Getting Students on Google Docs

This past week I had two of my groups use Google Docs.  My advanced ESL Research & Study Skills students used a spreadsheet in Google Docs to document their research question, their primary and secondary topics as well as a bit of personal information.  I chose a Google Doc spreadsheet  for this task:  1) to help them finalize, document, and share their writing topics; 2) to enable them to see who else in the class was interested in their topic or one similar enough in order to collaborate or at least share information with;   3) to be able to project the information on a screen so my colleague in the psychology department, Dr. Marco O’Brien,  who is volunteering his time to help the students develop their scientific research paper, would be able to quickly look over the students’ ideas while working with them; and 4) so the students could easily edit their work at school, at home, in the library,  or wherever they had the opportunity.

My second group, a combined high beginning/low intermediate,  Talk ‘n’ Tech class, also used a spreadsheet in Google Docs to write down information about themselves and then to use that information as a basis for “getting to know you” conversation in small groups.  The document also helps me know them better in order to use their backgrounds and interests in future conversation and technology activities.  I intend to also build on the document and have the students update it as the class continues.

I was happy to know that our students email accounts were acceptable as Google accounts, so the students did not need to open new ones.  A problem we encountered, however, was that our MATC computers were set for medium level privacy and we needed to remember to enable cookies by lowering the privacy level in Internet Explorer prior to opening up the Google Docs.  If we enabled them once we were in the “Doc,” when we refreshed the page, we were taken back to Blackboard and had to start over again.  So, it became a long route to get to a short distance.

The more advanced computer users were impressed with the ability of the entire class to be concurrently working on the same document.  (Up to 50 people can be editing  the document at the same time.)  The beginning computer users had nothing to compare it to, but enjoyed the process of  writing and being able to see what others were simultaneously writing.

A continued issue I have with my 8:30 fifty-five minute technology class is latecomers wanting me to stop everything to integrate them into the task.  This causes me to lose time.  If I don’t stop and help them,  they ask a neighbor to catch them up causing the neighbor to get behind or lost.  I have had to close the door to late arrivals which has angered those who are late, yet those who make the effort to arrive on time are appreciative of my new policy.  I hope that those who have been consistently late will realize what they are missing and set their alarm clocks a little earlier rather than drop the class.

One bright side note is that we are two weeks into our six-week summer session, and I am still teaching paperlessly!  Technology allows me to do that, and I am grateful to be able to save trees this way.  When I explained this to my classes, they ceased asking me for handouts and were happy to know that any information they needed for my classes could be found electronically in Blackboard.

One Response

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shelly S Terrell. Shelly S Terrell said: Getting Students on Google Docs #edtech […]

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