Many students are unaware of Google Docs' existence. I was one of those students just last week. For those of you located somewhere in left-field, Google Docs is a free, Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation and form application offered by Google. Google Docs introduces a unique and new educational sphere for students. Thanks to Google Docs, students are now able to collaborated online, in REAL-TIME, with teachers, their peers, with friends, family, etc. Google Documents can be edited in REAL-TIME with a person thousands of miles away. Google Spreadsheets has a chat screen that opens whenever another collaborator logs in, so they can chat in real time while they edit! Cool, huh? The academic advantages of being able to collaborate on a document in real time with some one in a different building on campus, half way across the world are invaluable. Two people could co-author an article, or entire classes could brainstorm for an activity.
I have to say, some of the tools available through Google Docs may not be as refined as Microsoft Office's solutions (I have been getting frustrated with the formatting on a resume I'm working on); however, Google seems to do an excellent job implementing desired features and continually developing their products to exceed the highest of expectation. In the world of education, I wouldn't be surprised if Google Docs soon replaced pencil and paper in classrooms.
One thing is for sure, Microsoft Office is only one generation away from extinction if they don't create free collaboration tools of their own, SOON.
Personally, I think I was an easy win over. I love the ease with which Google Docs enables me to work on papers and documents, presentations, etc. at any time, in any plcae. I even converted my group members from my TE 401 class and we now have our group project online, enabling us to collaborate, work together, and get our project done on a time frame that works for us...without even having to meet at the library! That, in itself, is an amazing benefit. As a BUSY college student, I NEVER have the time to meet with a group for a project. Google Docs has the solution, I'm definitely going to do some more research on ways to utilize this app in the classroom. I'll update soon :)