In a nutshell, Google Docs is an information storage (which currently runs through the Google Drive platform) and sharing application which all internet users can benefit from, particularly gmail users. It can easily be accessed from any standard gmail account, and it allows the user to create, upload, download, share (even through facebook and twitter) and collaborate with other users in the editing process of a text, spread sheet, power point-like presentation, draw or survey. What I consider a huge advantage over more traditional storage devices such as usb memory sticks, is its potential access through any computer anywhere in the world at all times. It includes private or public visibility to documents at users’ discretion and the application saves a document automatically while it is being created, which is a big plus in backing up important information. Though there are a few skills that teachers should acquire to be able to use this application in class successfully, I believe it is fairly easy to use.

The first idea that crosses my mind on how to use this application in a collaborative classroom, is simply related to team-based project information and time management. Telecommuting can be set to practice among students who need to meet to be able to work on a project together. Google Drive would give them access to their files and students could work from home on the same document  at the same time. This type of meeting could always be complemented with the use of Skype if discussion among participants is needed.

This application could also be an important part of collaborative writing exercises inside the classroom or outside of it. This video shows a teacher using the application in his classroom to have his students work on a writing exercise together. Before the lesson, he creates a class worksheet which all of his students can access from their computers. Students are responsible for working on this task individually before coming to the lesson. As a class activity, the teacher shares his own document on the smartboard or the overhead projector and he has students work on the text and correct or add on each other’s previous individual work. At the end, the whole class has gained valuable feedback, benefited from every other classmate’s knowledge, and left the classroom with a feeling of accomplishment and sense of achievement.

Another idea that I particularly like, is the one of creating student notebooks. These notebooks are documents that may resemble writing journals, which students can read and edit at home as part of a long-term class project. The teacher might be able to edit these documents as well, in order to give students feedback, corrections, and promote discussion. Though the idea might appear similar to the creation of a blog, these comments and corrections from the teacher or even other students, may represent an interactive advantage.

As discussed in this Google Hangout on “Using Google Docs for Peer Collaboration”, I think that students would enjoy interactive tasks linked to reading activities using this application. It would allow them to form a “reading circle” where they may discuss a text, share their ideas and analysis, and gain insight from each other’s different understanding of a book or article.

I am certainly going to explore some of these ideas for my own personal development.