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Online collaborative areas can 'encourage students to be communication and producers of knowledge and opinions rather than only recipients of information' (Renninger, 2002. p106). GoogleDocs provides a collaborative platform where all students can share their knowledge and ideas in a shared area or can work together in groups to create group presentations or documents.

What is Google Docs?
Google Docs is a free web-based area that provides a platform to create, store and share a variety of documents: word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, forms and drawings. Each type of document allows users to create and edit the same document online in real-time with other users.

The following video provides a brief overview of the collaborative potential of Google Docs:



Why use Google Docs?

Google Docs is a powerful collaborative area to enable the management and organisation of collaborative learning to occur in one shared place where users can interact with the same documents to share ideas rather than send the same document back and forward via email. It allows students to work on the same document synchronously (at the same time) or asynchronously (at a different time) to enable collaborative working and knowledge construction. When managing and organising learning it is easier to create one shared document where contributors can type their name or option beside the event or action they wish to attend or support. The benefit of this method to the traditional email method is that the organiser is freed from dealing with the influx of emails and lets the Google Doc manage the responses.

Examples of using Google Docs:

Creating a collaborative Word document related to Handheld Learning in Education with each student focussing on a specific aspect:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Pq9stUa3WKgHhMicQTX0ZkO8wuaAvOXBEUiPhWeMgQ0/edit?hl=en&authkey=COuY9f0D

Using Google Doc Spreadsheets to collate students' ideas across two Programmes:

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApG0O9ZMxnvEdG1wZ2ItQ1N1SmVOUmZmTkpva3FZUnc&hl=en
Using Google Doc PowerPoint to create together:
https://docs.google.com/present/edit?id=0AZG0O9ZMxnvEZHdtcjVmY183MWNja2tkZGRt&hl=en_GB&authkey=CLec9Z0N


The following Top Ten reasons for using Google Docs with some students in Higher Education was taken from Primary Student Teachers on the BEd Programme who shared their responses in a collaborative document at:

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApG0O9ZMxnvEdFFQT1NCQkl2eTZCWG4wU0VRUlhwZmc&hl=en&authkey=CJ6kyoMC

Top Ten Reasons:
Not restricted to working in same location and at same time.
Can work together in real-time and use the chat tool to discuss aspects and the main document to create.
Tutors can have an overview of progressing work and involvement in group planning for self-directed tasks
Makes managing and organising students' responses easier.
Small groups can work together to create collaborative PowerPoint with all members contributing at the same time or in different locations and time.
A private copy can also be made and annotated or adjusted to suit the needs of the individual.
Many users can create presentations together; this can include involving other professionals out with the institution.
Create questionnaires and send link to students. Responses all stored in one area rather than using a different tool.
A place to share knowledge with the crowds rather than store in 'My Documents'. Students are able to generate ideas and share these with others. This can provide a source of inspiration.
Provides an instantly accessible point of information and ideas that won't be lost if you have a computer issue.



How To Use Google Docs (Collaborative Spreadsheet)

the following provides a quick start guide how to create a collaborative spreadsheet.

1. You will need to create an account to use Google Doc (If you have a Youtube of Google Account this can be used).

2. Once you have created an account an signed in, select 'Create new' and 'Spreadsheet' from the drop down menu.

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3. Give your Spreadsheet a name by selecting the 'Save Now' button at top right of sheet and typing name in box that appears.

4. Place titles that you want users to respond to.


Headings.jpg


5. To share the document with others select the 'Share' button at top right of spreadsheet and select 'Sharing Settings' from the drop down menu.

6. You have the option to share by sending an email to recipients by placing their email addresses in the 'Add people' box. If a large number of people are required to view this document select the 'Change' link.


sharin.jpg



7. You now have options regarding how you wish to share this document. Select 'Anyone with the link' then select 'Allow anyone to edit' if you want the viewer to be able to contribute to the document. These settings can always be changed. Select 'Save' when complete.


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8. You will now be provided with a link to send to all users. If a user clicks on the link and it asks for a username and password, ask the user to copy and paste the link into their web browser for document to open.


To find out more about Google Docs watch the video demonstrations on Youtube's Google Doc area or contact Sharon Tonner to find out how to use Google Docs to their full potential in the learning environment (s . a . tonner @ dundee . ac . uk).