Thursday, March 15, 2012

Using Google Documents to Foster Collaboration and Communication in the Learning Environment

Are you looking for an easier way to promote group work among your students? Do you want to better facilitate peer review and editing in your classes? Do you wish you could see your students’ progress in a project before receiving the finished assignment? Do you want your students to participate in a shared knowledge development experience? Are you looking for simple and efficient ways to collect information from your students such as feedback on the course? If so, then you might want to take a closer look at Google Documents to see if this technology can help you in meeting your pedagogical needs.

Google Documents is one of the Google Apps for Higher Education that all faculty, staff and students at North Shore Community College have access to through their Gmail account. According to Google, Google Documents is “an easy-to-use online word processor, spreadsheet and presentation editor that enables” faculty and students to “create, store and share documents instantly and securely, and collaborate online in real time.”

Inside of Google Documents, faculty and students can easily create and share documents, presentations, spreadsheets, forms and drawings. Google Documents can also serve as online storage where you can upload and download already existing documents in a variety of file formats including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and PDF files along with image, audio and video files. Documents stored in Google Documents are available from any computer with Internet access.
The benefits of using Google Documents are many. Documents created and stored in Google Documents can be easily shared with anyone. Sharing permissions allow you to share a document with individual faculty or students at North Shore College Community, with the entire North Shore College Community, or with the entire world as a public document. When working in a document, you can see the real time edits and comments from other collaborators. You also have the ability to chat with collaborators within the document. As you edit a document, you can leave comments and have a discussion with other editors about the changes. A revision history is available for all Google Documents which allows you to review drafts, restore previous versions, and see what changes each collaborator has made. This provides accountability for students involved in team projects. Google Documents are stored securely on the Web and you can access and edit your documents from anywhere at any time. This minimizes the need to email documents to yourself and allows you to have a backup of your documents. And finally, documents can be saved as Word files, presentations can be saved as PowerPoint files, and spreadsheets can be saved as Excel files so students can create and submit to you files in a Microsoft format.

For more information on Google Documents, please visit this resource.

Or visit our YouTube Playlist for some good walks-throughs and explanations:
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of using Google Documents as a collaboration and communication tool or are interested in integrating it into your classes, please feel free to contact Instructional Technology and Design at
  • Do you think Google Documents has potential as a learning/teaching tool?
  • Have you used Google Documents in the classroom? If so, in what ways? If not, do you see any uses for Google Documents in the classroom? How might you use Google Documents?
  • What challenges might you or your students encounter in using Google Documents?