Intro Even though writing is largely thought of as an independent activity, there are many benefits to collaborative writing. Sites such as Wikipedia are evidence that there is much that writers can learn from one another. Google Docs is an application, which is low in difficulty, that can be accessed through Gmail accounts and allows the sharing of documents online so that writers can collaborate using a single document with the option of creating/editing a document at the same time.
Uses Peer Editing Group Projects Tutoring Classroom Assignments Grading/Teacher Feedback
Peer Editing Since Google Docs allows multiple people to edit the same document, it can easily accommodate peer editing. Students must simply send an invitation to their assigned peers and those peers will be able to make the appropriate comments/edits. Multiple students can edit the same document without having to resave, re-print, or re-distribute. Each student’s corrections can be seen through the Google docs color coding system. Students can make suggestions without making changes to the body of the document by easily making comments which will appear in the margins. No one has to remember to save the document since it saves automatically. Different editors can collaborate in their editing since multiple users can make changes at the same time and can see what the others are doing.
Group Projects Google docs can be used to eliminate the confusion about contribution from group members when it comes to group projects. Students can all work from the same document at different times and instantly know the changes that have been made by other group members. All members of the group can work on the project at the same time without having to meet in person. Group members who would not feel bold enough to make suggestions in person can do so with less fear. The time allotted for projects could potentially be decreased, since collaboration would be much less time consuming. Instead of assigning specific duties, every group member can make contributions to every aspect of the project, which will make it more collaborative than typical group projects. Less classroom time would need to be spent giving students an opportunity to collaborate. As the teacher, you can create a document for each group, send out the appropriate invitations to group members and when grading, know exactly who contributed what.
Tutoring Using Google docs will allow more tutoring to be accomplished in a shorter period of time. After a student creates a document, they can make comments on all of the areas they are having trouble in or have questions on, instead of having to wait to see a tutor in person with the possibility of forgetting some of their questions. A tutor can make comments and suggestions without needing the student being tutored to be present. Both the tutor and the student have the option to view the document at the same time. Both can use the chat option to ask additional questions Teachers can tutor students without having to hold them after class for some subjects.
Classroom Assignments Instead of using independent assignments, Google docs could be used to review classroom lessons during the class period. Students would have the opportunity to gain different perspectives on the lesson from their classmates. All students could contribute, since this would not require raising hands and waiting to be called on. Even timid students would be able to contribute to classroom discussions. While students would not know who was contributing what, the teacher would be able to go back and monitor class participation.
Grading/Teacher Feedback When grading students’ papers teachers have the option to use Google docs in order for students to have a saved copy of their graded work stored in their email account. This will give students the option to not have to print out a paper and keep track of the corrected copy, since it will be automatically saved for future reference/use. When making suggestions for revisions, teachers can access the actual document to make comments and suggest corrections and additions. Students will not have to refer to several versions, they `will have a single version which they make corrections to and eventually turn in.
Conclusion There are many different benefits of using Google Docs including allowing your students to become familiar with a new technology for future use, collaborating with peers on a more detailed level, increasing student participation and confidence, saving valuable classroom time, allowing students to easily work together and allowing students to work from a single document instead of ending up with multiple versions/copies. This will be beneficial both inside and outside of the classroom. Google Docs has the potential to be a very useful classroom tool in the ways listed above as well as many other ways that you may discover on your own.
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