In the first week of the Chromebooks, any writing assignments I had students do were completed within our Edublogs Digital Portfolio environment.
Today I ended up with an experiment. Since the Chromebooks are conveniently sitting in my classroom, I had my English students use them for a fairly short writing assignment. Previously this year, I have had them do any writing less than an essay in length on paper, rather than go through the torture (for both myself and the students) of trying to login to Word in Office 365 on the iPads.
In the first class, I had them try and use Word through Office 365. When I had tested this, I thought that the login would be accomplished through an icon on the login screen. However in class today, this was not the case, so I had immediate chaos. Fortunately, I was a quick thinker today and quickly diverted them to the Office 365 Student login link available through the PRSD home page which was staring at them in the Chrome browser. Looking back, ALL students were able to successfully login to Office 365 without any error messages –that is a first for my classes. Once in Word (which we have used several times in class on the iPads, so there was some level of familiarity) we named the document and wrote a title in the document. Word is very ‘finicky’ and it doesn’t take much for a student to end up with a new document, or in an offline or different version. Eventually students got to composing, but overall it was still somewhat chaotic getting set up to write in a tool that they have already used several times!
Since I teach the same class in back to back periods, I sometimes do some experimenting. After the non-slick use of Office 365, I quickly decided an experiment was in order!
There is a Google Docs icon on the bottom of the login screen on the new Chromebooks. In the next class, we tried Google Docs, which the majority of student have NOT used before. Of course it is a beautiful thing that they are already logged into Google through the Chromebooks, so they were all quickly in a Google Doc. The document naming and titling was much more efficiently accomplished that it was in Word. I also had time to have the students share the document with me –this process is exceedingly more straightforward in Docs than Word, and was successfully accomplished without glitches, even though the students had to type my whole email address (ie. it didn’t auto populate).
For today’s experiment, Google Docs wins hands down! It is just so much more simple and straight forward. I know that the Google experiment was successful by the lack of whining which often happens when students experience something “new”. Google Docs was so slick that it didn’t even feel new or different.
The next experiment will be how much effort it takes to find and retrieve and finish the documents that we began typing. Stay tuned for a “Round 2” update….