Encouraging engagement in & out of the classroom with Google Docs – day 1


Google Drive/Docs

Welcome. The aim of these two short sessions is to introduce you to the free Google tools Google Docs, Forms, and Drive. We’ll begin to investigate how you might use them, as educators, to encourage engagement inside and outside the classroom. We will also look at how using Google Docs may change your working practice forever, particularly regarding shared documents and group work.

Difficulty rating of this course –

Can you open a Word document?  Can you log into your email?  Can you get on to the web?You’ll be OK then.

What is it?

A suite of free Microsoft Office (style) tools (plus lots of other useful things), made available to you online –  plus a 15 gigabyte private space to keep what you create and upload.

The exciting part (for me at least) is this: you can access and edit what you create, anywhere that has the internet – on your PC/Mac or on your tablet/phone, and you can give permission to people to view, or edit any of these things, and they can do that in real time.

‘So why is that exciting or even useful?’

Why would I use this?

It’s probably easier to explain this with real examples I’ve come across while working with Anglia Ruskin University staff:

EXAMPLE 1: Imagine you are collaborating on a book/document/spreadsheet/presentation with several people spread across our University, country, or even the planet.  How would you currently do that?  Usually you’d either have to email copies, keep track of versions, and have a mediator – or you’d have to organise a timetable to work on one document on a drive.  Google Docs allows you to work on the same document at the same time if you wish, and there’s only need for one document.

google 5

EXAMPLE 2: Say, you have a class of 70+ students (or 15 shy students), and you need to ascertain if they understood what you just said;  I’d say that’s almost impossible given the time constraints on a lecture.  Google Forms can allow you to do that, and it automatically puts the responses into a time-stamped Excel spreadsheet. It also automatically creates really nice graphs and charts, which you can display to your class as the results come in.

EXAMPLE 3: I was going to leave it at two examples, but I was recently asked by someone how they might gather thoughts, remarks, and maybe even web-links and pictures, during class. How might they display the results to the class, and save them to share later?  They were, at that time, writing notes down on a piece of paper, and taking a photograph of it. Does this sound familiar to you?  I was pleased to hear that they teach in a room like this:

google 7

If a Google Doc was created by yourself (it’s as easy as opening a Word doc), you could share it, and the class could all contribute to that document, live, at the same time. If you had that document open on the PC you’re using to lecture with, the results would appear on the whiteboard instantly.

The students wouldn’t have to be in a room like this; they could just as easily contribute using their phones or laptops. I might add, importantly, that if they wished to contribute to a Google Doc they’d either need to be on a computer/laptop of have an the free app on their phone/tablet.  Google Forms can be contributed to without apps.

Activity 1:

Let’s do something before we look into how to set this up.  Please click on this link to a Google I have on my Google Drive here, and leave me a message.  It could be just to say ‘hello’, or – even better – you could share a thought on this topic, or an idea of how you might use these tools. If you’re on a tablet or phone – then download the app that you should be prompted to use.

Google Drive

Google Drive is the online space you are given when you sign up. It’s a password protected place, and is basically a hard drive that lives on the web – you get 15 gigabytes of space.  You can upload things into it, or create things using the tools to store in there. You can then choose to share things you have created if you wish, and you can grant permission to edit them.

Activity 2:

You will need to set up a Google Account if you wish to have the tools and space – you may already have one as YouTube accounts are usually linked to Google Accounts. Click here to sign up.  Please note, if you share a Google Doc or Form with people THEY do not need an account to contribute to it.

Here’s a tutorial to help if you get stuck.

You DO NOT need to give them your phone number, by the way.

Once you’ve set up your account and logged in, you should see a group of squares at the top right of the screen. Click on it and you should see this:

goole 4

Click on ‘Drive’ and have look around. Have a play, try and create a new document.


Tomorrow we will look at Google Drive in more detail. We will look at creating a Google Form, and look into uses of the tools in Education.


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