This is part of a regular series of articles exploring some of the terms used in e-learning (view other articles in the series). We’ll do our best to break down the jargon and explain what things are from a basic perspective.
Google Docs is a word processor that forms part of the Google Drive suite of on-line office applications (http://go.shu.ac.uk/google or http://drive.google.com). It offers simple editing and styling tools to format documents along with easy ways to add links, images, drawings, and tables. As with other apps in the suite you can collaborate with other people on a document. When someone makes an edit, their change will
automatically appear on your screen if you’re viewing the file, with their name next to their cursor so that you can see who is typing. You can also use the live chat functionality to discuss any changes as they are being made.
Google Docs can be used to support students in writing group essays because the ‘revision history’ feature allows the contribution of each individual to be clearly seen.
While the Google Drive suite is primarily intended for online use, by using the Google Chrome web browser or the mobile app it is possible to work with documents offline. When working offline, any changes will be automatically uploaded when the device connects to the network. This means that Google Drive is still usable when internet access is intermittent or unavailable, such as on trains and planes.
You can see tutorial videos for using Google Drive and Google docs on Lynda.com, an on-line training site that has recently made available to all staff and students at SHU, To access the site go to http://go.shu.ac.uk/lynda and entering your standard SHU login details and search for Google Drive.
You can find out more about other Google Apps in our previous post: Google Apps for Education Overview