Google Docs: For groupwork, it rocks!
One of the most revolutionary new products that I’ve brought into my school this year is Google Docs. GDocs is an online office suite (a la MS Office) with a word processor, spreadsheets, and presentation software. On their own, they are fine products (although typing a paper on the web still isn’t as comfortable as doing it on your own machine).
The beauty of these apps is that they allow multiple users to edit the same document at the same time, so you can get a whole group of people looking at (and adding to) the same document. Simple idea, but revolutionary ramifications.
Our school does a lot of group projects, and inevitably, we are forced to designate one student in the group as “the writer” because only one student could write the script at a time. That student usually did nmore work than everyone else and the whole system was unfair. Until now. Now, we can assign all students to make edits to the script, and we can see who edited what (minute by minute, edit by edit) in the “revisions” section. You, the teacher, can have students “share” docs with you, and then make comments on it as they’re working. They can see your comments, answer, and revise before your very eyes. I have even switched over to having all my papers turned in this way because 1) I don’t like handling paper, and 2) I can let the computer track and organize who turned in what when. I just have to read and respond!
I could go on and on about Gdocs, but I urge you to bring it in to your organization and see how it helps you and your colleagues work!
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