Teaching With Google Docs

If you have been reluctant to make the switch to Google Docs, it’s time to go for it. Last week, Google released a series of “add-ons” for Google Drive that make using gdocs much easier for teachers, students, and writers.

I have been wanting to incorporate Google Docs into my writing classes for a couple years now–basically ever since I started using them in my own writing. However, the lack of a few basic functions have prevented me from doing so up until now.


Grading in gdocs has always been particularly difficult. With no track changes function like the one provided by Microsoft Word, it was nearly impossible to leave feedback on student papers. This was the biggest detractor for me and it kept me from using gdocs with student papers.

But that has all changed as of last week. As far as teaching with Google Docs goes, the new Track Changes add-on is easily the most exciting addition.

Students who use gdocs will be happy to see other new add-ons like EasyBib, which generates bibliography pages and streamlines the research process.

Table of Contents is an add-on designed for writers which creates a hyperlinked list of section headings or chapters.

I’m still playing around with these new add-ons, but I feel pretty confident that they will be the final step I needed in order to go Google Docs-only in my classroom.

I will probably use this summer to redesign my writing classes according to the gdoc platform and to make sure I’m comfortable especially with the new Track Changes feature.

I’m a bit apprehensive about the idea of requiring students to use a third party platform like Google Docs in class, but at least it’s free. Even the student version of the Microsoft Office suite costs about $100. Avoiding that cost will be an added incentive.

Many of my students already use gdocs anyway, so it won’t be too difficult to make the switch.┬áBesides, I feel confident that most students will be happy they started using gdocs once they get going with it.

For a more detailed description of the new Google tools for teachers and students, check out this recent article at The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Vitae.