Google Docs is the application that Google Apps seems most well known for. More than just a basic word processor, Docs provides a space to connect and collaborate in real-time (something Microsoft is finally doing with Office 365.) It includes such features as the ability to import and export a range of formats, extend communication through comments and chat, work across platforms, including the ability to work offline, add text via voice, edit Microsoft Word (originally via Quickoffice), as well as build documents and add to a range of templates found within a gallery. Going a step further, there are also a range of add-ons which allow you to do everything from create a bibliography to making a flowchart.
Some possible uses for Google Docs include:
- Digital Workbook: One of the greatest benefits of Docs (and Google Apps) is the ability to move to a paperless classroom.
- Collaborative Writing: Docs makes cooperative learning more doable, providing the means for interdependance.
- Administration: Whether it be taking minutes or sharing curriculum documents, Docs provides the means to organise such work.
An interesting example of the use of Google Docs is in the creation of HyperDocs. A cross between Thinglink and a webquest, a HyperDoc is a document which incorporates different interactive features, such as graphic organisers and linked content. In its basic form, it can be conceived as a digital worksheet. However, as with all technology, it has the possibility of amplifying preexisiting practices, providing a means to structure self-directed learning. As Highfill, Hilton and Landis explain,
A true HyperDoc is much more than some links on a document. Digital collaboration is choreographed through the inclusion of web tools that give every student a voice and a chance to be heard by their classmates. Critical thinking and problem solving skills can be developed through linked tasks that ask for authentic products to be created and shared digitally.
Some of the benefits for using HyperDocs include:
- Deeper Engagement: With the interactive nature of such documents, students are unable to move on without actually clicking through. This is often provided through scavenger hunts.
- Additional Resources: Through the use of links, HyperDocs provides a means of providing additional stimulus and resources,
- More Cooperative Learning: Provides the means of working collaborative, as well as independently, whether this be completing a personal copy through Google Classrooms or adding to shared content.
Here then is four steps to creating a HyperDoc:
- Identify area of learning: This might be a skill or a point of understanding.
- Choose a structure of learning: This involves two steps, firstly choreographing the learning task (see templates) and secondly how this might look as a series of documents.
- Incorporate different content: Hyperdocs involve links to a range of different content, from videos to Forms
- Publish document: This might involve simply sharing a link or could be done through Google Classroom. As people will be adding content, it is important to think about how this will be done.
Here are some additional resources for Google Docs:
Google Docs Cheat Sheet - Anintroduction by Kasey Bell covering all the key features
The Best 10 Google Docs Tips For Teachers As They Go Back To School - Joshua Lockhart provides a good list of suggestions as to how to use Google Docs to support you in the classroom, including providing creative feedback and giving access to resources.
Google Docs began as a hacked together experiment, says creator - Ellis Hamburger interviews Sam Schillace, the man behind Writerly, the text-editor that became Google Docs, and discusses some of the challenges faced in the process.
12 Free Add-Ons That Take Docs and Sheets to the Next Level - A collection of useful add-ons, including the ability to add a signature and translate text.
6 Powerful Google Docs Features to Support the Collaborative Writing Process - Susan Oxnevad unpacks the writing process highlighting the many benefits of collaboration.
Google Docs Templates - A collection of templates that users can access, as well as add to.
Voice Typing - A discussion of voice typing and how it can be used to support learning.
Hyperdocs - A resource created by Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton and Sarah Landis unpacking everything associated with Hyperdocs.
Hyperdoc Tour - An example of a hyperdoc whcih provides a tour of some features associated
HyperDocs - Changing Digital Pedagogy - A collection of hyperdoc lessons from a range of subjects and year levels.
Full disclosure: I have not received compensation of any kind for mentioning the products or services mentioned in this post. I was not solicited to write this post and I have no relationship with any of the companies mentioned.