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Instructor Seminar Series: Google Docs interview

March 20, 2012 by Theresa Pesavento

Chad Shorter, Timmo Dugdale, and John Martin are Learning Technology Consultants for DoIT Academic Technology. Here are a few excerpts from Chad's recent email interview with Timmo and John:
Chad:  The University now has a service agreement with Google that's more friendly for Higher Ed uses of Google Docs (protecting ownership and usage rights).  I know you're excited to see Google Apps, in general, used more.  How about Google Docs?  What types of learning goals do you think Google Docs can help you achieve?

Timmo:  Certainly group collaboration, iterative writing, and student critiques all can benefit from Google Docs.  Seeing revisions and contributions on a document are helpful in the process of evaluating each member's contribution.  Group writing and student feedback are the most common ways I've seen Google Docs being used.

Chad:  John, you've used Google Docs for freshman course that you taught.  What did you do?

John:  [I] love Google Docs for collaborative writing. Rather than collect students' drafts in Word (and lose them on my laptop), I collected them in Docs. I was able to give them feedback on their document, and even have a "chat" with one who happened to be on it as I was checking it. That made it easier for me to give them feedback, and it was more direct because there was no passing back and forth documents. There was no losing documents either. After I wrote up the feedback, I made a copy (in Docs) of the draft for my records so I could check it (if needed) when I got the final copy to recall the changes I requested. I was also able to use my renamed copy as a note to myself that I got and checked all their drafts -- no losing them in the shuffle. A number of the students in that class also used Docs to peer edit each others' drafts. They then shared their edits with me, so I could comment on the peer editing. This was optional, but next time I will require it.
Chad:  Is there any particular instructional use case for Google Docs that you're excited about?

Timmo:  Facilitating group work is the most useful aspect.  Being able to chat and write in a live environment where everyone is seeing what is being added solves the problem of getting everyone in a physical space at the same time.

Chad:  Any thoughts on other ways that Google Docs could be used?  

John:  I envision further use of Docs in student collaborative note-taking by study groups: one tries to get down the main points, but the others can fill in missed details. Then, when studying, they access the same document, and have a greater opportunity (via synchronous and asynchronous chat and comments) to ask each other questions about
the content.
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