After checking out some the links about Google Docs, I can see how beneficial this application can be.
Creating and then collaborating on presentations, documents, or spreadsheets allows for many ideas to come together and to be shared with colleagues of common interests. I can see how valuable Google Docs might be when working with teachers from other schools or even within the same school but from a different classroom or building. The idea that we can edit material without being connected to the same local server or having to send documents back and forth to each other through email seems as if it might be the “no-brain” way to go!
I can work on presentations or documents from either home or school without the worry of saving to a flashdrive or server. I do my lesson plans using Excel and saving to Google Docs makes it easier for me to access my plans from wherever I may be.
This is a little more difficult for me to justify. From what I understand, students would have to have email accounts to set up a Google account. Not all students have emails. I also read that Google Account users must be 13 years or older? This poses a problem for use with my 5th grade classroom. High school students may get a lot more use from this application. I like the idea of working through the writing process on a document that can be shared and then edited by classmates. I use peer editing often in my classroom, and could see how this tool could be advantageous. Again, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a classroom wiki that I believe is also a great way to allow students to collaborate and even edit projects or papers created and written by each other. Wikispaces allows teachers to set up usernames and passwords for students without an email account. Check out my classroom wiki (I’m still working on it!) http://www.mrstillmanwiki.wikispaces.com/ If anyone has any ideas, just let me know!
Yes, there are many advantages to using Google Docs, but there are also disadvantages. Besides younger students not having access due to age or lack of an email address, important documents are being saved to a public server that could be lost or eventually become unavailable. I have also noticed that some of my Excel spreadsheets, when uploaded to Google Docs, lose some of its formatting. This leads me to believe there may be some compatibility issues.
Overall though, I like Google Docs and have used it in the past. It is still yet another great Web 2.0 tool that can be used to move our educational institutions into that collaborative global community we are seeking.