For the past five years I have been using Google Docs and Google Drive for teaching and this year for storing and organising my research data also.
I first began using it because it allowed students to share their reflection blogs with me and for me to converse with them using the comments function. I was experimenting with the effect of reflective processes on learning and in the process learned a few important things.
The first thing has led to my doing a doctorate. I discovered that the reflective and commenting process was not only good for the students’ learning, and also for building healthy learning relationships between teacher and individual students, but I suspected also increased their ultimate achievement levels. Hence the research.
However, the second thing I learned was not so positive. My students accessed their Google Docs on their school Google accounts and they “owned” what they wrote. I learned the hard way, that when my students left the school, their accounts went with them and the wonderful reflection data was lost to me. I have learned therefore to change the ownership of data I wish to retain as the teacher.
Another tricky thing I learned when using Google Drive to share documents with a class of students so individuals can work on them, is to ensure they have very clear instructions to make a copy rather than dragging the doc to their folder. If they do the latter, the rest of the class can no longer see the document and often the student at fault has no idea of the effect of her action. Using Google Classroom prevents this from happening, although I haven’t gone there yet.
Asking students to collaboratively complete a task using Google Docs is a very satisfying activity. They scaffold each other’s learning and the teacher can synchronously oversee the process. Here’s an example of one such shared doc created by my Year 12 French class who were in the early stages of learning language related to teenage health issues for an NCEA internal assessment. Open the revision history on the right hand side to see who contributed. Will you have access to my school Google pages from a University Google account, I wonder? Maybe not. Here’s a screen shot instead:
Google Drive for teaching and learning is a really useful platform. I love it and so do my students.