Google Docs in the classroom


I randomly modified an activity in class the other day to get students to post their answers into a google spreadsheet that all students could simultaneously access and modify. (I have posted a live view of a brief section of the students adding their data). This was initially going to be completed as a table in their workbooks.

The task involved students researching a certain food and looking for both positive and negative information about the specific food. They then had to express their opinion on what place that food should take in a balanced diet.

I thought overall the activity was worthwhile and provided some interesting moments. The students overall seemed to enjoy sharing their information in this way and were very engaged throughout. They researched swiftly to be able to enter something into the spreadsheet and found it useful not to have to write it all out but to be able to read the other area that people had completed.

Then came the fun and games – one student posted a question ‘what is soy?’ to try and clarify what soy actually is, and this seemed to open the flood gates into random postings. This question in itself was great and it was good that a students was able to ask a question in this forum to be clarified. A few short minutes later though students were posting all sorts of random comments into the spreadsheet and I ended up locking them out as it stopped being productive and we had enough information to being with our next task. 

Did the random postings begin because they had finished their work and were passing time or is this the way they are used to using such technologies and forums?? I am keen to try something similar again to see the way the activity develops and see if the tool proves a benefit or distraction and look at some ways to ensure learning remains the focus of the activity.

took this screenshot with jing – great little screen capturing tool!


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