Let’s just say the school division I work in hasn’t exactly embraced Google products. For a long time, the use of any Google product other than the search engine was restricted. This has slowly been opening up in the past two to three years, however we have been strongly cautioned against using this platform with our students– a ‘server issue’ as best I understand it.
I will admit that I’ve not followed this decree, in a use-at-your-own-risk type scenario. I had used Google Docs with a class of Grade 10 students as soon as the Google gates began to crack open in our district, and by the time the “do not use” edict had been officially issued, I was already convinced that this was a super important platform for not only student writing in my English and Social Studies classes, but for student collaboration on products.
The best part about students using Google Docs, is that ALL excuses about finishing an essay at home immediately disappear because I have students share their document with me the moment they create it. No Microsoft Word on your mom’s Mac book? No printer? Printer ran out of ink? No USB drive for saving? Your email account doesn’t work so you couldn’t send it? You worked on it all night and you forgot to save it? — All of these excuses cease to exist once students use Google Docs and share the document with their teacher.
Apparently my students agree on the usefulness of Google Docs.
I was struck by this a few weeks ago when I assigned an essay to my 11th grade English class. As the majority of the students in this non-academic English class had not used Google Docs in grade 10, I chose to use what they were accustomed to: Microsoft Word. While Google Docs/Drive is an excellent solution for schools, having students set up accounts and learn to use Google Drive in an environment where students DON’T have school Google accounts to start with is a time-consuming process. See a post I wrote about a year ago related to this topic.
As the majority of the class was setting up their Word document, a few students asked if they couldn’t just use Google Docs. Although I didn’t realize it until later, all the students who wanted to use Google Docs were those had been stuck with me in Grade 10 and used Google Docs regularly. In fact, every student that I had taught before wrote their essay in Google Docs. To them, it just made the most sense to use Google Docs –they could easily finish at home or even on their phone if needed.
I dream of a day in my school division where the Google platform for education will be embraced. All students graduating from our high schools should be experiencing the power of this online platform to prepare them for the careers they are entering.