Using GoogleDocs with Computing classes

I have been experimenting with GoogleDocs since my colleague Linzie Stephenson introduced me to them late last year. As I’ve tried out forms as a method of gathering feedback from my classes, then later in the session the other types of documents available within GoogleDocs I wanted to share the benefits of using this collaborative tool with your own classes.

Signing up for GoogleDocs

This can’t be easier. To access GoogleDocs and 1Gb of file storage space all you need is a GoogleMail or GMail account. As I use this with my classes and wanted to keep contact strictly formal I set up an account for education only. This allows me to keep my work and friends & family separate!


Once you have your mail account simply go to and get started!

Forms for feedback

Since I started teaching I’ve been careful to get the students’ feedback to improve the course. I began with ‘rant sheets’ which were anonymous scraps of paper where each pupil had the chance to comment on lesson enjoyment, teaching style, environment and finally a free rant which usually resulted in complaints about air conditioning or seats. Every term there was at least one suggestion that was actioned and this gave pupils encouragement to carefully consider their feedback. The one drawback with the paper based rant sheets was the admin time collating and categorising, so I felt this was something which could be improved through use of GoogleDocs.


Forms have very basic but useful aggregation tools which create pie charts from multiple choice questions. During last session I was involved in helping turn a 20 yo bullying questionnaire into an online version using Google Forms. Used with every S1 pupil at the school this change has saved duplication costs as well as increased the number of usable returns.


These forms can also be embedded in websites and blog posts. When my S3 classes started in June I used a Google Form to survey their S1/2 ICT experiences as well as quickly find out which teachers to approach regarding their individual progress.


Uploading files and sharing

In June this year I asked all S5/6 Computing pupils to sign up for a GMail account and then begin to upload all their classwork to GoogleDocs. The aim of this was simple, reduction of paperwork for the pupil AND the teacher! At the moment the pupils type up their work in Microsoft Word, then upload the file which is converted to Google’s Word Processor file type. They then choose to share their work with me on a view or edit permission basis.


I can instantly see a list of files shared with me during that lesson and during the summary call up examples of pupil answers instead of taking answers from the floor. I don’t think I’ll always make use of this but it is nice to have an alternative when classes turn shy.

I can also provide computer-based 1:1 feedback in two ways. If the pupil has allowed me edit privaledges on their file I can add comments straight into their document which they can instantly see on their computer. If the pupil only lets me view their file I can still provide feedback via GMail.

The added benefit to pupils is that if they can access a computer with an Internet connection they can use their GoogleDocs account for revision. As well as sharing files with me I can also share files with them including sample exam answers and collaborative revision notes.

You will find that your GoogleDocs account fills up very quickly with pupil files so I spent some time setting up folder structures for each class. The interface doesn’t make it easy but it is possible with perseverence. Now when a pupil shares a file with me I move it to their named folder and at a click can see a record of their work.


I also asked pupils to document their Visual Basic programming tasks via GoogleDocs and share with me, the progress of the class helps me plan next steps or interventions and already it has resulted in investigating user interface design more closely.

I’m really intersted in hearing how other educators use GoogleDocs with their own classes. Please post a comment below, via Twitter (@familysimpson) or why not share a GoogleDoc?


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