Ever since reading The Digital Writing Workshop by Troy Hicks I have been increasingly interested in using Google Docs with students. This free, easy-to-use online MS Office-like productivity suite allows students to write anywhere they have an Internet connection. Google Docs stores their work and most amazingly even allows them to collaborate with others on the same document. In other words instead of emailing files back and forth, editors work in the same document whether its a text file, spreadsheet, or presentation file. These editors could be students in the same class, same school, or from half-way across the world. These editors could also be teachers providing feedback on student writing assignments without the headache of emailing files and hoping praying that everyone has the same version of MS Office.
Last week Google created a nice little PDF outlining just how Google Docs can improve the writing process and thanks to my friend Colette in Oregon I am posting it here. When you have a moment take a look at the document and start imagining how Google Docs could help your students. I should also mention that Google Docs is actually part of a larger collection of tools known as Google Apps. Below is a little blurb I copied from the Google Edu overview document.
“Google Apps gives your campus the power to securely create, share, communicate, and collaborate from any web browser. With Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sites, and Google Video, Google brings collaboration to your existing systems without adding servers, software, or maintenance. Built for interoperability, Google Apps builds productivity across your campus and provides your students, staff, and faculty with the accessibility, easy collaboration, and maintenance-free updates that Google’s web-based solutions deliver. Google Apps Education Edition is free for educational institutions.”
Did you happen to notice that it is free?!?!? So, now I guess the only real question is why don’t your students have access to Google Apps for Education? Don’t worry you aren’t alone. I’m asking the same question myself.