Our Educational Message

Hi, and welcome to our blog. This space is designed to share ideas and methodologies that we use to teach Turkish teenagers. In particular, there is a strong focus on ICT-ELT, which means if you like visual and technological support for your style of teaching, this blog is for you. My colleague, Brentson Ramsey, has been working alongside me for three years. He is also a big proponent of the ICT-ELT Paradigm, which means he will also be posting from his own teaching perspective on the blog.

2010 was the beginning of this new journey, and although there is no definitive ICT-ELT road map available for everyone to follow, it is exciting to explore the technological means to make teaching more fun and affective for students. Our main message is for teachers to ADOPT & ADAPT the paradigm shift for their own needs, and remember that

Friday, 2 November 2012

An Introduction to Google Docs

This post is going to start with one simple question, ‘What does Google mean to you?’  Over the past few days, I have asked colleagues and students alike this very same question.  While I did receive some different answers, such as Gmail and Google Chrome, the majority of the people questioned referred to Google as a tool for searching on the internet.  Granted, this was not a scientific study by any stretch of the imagination. I was just curious to see how many different kinds of answers I could get now that Google offers so many applications on the web and on our mobile phones.  Nonetheless, with an estimated 3 billion internet searches taking place on Google everyday, it is no wonder that is what it is still famous for since its inception in the late 90s.  Google, as a search engine, has simply become a part of our digital lives.  Even the verb 'to google’ is now officially recognized in the English language.

The goal of this and upcoming posts, however, is to tell you that Google is much more than just a search engine.  I would like to introduce to you a Google application that perhaps doesn’t get as much attention as its other programs, but one that is fast making headway in the field of education.  That is Google Docs.  Both teachers and students, to whom I have introduced Google Docs, have been amazed by the speed, the ease and the opportunity for increased collaboration not only between teacher and student, but also between the students themselves.  For instance, just have a quick look at what some teachers and students from the United States have to say about Google Docs...

Over the course of four posts, including this one, I would like to share some of the methods and activities that my colleague and I use in our ESL program with Google Docs.  I hope that, after reading this post, you can take something away with you and start to use Google Docs in your own classroom.  All you need to do first is sign up for a free Gmail account!


Making Lesson and Weekly Plans

When I first stumbled upon Google Docs, admittedly, my first thought was not about the students or what kind of assignments or projects they could do on it.  It was rather about how my colleague could collaborate faster and simpler when we are away from school. It may sound a bit selfish, but David and I lives miles apart, and it can be difficult trying to check each others' work. So, with that in mind, we first began using Google Docs for creating our weekly plans and essential questions.

Every weekend I make a brainstorm about the lessons and activities for the upcoming week. Indeed we have a yearly UbD plan that we follow, but as you know, things change and time needs to be readjusted from week to week. Therefore, we simply make a list of the major items we plan to teach that week. Before discovering Google Docs, the process of making the weekly plan went something like this : I made a Word document, opened up my email, attached the document to an email, and sent it to my colleague. He, in turn, opens his email, downloads the attachment, modifies the Word document as needed, then reattaches it to an email, and finally sends it back to me. In practice, it all seems pretty straightforward, but when you explain the entire process, you realize that there are way too many steps involved.

What if I told you that Google Docs can reduce these number of steps by at least half? Would you be interested? With Google Docs it goes like this: Again I make a document, but this time on Google Docs. Then, I simply share that document with my colleague, and automatically a notification is sent to him. My colleague then clicks on the link in his email box, modifies the document as needed, and that is it. All I have to do is open the document again, and all the changes made by my colleague have already been saved. 

Here is an example of a Google Document.
So what's missing? Well, with Google Docs, the major improvement is the process of attaching a document to an email and sending it has been removed. Therefore, your colleague doesn't have to download and send it back to you either. Everything is done in the cloud automatically. You see straightaway what your colleague has changed, and in fact, in one were so inclined, it is even possible to write the document at the same time with Google Docs! With whomever you share the document with, you can see what they are typing in real time!
Sharing is quick and doesn't even require sending an e-mail.

With Google Docs, even with only this one method of using it, just imagine the thousands of ways you can create, share and edit documents with your own colleagues. You could write lesson plans, draft letters to staff or parents, create worksheets for your students, make an online quiz, just to name a few. Granted, it may not have all the functions that Microsoft Word has, but all the basic functions are there. The huge benefit, however, is the time that you are certain to save and the improved teamwork between you and your colleagues!

Please stay tuned into the blog as the next blog post in this series will be about how you can use Google Docs with your students in the classroom!


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