Techie Tuesday: Google Docs

How to use Google Docs in your class tomorrow (using an iPad or computer)

During the past few years I’ve had the chance to try out Google Docs as a collaborative tool with my students.  Group work is a breeze when everyone can work together simultaneously!

Google Docs isn’t always perfect:  

  • If a student starts typing without paying attention to where their cursor is, they’ll type over somebody else’s words.
  • It can be frustrating when someone accidentally deletes everything, although it’s a simple fix (more information below).
  • Finally, when they share the doc with another student, they have to type in their email address if they’re not already in their contacts list, which can take up five minutes alone!

However, those are merely minor inconveniences compared to how useful of a tool it is. 

How Google Docs improves learning and productivity:

  • Students could write collaboratively, such as a group summary, brainstorm, or report
  • Collaborate with other teachers for lesson planning. My PLC recently used this as we researched motivational quotes. We all contributed to the same note, which saved time and effort.
  • Students (and teachers!) can collaboratively take notes together and share with someone who is absent (or has a broken hand or is visually impaired).
  • Also, if a student is absent and has wifi access at home, they can still participate in a group activity if they’re sharing a Google Doc together

How to share a document and collaborate

  • In the app (or web), create your document by selecting the red plus sign and name it
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  • When you’re in the new document, select the Share button in the upper right-hand corner (It looks like a profile of a person with a plus sign)
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  • Type in the name of the person you want to collaborate with, making sure to give them editing privileges. NOTE: Students in our district can only collaborate with other students in the district.
  • Select “Share”
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  • The recipient will need to check their email and click on the shared link.
  • When that person joins, you’ll see their name as they type in the document, and their cursor will have a different color than yours.
  • When you type, your name will appear on their screen too!
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  • To submit the assignment, the students should put all of their names on the doc to receive credit. Then one person selects the Share button, then “Copy link to clipboard”. From there, they can submit the link in Jupitergrades or email it directly to you.
  • NOTE: students cannot collaborate on PDFs or Pages files. If you save a file as a Microsoft Word document to your Google Drive, you can give students the Google Drive link, and they can open it in the Docs app and collaborate.

What if someone deletes all of the work by accident?

  • If they catch it before closing out of the doc, they can just select the Undo arrow.
  • If not, then use a computer and have one of the students login to Google Docs and open the shared doc. Select File>See revision history, and you can revert to a past version of the file. You can also see who deleted it!


Using this way is just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless articles singing the praises of all of the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) and how they can be easily integrated into your classroom.

I’m so glad that Google has finally found a way to make their apps more friendly for iOS, so I’m definitely a believer!

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