Today in Web 2.0 class I took my students on an exploration of Google Docs to see the power they have at their fingertips to create, edit, and save files online....in the "cloud". We discussed the benefits to moving our files to the cloud - access from any Internet connected device...including mobile phones, secure file backup, intuitive organizing tools, as well as other things the students thought of. But the most powerful and important feature that we discussed was the ability that Google Docs gives its users to collaborate and share with others. Students saw the benefits of this when working with other peers on group projects and for sharing study guides and reflections when preparing for exams.
The video below is a great short explanation of what Google Docs is and how it can make its users more efficient and effective with their work. Most interesting is the brilliance the developers had when they switched the thinking around in regards to email attachments. Rather than sending email attachments back and forth with others when collaborating on a project, why not create one document in the cloud and give everyone you wish access to it. Now you can work simultaneously or at different times and see everyones edits immediately. I am now reconfiguring my class curriculum to incorporate the use of more Google Docs versus having students email me their work. With over 100 students per day emailing me I think I may be able to save at least an hour per day by moving to this format. Just go to my Google Doc "home" and check all the work right their one single document versus say.....34 student emails. Even if I just spend 1 minute per email this is a time costly practice so it is exciting to explore how this can better serve my classes while at the same time teach my students extremely relevant 21st century technology skills!