I have to admit, I love Google. I want to believe their mantra is for real: “do no evil” (though I’m a skeptic at heart). Being a Mac user, I love how they’ve messed with Microsoft’s territory and have created some outstanding services (you can’t call it software) that rival Office, and in some ways, completely outdoes them. I love that all of this is free, and that most of them incorporate collaborative features that make a Word document seem old-fashioned.
I have experimented with Google Docs (includes documents, presentations & spreadsheets) Notebook, Calendar, & Pages (Google Sites is new, and looks intriguing, though I haven’t fully explored it). I’m also a fan of Google Earth & Google Maps, but those two sites deserve their own posts alone (and I’ve posted before on mapping). The biggest advantage that Google Tools has over its software counterparts is the interactivity and collaboration that’s possible. There’s only one document that exists, it can be shared with others (as either viewers or editors), and can even be published to the web as a public document. Settings also allow you to keep all material private and password-protected.
As a teacher, the logistical advantages are numerous: students (and teachers) can access their work from any computer connected to the web; material can be shared among students, group members, and with the teacher; students can work collaboratively and their individual contributions can be tracked; teachers can share notes & class material with parents and absent students; and, only one master document exists…no more emailing different versions or printing out pages for group members.
Here are some links to the various Google Apps & resources on applying them in the classroom. To take part, all you need is a free Google account.
Google Docs (documents/presentations/spreadsheets): http://docs.google.com
Google Notebook: http://www.google.com/notebook
Google Pages: http://pages.google.com
About Google Pages: http://pages.google.com/-/about.html
Google Calendar: http://google.com/calendar
Make Note of It: Online Note-Taking in the Classroom: http://teachersnetwork.org/ntol/howto/incorptech/notes.htm
Google Docs for Class Notes and Group Projects: http://www.ericmacknight.com/wordpress/?p=67
Google Docs Tour: http://www.google.com/google-d-s/tour1.htm
Google Notebook Tour: http://www.google.com/googlenotebook/tour1.html
Taking Notes with Google Notebook: http://www.rev2.org/2006/05/17/taking-notes-with-google-notebook
About Google Docs: http://www.google.com/google-d-s/intl/en/tour1.html
Things to Do with Google Docs (in the classroom):
Writely: A New Tool for the Classroom (note: Writely was bought out by Google and was re-branded as Google Docs): http://www.toddseal.com/rodin/2006/01/writely-a-new-tool
How Teachers are Using Google Apps in the Classroom: