Promoting Creativity & Collaboration in Your Classroom with Google Docs

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Google Docs is an easy-to-use online productivity suite including a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, and form applications provided free by Google. Google Docs has gained popularity in schools over the past couple of years because it is a simple but powerful application for teachers and students to create and/or edit documents online and collaborate on projects over the Web. Teachers and students can create or upload their own documents, invite others to share them by email address, edit documents online with anyone they choose, publish the documents online to the world or only to whom they choose, and post their documents to a blog. Google Docs allows more than one person to work on the same document at a time, though they can work on the collaborative document at different times. Students no longer need to e-mail files to other group members and deal with the confusion that often occurs regarding software compatibility issues. The documents are stored on Google’s servers, and multiple students can collaborate on a document simultaneously.  Also, Google Docs includes a chat window to allow collaborators to communicate about the documents as they edit them in real-time, without the delay of waiting for others to update their portion of a document or presentation.

Martha Abadie and I just did a presentation “Promoting Creativity & Collaboration in Your Classroom with Google Docs” at the 2010 MECA Conference in Jackson this afternoon.  Below is our presentation.  We welcome comments and suggestions for our presentation.

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About Steve Yuen

I am a Professor Emeritus of Instructional Technology and Design at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States.
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7 Responses to Promoting Creativity & Collaboration in Your Classroom with Google Docs

  1. I’m always excited to visit this blog in the evenings.Please keep on churning out the content. It’s very entertaining.

  2. Madelon Gruich says:

    I was introduced to Google Docs in Dr. Shuyan Wang’s IT662 Networks in Communication class in the Fall 2009 semester at the University of Southern Mississippi. The majority of the course work involved group collaboration and Google Docs became our repository for the lessons being created and shared. Without this tool, our tasks would have been much more difficult. Each member of the group completed certain components, and those components were then compiled into a final document. PowerPoint presentations with audio, tabulated materials collated in Excel spreadsheets, and Word documents were among the different projects shared and completed in this online class. Additionally, our group participated in a synchronous chat weekly to provide input into various sections of the assignments. We were able to view the documents uploaded to Google Docs and discuss them from our homes.

    Most of my experience with Google Docs has been positive. I will say, however, that PowerPoint files must be kept small in order to upload. One of our projects was rather large, containing 50 or more slides with pictures, so we had to divide the presentation into sections before we were able to upload. Files saved in .pdf format seemed to work best. The applications to educational and industry settings are limited only by the imagination of the individual producing documents. Problems initially hampered by distance become nonexistent. Because everyone in a group is given a link to access the documents uploaded to Google Docs, there is no need to email copies of documents to group members. My overall experience with Google Docs is very positive, and I would recommend this tool for collaborative use.

  3. kemp says:

    Google Docs is another example of why Google will continue to be relevant and ‘rule the world’. The free application is useful, simple to use, and makes life easier.

    I am reminded of the key component of Davis’ Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) and that is the ‘ what’s in it for me factor?’ According to Davis when people realize that a piece of equipment, application, or new software actually can make their lives/jobs easier, they are much more likely to embrace and master it. I believe that Google accomplishes this with user-friendly apps that are readily available.

    I used Google Docs to assist our program evaulation committee as we worked on our recent self-study. It was invaluable, especially that we could all be editing simultaneously in real time.

    Thanks for an interesting post and presentation.

  4. Dane Conrad says:

    In June of 2009, my district moved from Novell Groupwise as our email system to Google Apps for Education (GAE.) GAE includes not only Google’s email service, Gmail, but also includes Google Docs, Sites, Chat, Calendar, Video, and Contacts for users. The service is free for educational organizations that meet certain criteria; we didn’t have any trouble proving that we were in fact an educational institution. Layered on top of the Gmail service with GAE is also their Postini service that enables the technology department to administer the mail service in a variety of ways.

    While the email switch has been great for my department, teachers and administrators within the district have used the Google Docs to create more efficient workflows and documentation sharing within our schools. For instance, at one school, the teachers are putting student lunch count information into a spreadsheet that is shared between all teachers and the cafeteria staff. The cafeteria staff is then able to see the results and print them as necessary without having to send students around campus to pickup the information. In another scenario, my staff and I had to document serial numbers on various pieces of Cisco equipment from the 6 campuses in a time crunch. I was able to create a spreadsheet and share it with my technicians who walked around with their laptops and recorded the serial numbers of the equipment. I was then able to clean it up a bit and share it with the person who handles our asset management system.

    We have not activated the Google Chat feature or the Video service because of policy issues. We can’t archive the chats between users and can’t successfully only allow our specific video site without opening up the entire Google Video service, which has adult content on it that is easily accessible.

  5. 鄭伊真 says:

    只要有一個g-mail帳號即可使用Google Docs,簡單來說,Google Docs就是線上版的office工具,可以產生文件、試算表和簡報,比較不用擔心檔案不見、損毀、開不起來等問題,使用起來與寫e-mail感覺很像,最大的不同應是Google Docs能讓許多人共同完成projects,而且可從history看到成員的貢獻。我覺得這與老師之前介紹的wiki的概念與性質相似,那時我們是用wetpain這個免費線上軟體做練習。合作學習、集體創作似乎是web 2.0時代的一項顯著特徵。

  6. 鄭伊真 says:

    只要有一個g-mail帳號即可使用Google Docs,簡單來說,Google Docs就是線上版的office工具,可以產生文件、試算表和簡報,比較不用擔心檔案不見、損毀、開不起來等問題,使用起來與寫e-mail感覺很像,最大的不同應是Google Docs能讓許多人共同完成projects,而且可從history看到成員的貢獻。我覺得這與老師之前介紹的wiki的概念與性質相似,那時我們是用wetpain這個免費線上軟體做練習。合作學習、集體創作似乎是web 2.0時代的一項顯著特徵。

  7. Ahu says:

    I wholeheartedly support the connection between collaboration and creativity as emphasized in this paper. Having a technology, such as Google docs, which allows for this collaboration to take place online (for reasons such as distance learning, limited resources, limited contact time, etc) certainly assists in the process of several learners collaborating on a single project. In addition, although not mentioned, the use of face-to-face collaboration sessions, use of paper-based materials, and off-line group discussions, is critical and necessary for true collaboration to take place.

    Creativity springs from the diversity of viewpoints, the interaction, and the ability to co-construct knowledge among peers, under the assistance or coaching of an instructor. True collaboration is a great source of inspiration, confidence-building, and brainstorming of ideas that one might be unable to accomplish alone. As such, the use of collaborative activities for fostering creativity, particularly in writing or publishing, is highly recommended.

    The warning and potential pitfall of using Google docs, is that students can easily become isolated physically from others, working simultaneously on parallel computers while editing the same content. This can be a ridiculous waste of resources and failure to foster personal interaction if not monitored and limited. Certainly, to provide interaction at home or after school hours, the use of Google docs in private is fundamental. However, I would warn educators not to overlook the power of personal, face-to-face interaction and collaboration/editing/review which takes place together (either on one computer, or in a non-digital format). Good classroom practice can never be substituted by technology, and collaborative interactions must not be overshadowed by technology.

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