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A collection of helpful articles on teachers and teaching

What If I Say Pretty Please? (Getting My Colleagues to Use Google Docs)

About four years ago, I set up two Google Apps domains at my school.  I just kind of did it, under the “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than seek permission” model of technology implementation.  It’s free, and it wasn’t going to hurt anyone.  My students already had Google.net e-mail, so I did not enable the Gmail piece for their domain.  The staff was curious (at best) when I demonstrated Google Docs to them, but it never really went anywhere.

Calendar with PencilI’ve used Google Docs and Sites with my students for a few projects in the computer lab, but I have not really pushed it beyond my classroom.  This past fall, we began the school year with the staff fully transitioned to Google Apps for our staff e-mail.  Some of the teachers have excitedly jumped in to using Docs with their students.  The administrators, media resource specialist, technology specialist, and I have began a covert operation of pretty much using Calendars and Docs for anything meeting-related to get these apps in front of the faculty more regularly.  Still, it’s not the epidemic of enthusiasm I hoped would spread through our teaching staff.

What I really want is for my middle school teachers, especially those teaching Literature and English, to embrace Google Docs as a time-saving, back-restoring tool that can spell doom to stacks of papers that travel back and forth between school and home in the endless grading dance.  The students already know how to use Google Apps.  It wouldn’t be a stretch to have them all create a document and share it with their English teachers.

I am going to try saying pretty please in the coming weeks.  And then, if that falls on deaf ears, I am contemplating just such a student-led coup d’etat.  Ooh. I just got an idea.

I think I will create a Google Document in which I ask one question: “What are some assignments you currently have students write by hand or type for your classes?”  And then I will add my colleagues as editors.  I will even say “pretty please” in the invitation e-mail they receive when I add them as collaborators.

Dear reader, do YOU use Google Docs with students?  I’d love to hear your success stories.  I envision a near-paperless classroom in which teachers can comment and make revision suggestions any time of day or night as a student is still working on a writing assignment.  I also think this opens up some great possibilities for peer editing.  Of course, some ground rules would need to be established.  Comments only (no revising) perhaps?

Google Docs logo image from Flickr user Kinologik (Martin Lafrance), some rights reserved, Creative Commons.
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