The greatest thing about moving away from paper, I think, is the ability to have the same information be in two places at the same time. And the different people in those different places can still be, literally, on the same page.
Google Docs takes familiar document formats (word, spreadsheets, presentations, etc) and puts them “in the cloud,” i.e., online, where they can be accessed from any computer, and by any number of people (of your choosing, that is). Here’s a little video by Google that explains the concept:
Also see Google’s “What exactly can I do with Google Docs?” list.
As you can see, if you have your students participate in group projects or collaborative assignments, Google Docs can be a perfect way for them to share and workshop ideas with each other (and with you).
In a Google word document, for example, multiple students can write in the same document at the same time, or separately over time. They can leave comments for each other within the text of the document itself, or in a “discussion” sidebar. Everyone always sees the most recent version all the time- vs passing paper or emailing files back and forth. And since the documents are shared with you, too, you can monitor their progress and comment as necessary.
Here’s my suggested process for using Google Docs for class:
- Your students will have to get google accounts if they don’t have them already (80% of our students do), and will need to tell you their Gmail address.
- You create and share a “collection” (a folder, basically) in Google Docs, and share it to your students’ Gmail addresses (not Hampshire email addresses).
- Any document you create, or the students create, in this folder is immediately accessible to the class. You can create sub-folders as needed for smaller sub-groups.
Want to give it a shot? I am happy to coordinate steps 1 and 2 for you, let me know. I can also visit your class and make sure all the students are clear on how it works, but most of them are familiar with Google Docs already.
Get in touch if you have any questions or would like an in-person demo of how Google Docs works.