Educators have heard every excuse in the book from students on how their homework magically disappeared over night, whether the assignment was taken home or left in their locker. The dreaded, evil homework fairy must have a grudge against the student to prevent them from turning in so many assignments. This is yet just one situation that will be changing because of technology!

Being able to complete assignments using word processing programs on a computer is nothing new for students. This has been happening for about 25 years now. However, a few years ago Google Docs started branching out into the classrooms across the globe. For many schools, this has been a game-changer already because Google Docs is a free web-based word processing, presentations, and spreadsheets program.

The key with Google Docs is being web-based. It has become revolutionary for classroom assignments and homework. The students’ documents are all stored safely in Google’s servers, and it automatically saves their work. No longer do they have to stop working on an essay to save it, it does it for you! Students can share their documents with others in a group or with the teacher. It is possible for many people to be working on the same document at the same time, but in different locations across the globe. And each person will be able to see what the rest are doing to the document.

Google Docs is one way to ensure a total paperless classroom. It is accessible through the Google Chrome web browser, and for the good majority of us, it is free when signing in with your Gmail account. Students are having their accounts created usually by the school technology coordinator. The accounts can be signed in to regardless of what device is being used. Students can access it on their phones, laptops, desktops, iPads, and other tablets. People can use it at school, at home, on the road, or on vacation through any device! Students that are absent for one reason or another can still keep up with what is happening in the classroom.

The problem previously faced by students working on something at school was having to save it on a thumb drive to finish it at home or vice-versa. Then the student would hope that their computer at home and the one at school were compatible enough to allow them to work on the document. No thumb drive or any other memory device is needed anymore.

Google Docs has provided students that previously struggled with assignments a way to succeed. They have included templates with all their web-based word processing, presentations, and spreadsheets programs. It provides the proper formatting needed for the style of report that the student has to complete. For instance, their word processing program has hundreds of templates including essays, book reports, class notes, and newsletters that can be used immediately in the classroom without having to spend important time on correct formatting.

Their presentation app named Google Slides will have junior high and high school students presenting projects to the class that will rival the best college students’ work. In this ever-changing world where technology is now hand-in-hand with education, we are providing our students an advantage that all of us didn’t have even twenty years ago. A presentation is much more exciting and interesting using technology rather than poster boards, cutout pictures from magazines, and markers.

How educators use Google Docs is only limited by their own imagination. All subjects can be brought to life much more with this technology.

Art: Students could put together presentations on their favorite artist along with pictures of the artwork.
Reading: Book reports and peer editing would be simple to do! How about doing a bit more research and report on their favorite author as well?
Maths: Tables, graphs, and spreadsheets have never been easier!
History: Students could research and present the main causes and the effects of all the important main events in history! Pictures and animations could be included in mere minutes!
English: Peer editing and instant feedback can be done instantaneously. Students can be paired up on essays without even having to be in the same class!
Science: Science projects can come to life with Google Slides. Animals, plants, clouds, insects, etc…

If a school is not currently using Google Docs, then it is a huge disadvantage to their students. Teachers sometimes use the same material year after year in the classroom because it is convenient for them. We all remember our first year or two in teaching and having to start from scratch. It is not easy to do, and it is very time consuming. Learning new ways to present information to your class can make the bravest instructors apprehensive. Especially when it involves newer technology. However, it is our duty as educators to provide the best education possible for our students, and that includes using 21st century technology!