At first I thought they were a replacement for Microsoft Office with the bonus of being able to access them online from anywhere. I thought Google Docs was an online version of Word, Google Slides was an online version of PowerPoint and Google Sheets an online version of Excel. I was wrong - Google apps are ALIVE! Following Dr. Ruben Puentudura's SAMR model for integrating technology into the classroom (right) Google Apps were simply a substitution for me. Since using the Google apps with students and colleagues I have realised how much more they offer. The functionality of Google apps allows tasks to be transformed to the point of redefinition.
No need to duplicate. No need to duplicate.
We're all familiar with traditional documents being duplicated for every person who needs one: multiple copies of a meeting agenda, multiple copies of minutes, multiple copies of worksheets, data sheets and so on. I have discovered that with Google apps there is no need to ever duplicate a document. I simply share the document with anyone I want and they are able to enter the document with me. We can then edit it together.
It's Good to Share
Simply share the document with someone by entering their email or create a link that you can give to people. If you are sharing with students you can post the document to your Google Classroom. Gather people into your documents don't send your documents into the world where you can't see them develop.
"Comment is free..."
In my department we collaborate every day on schemes of work, lesson plans, data sheets etc. If we need to query anything with each other we simply highlight the area and click 'comment'. We can then discuss the content with each other in a conversation that runs down the side of the page. We then 'resolve' the comment when we are finished. This feature has become invaluable when giving students feedback and getting them to respond. If you want to alert a person to the fact you have commented you simply mention them in the comment by typing '+' and their email address.
Another cool feature within a comment is the ability to assign your comment to a particular person. So if you have typed an action point into an agenda and you want a certain person to run with this then you simple click 'assign' and send it to them. In your Google Drive you can then arrange files by what is assigned to you. This is so efficient for department meetings, leadership meetings and even with your class.
Want to work on a document with someone live? Most Google apps allow you to open an instant messenger within the document so you can chat live to everyone who has entered the doc. The potential for student collaboration or Q&A tutorials is exciting. Sometimes our department simply uses this feature to have a meeting when we physically can't be in the same room.
Whole lot of History
The option to view every change that has ever been made to a document, with a timestamp of when it happened, means your Google document is not only alive but is also available in every state of life it has ever been in, like some kind of Schrödinger's cat-alogue 😉.
Learn how to use these features and more by completing the free online Google for Education Training.