Google Docs as a collaborative tool

Over the last few weeks I have realised the power and possibility Google Docs for collaborative learning.

As part of the #eict350 module at out University we were encourage to use tools such as Google Docs for collaboration and Google sites to make multimodal resources for children. Google docs allows for collaboration which several participants working alongside each other on the same document. Google docs allows the power of unobtrusive collaboration, as written by Tom Barrat. He introduces the idea of ‘live marking’. Children are working on a piece of work that is shared with the teacher – and at the same time the teacher can add comments and marking to the document. But, as Barrat emphasises there still needs to be some kind of human contact – as a way to reinforce the comments to actively engage the children.

As opposed to written work – a teacher can silent monitor the children’s work, moving in and out from documents adding comments, whilst reinforcing some points to the children in person. This unobtrusive collaboration, does not intrude the children’s flow of work and can ignite new ideas into the children writing.

This only works effectively as Google has created a truly real time collaboration – where each character is updated in real-time on the readers computer. Children can reply and react to comments that the teacher puts. Instead of stopping the whole class to engage them in their writing, this can be done from the ‘confort’ of the teachers desk – engaging several children at a time, with multiple documents in several tabs.

However, the success of Google docs is in how the teacher uses it effectively. I can be used for effortless assessment for learning, praising good comments, and can modell good sentences on the class projector in seconds. However, it can be a more intrusive method than writing in books for those who find collaboration is key. Children’s typing skills may be holding them back – and teacher still need to use talk. But Google docs can be a very powerful tool if used in the correct way, and I can see myself using this for my own study and when I’m next in school

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7 thoughts on “Google Docs as a collaborative tool

  1. @Mr_A_Smith says:

    I have seen similar things used on previous school placements and I must say, teachers’ were very reluctant to use the technology. I am not sure whether this is due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of how to use the technology or whether they feel it is worthwhile. I myself am a little on the fence. I think it can be a useful tool but how often? when and where? Interesting post mate!

  2. jamesradburn says:

    It has many uses, but needs to be appropriately managed, and see whether it teaches your teaching style. You need to see what words for you. It’s definitely something for KS2

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  4. Ian Pratt says:

    As A Google certified Teacher i read your post with interest and have to agree with your comment at the end many teachers lack the knowledge to build technology into their teaching, many are stuck in their ways and have not embraced the potential of the technology available to them. There is also limitted access to the technology by kids in the classroom.Unless i can get into the ICT suite or set the task as homework using the technology is also difficult.

    The potential of Google docs is massive if teachers can take it on board at present i have just started a collaboration with a school just outside Washington DC about the Olympics.
    The ability to share and learn from each other is fantastic.

    • jamesradburn says:

      Thank you for the comment. I have found that every school I have been into on placement, schools are extremely reluctant to experiment with new technology – many schools do not use a SMART board to its full use. Have you checked out Oliver Quinlan’s blog – he has a lot about collaborating using google docs; he to, just like you is a qualified google certified teacher. I wonder what the next steps are to help reluctant teachers experiment with technology such as Google docs?

  5. Google docs says:

    Definitely the success lies with teachers but I also see how easy a tool is, so that teachers understand it. I’ve come across few tools which looks very handy. One such tool is CollateBox http://www.collatebox.com/ . You guys can have a look.

  6. Interesting points, I think we do need to make sure teachers realise the power of some of these tools and that it is worth spending the time to get to grips with them.

    I have written lots on using Google tools, particularly Docs, in the classroom here: http://www.oliverquinlan.com/blog/category/google-docs/

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