Google Docs: Not just documents any more

I “meet” regularly with a fellow doc student to share writing and give and receive feedback. Yesterday, I uploaded her piece into GDocs and commented there. When our call took place, we went to the doc and referred to it throughout our conversation. Suddenly the entire tenor of our conversation shifted. It was no longer just two people looking at feedback on Word documents that we’d emailed to each other. Suddenly the documents became alive, a third member of the conversation.

Our conversation did not proceed in the usual linear fashion, either. We moved and and down the document, making points, adding text, crossing out sentences. We weren’t just giving feedback, we were collaborating on it.
Then she uploaded my piece into GDocs, complete with comments. The same thing occurred, plus I ended up uploading two other chunks of the document, the chunk preceding the piece I’d shared, and the chunk I thought would follow. What started as feedback on a piece of writing evolved into a conversation about the direction of entire section of my dissertation proposal.

Both of us took notes right on the documents– oh, the different colors that splash across the pages!

Google Docs is now true in more ways than one– we are the Google Docs-tudents who happen to be using GDocs  on this astonishing, sometimes frustrating dissertation journey.

It makes me wonder what would happen if high school writing workshops used this conversation-with-collaboration as a standard approach. Combined with the idea of the flipped classroom,  it could transform the kind of writing instruction usually offered in class time. Just think– instruction that lasts longer than the good ole’ mini-lesson!

And, if students could put the instruction to use while they had open & were working on their GDocs? Finally, all the GDocs, complete with comments, plus the final version, plus some student reflection on what they learned about their own writing for each piece, could be uploaded to Issuu and voila! An instant portfolio.

Simple. Easy. Learning as living, as life.

Isn’t that what school should be? Your thoughts welcome.


Image: “325 – Chrome Wrapping Paper” Attribution Some rights reserved by Patrick Hoesly


The Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media


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