Google Docs is part of the Google “Family” of applications. If you have a gmail account, you can use all of the other Google resources with your same log-in information. If you want a quick overview of how it works, check out this Google Docs in Plain English video.
Google docs is a word processing program, much like Microsoft word, but it does so much more. It allows you to share documents with others for them to view and edit.
For example, lets say I have made a list of famous artists I think all teachers in our district should be teaching about, but I want to get their opinions on what artists they would like to include. Instead of sending this list out in an email, and getting 10 replies back and trying to sort through all of their opinions, I can simply put it in a google doc, and “share” this doc with the other teachers. They can access and edit the doc I made, make changes (each members shows up in a different color) and save. Then, the next time I open up this doc, I can view their change and along with everyone else who this doc is shared with.
Our department has used google docs to plan art shows, to come up with a team mission statement and also to share lesson plans or assessment ideas. Remember, I am the facilitator for our district, so implementing strategies for understanding and sharing curriculum is part of my job.
Here is a sample of one of our lesson sharing presentations in Google Docs. Each person uploads their own photos to one place we can all view.
Here is another sample of sharing assessment ideas and theories. Each person added their two cents, and put their initials behind their ideas, then we highlighted for common themes to help us come to a conclusion that was fair. It worked great!
By using google docs, we have just eliminated email clutter, increased collaboration with one another, and utilized a free program to save our district some money! The feedback from all of the teachers has been very positive. Everyone felt as though their opinions were heard, and teachers found it very easy to set up an account and use this program. I think we will be using google docs in the future for many different collaborative things. I heart the entire Google family of applications and will probably be bragging them up more in posts to come.
Even if you are the only art teacher in your district, you could still use Google Docs to collaborate with other educators, your principal, students or even art teachers from other districts. Sharing ideas with each other is so powerful, and technology has the wonderful ability to connect us all if we embrace it.
Try it out and let me know how it goes!