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