As I read through some blogs and articles about possible applications of Google Documents in the classroom, I realize that, as is often the case, the only limit to what can be done is my imagination. As a matter of fact, one author came up with more than 80 different ways to use Google Documents in the classroom. To me, the most interesting aspect of Google Documents is its cooperative aspect. Teachers can get their students to write stories together or correct one another’s assignments.
For me, the most interesting possibility is the fact that all the students can work together on an assignment. That is how I would use Google Drive: ask the students to write a story together (in teams of four). Collaborative writing through Google Documents can be both fun and interactive, the challenge is to stop the students from writing together all at once. In order for this activity to work, I would need to make it very clear that students can only write one line at a time. The other difficulty, for the students, would be to come up with something that “works” even though it would be the result of 4 different imaginations (and therefore the text would tend to go in four different directions). As they work on their collective assignment, each teammate would have the possibility of correcting his / her fellow teammates’ mistakes. By correcting one another, students learn their grammar better. Through Google Documents, this is all possible live, all the students need is a gmail account (which they might already have anyway).
Even if correcting one another while writing a story together is great, it differs from correcting someone else’s assignment altogether. One of the toughest tasks for a teacher is to correct and grade the work of students. It is very time consuming and the students have to wait before getting any feedback. For me, an interesting solution is to ask the students to put their documents online through Google Documents and to ask one of their classmates to correct them. I have mentioned earlier the advantages for the students of correcting one another but this also makes life on the teacher easier as he / she can focus on helping the students live in class as they are confronted to their writing problems. This model is very efficient because it allows the teacher to give the students more writing assignments while the teacher uses less time correcting and grading… and spends more time teaching and helping.
Using Google Documents also makes flipping a class much easier, I did not dwell upon this because it is not the possible application of Google Documents that struck my interest the most. In this case, the use of technology was only limited by my tastes and preferences. Now that says a lot.