Google Apps is a tremendous platform for facilitating online collaboration in your classroom, or beyond. It is freely available on the Web, and if you are familiar with other word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation programs, you can easily use Google Docs. The chat feature on presentations makes it possible to create a “permeable classroom” by bringing experts into a lesson to interact with students online.

Here are some benefits of Google Docs:

  • It is available from anywhere and anytime with an Internet connection.
  • Instead of emailing files back and forth, Google Docs allows people to work on a single version of a document online.
  • There is no need to download software or worry about conflicting software versions.
  • You and your students can collaborate with Google Docs in real-time, or asnychronously.
  • Its tools and basic services are free.
  • You can see student work in progress as it is happening and provide real-time feedback.
  • You can see who edited a document, what they edited, and when they edited it.
  • Every Google Docs you view is the latest version of that document.

Note: Google Docs in part of Google Apps, a suite of tools that also includes Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, and Google Sites (for web page creation). The Google Apps suite is available with any free Google account. Also, school technology leaders can explore registering with Google for hosting all of their email communication. Google makes this available to schools and universities for free. Check out Google Apps for Education for more information.

For more information on using Google Apps in the classroom, make sure you take a look at our Teaching History with Technology site. A few of our featured examples include:

  • The Great Immigration Debate, a lesson designed to help students study a topic related to patterns in immigration history, while gathering and analyzing data using primary source materials.
  • Writing for Context, a lesson in which students will write a newsletter about their classroom for the purpose of sharing the knowledge they have gleaned from their studies.
  • Biomes, a lesson in which students present a link between a biome’s geographical features, climate, wildlife, plant life, and human inhabitants.
  • Ancient Egypt, a group Google Presentation by students in a Georgia classroom.
  • Islamic Architecture, a Google Document resource created by students.