, and Google Sites (for web page creation). The Google Apps suite is available to schools and businesses.

Google Docs Tools

Google Docs is comprised of five tools that all work together. You can access all of these tools fromdocs.google.com if you have a standard Google account. However, if your school has Google Apps in place, the URL may be different.

Documents is an online word processor and multimedia editor. Here is what you can do with Google Documents:

  • Create, format, edit, and publish documents online
  • Make your document private, public, or just to those who have the link
  • Invite others by email to edit or view your documents
  • Do real-time (or asynchronous) group-editing from anywhere
  • Upload and convert Word documents, OpenOffice, RTF, HTML, text (.txt), Open Office (.odt), and StarOffice Writer (.sxw) files
  • View your documents’ edit (“revision”) history and revert back to any previous version.
  • Insert images, links, drawings equations, comments, and more
  • Use the chat tool to communicate with others in real time.
  • translate the document into another language
  • Download documents to your desktop as Word, OpenOffice, RTF, PDF, HTML or as a zip file.
  • Email your documents to others as attachments.

Presentation is an online slideshow tool. Here is what you can do with Google Presentation:

  • Create, fomat, edit, and publish a presentation online.
  • Make your presentation private, public, or just to those who have the link
  • Invite others by email to edit or view your presentation.
  • Make your document private, public, or just to those who have the link
  • Upload and convert existing PowerPoint presentations in .ppt and .pps file types.
  • Do real-time (or asynchronous) group-editing from anywhere.
  • Insert images, links, drawings, tables, a Google Drawing, and more.
  • Insert Google Video and You Tube videos into your presentation.
  • Publish your presentations as a website, or embed them into an exisiting web page.

Spreadsheet is an online spreadsheet tool. Here is what you can do with Google Spreadsheet:

  • Create, fomat, edit, and publish a spreadsheet online.
  • Make your spreadsheet private, public, or just to those who have the link
  • Invite others by email to edit or view your spreadsheet.
  • Import and convert .xls, .csv, .txt and .ods formatted data.
  • Use formatting and formula editing.
  • Export .xls, .csv, .txt and .ods formatted data and PDF and HTML files.
  • Use the chat tool to communicate with others in real time.
  • Publish your spreadsheet, or individual sheets, as a webpage or embed into an exisitng web page

Form in an online poll and survey creation tool. Here is what you can do with Google Form:

  • Create, fomat, edit, and publish a poll or survey online.
  • Make your poll or survey private, public, or just to those who have the link.
  • Insert varied questions types: text, paragraph, multiple-choice, checkboxes, choose from a list, grid, scale.
  • Invite others by email to take your poll or survey.
  • See responses instantaneously in real-time.
  • See responses in graph format or in spreadsheet.
  • Publish your poll or survey as a webpage or embed into an existing web page, or even a Gmail message.

Drawings is an online drawing tool. Here is what you can do with Google Drawings:

  • Create, fomat, edit, and publish drawings online
  • Make your document private, public, or just to those who have the link
  • Invite others by email to edit or view your drawings
  • Do real-time (or asynchronous) group-editing from anywhere
  • Insert images, shapes, WordArt, and more
  • Use the chat tool to communicate with others in real time.
  • align drawings to a grid or guide
  • Download drawings as PNG, JPG, SVG, and PDF file types.
  • Insert drawings into other Google Docs
  • Email your documents to others as attachments.

The video below from YouTube will give you a full tour of the capabilities of the Google Docs tools.

Examples of Google Docs in the Classroom

Here are several examples of Google Docs in the Social Studies classroom:

  • The Great Immigration Debate is a lesson designed to help students study a topic related to patterns in immigration history, while gathering and analyzing data using primary source materials.
  • Writing for Context is a lesson students will write a newsletter about their classroom for the purpose of sharing the knowledge they have gleaned from their studies.
  • Biomes is a lesson in which students present a link between a biome’s geographical features, climate, wildlife, plant life, and human inhabitants.
  • Ancient Egypt is a group Google Presentation by students in a Georgia classroom.

Video Tutorials on Google Docs

The first two video tutorials below where created by EdTechTeacher to demonstrate how Google Docs could be used in the classroom. The third one, created by Common Craft, gives a great summary of Google Docs.

EdTechTeacher Tutorial – Google Apps in the Classroom

Creating Charts with Google Docs Spreadsheets

Google Docs in Plain English video tutorial

How to Integrate Google Docs

Google Docs can be integrated in history classes in a variety of ways:

  • Teacher provides real-time feedback to students during an essay-writing activity.
  • Students create collaborative book reports.
  • Students and teacher collaborate on building a list of research sources
  • Students build vocabulary lists and definitions of historical terms.
  • Publish handouts and presentations online.
  • Teacher views “revisions history” to see who contributed what in a document or presentation.
  • Students create a web page and publish for an audience.
  • Students compile economic data, analyze it, graph it, and animate it.
  • Students create and incorporate drawings into presentations
  • Teacher and students save documents in a variety of formats

Be sure to check out our Google Apps for Education page on EdTechTeacher.org for even more information and examples.