Fun and games with GoogleDocs – further reflections

My last post “Fun and games with GoogleDocs” was written to reflect on my own practice before delivering training in school. Following the post and the training session I have had a lot of questions or queries from teachers (both in school and online), so I thought I might address a few of these collectively.

1. How do you get good at GoogleApps?

Play. Play. Play. GoogleApps like most software these days doesn’t require a textbook or instruction manual, it requires a few hours of messing about and clicking around. The faster all professionals realise this is the best way to learn ICT the better. Yes, you will get stuck as there are a few things which initially are confusing (e.g. which is the best share settings?) but the joy of GoogleApps is that if this happens simply ‘Google’ your problem and no doubt a few hundred others will have had the same issue and someone will have posted a solution, or better, someone from the immensely capable GoogleApps team will have.

2. What problems have you run into using this with classes?

My last post was written to mark the successes I’ve had, but I have also had loads of problems, but isn’t learning from your mistakes one of the best ways to learn? Here’s some of the problems I have had and my solutions:

a) Students writing swear words or deleting others work. This has happened from Year 7 to Year 13 (who immediately changed General Comments to Genital Comments in a document last week!). This is obviously one of the downsides of giving kids edit access to any document. But misbehaviour in a GoogleDoc is the same as any other behaviour issue in your class. Lay your groundrules down and stick with it. In this case I explained the consequences to the kids concerned and within 5 minutes it had stopped.

b) Students use it to chat like MSN etc. Simultaneously updating a live document is new and interesting and everyone will want to initially add comments like “Hi Steve” or “Rich smells“. This has happened from Year 7 to my recent faculty meeting. Its natural as its an amazing tool. However this novelty wears off very quickly. Give students a few minutes to get over it and then get them to crack on with the task. Students, like adults, also need time to play to gain familiarity with the medium.

c) It can be very slow. If you are using IE or even Firefox on an older computer GoogleApps can be slow. However, get your technicians to install Chrome and the difference is really noticeable. This problem will no doubt get worse as Google are stopping support for their products on IE and Firefox next year, so do the swap to Chrome now!

Anyone else had any other problems, let me know and in particular the solution you found. Sharing problems is the only way we can all avoid them!

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