True learning involves a process that never ends, we are continually growing and changing as we learn. The learning process is one that should make us continually evaluate what we “knew” before and allow to us make changes to everything as we learn something new. Learning involves a process of trying things out, possibly failing, and then improving in a process that should lead to learning something that we did not know before. At no point in this process of learning are we ever really done with anything.
The statements I just made are the basis for the reason why I prefer the use and application of Google Docs in the classroom, as well in other areas, as opposed to pieces of paper. When a student turns in a piece of paper, they tend to feel done with it as it is no longer in their possession. They may not even think about that piece of paper again until it gets handed back, if it ever gets handed back. That paper was “complete” and their learning was finished.
Using a Google Doc the document is never “done” as it can always be edited. Students always have access to it and can come back to it quickly when they want to. It is available wherever they are as long as they have a connected device. They can see comments added to it instantly as the teacher provides feedback. They can even carry on a conversation in the document asking for clarification and assistance to make their learning better.
Collaboration is increased due to the fact that the Google Doc can easily be worked on by multiple people at the same time or asynchronously. A group can actually work together without having to be together at the same place at the same time. By using the revision history you can easily see who wrote what and when they wrote it, giving you a clear picture of the true collaboration that took place.
The teacher can even be one of the collaborators and assist along the way. I can not tell you how happy I was when I first used Google Docs with my students and had to be gone the next day. I logged on into their docs during class and was able to see them working and even provide feedback or ask questions without being in the room. This opened up so many opportunities for feedback and learning to take place.
While some may like the nostalgia of a piece of paper, there is little comparison when we truly focus on the main aspects of learning. If we value collaboration, continual growth and increased feedback then we should easily see the benefits of using Google Docs over a piece of paper.