For me, students learning to work together is a great opportunity for them to share ideas and knowledge in a safe environment; they can learn from one another. By effectively collaborating, students become active participants in their own learning. Instead of just absorbing information, they become problem solvers.
Last week I introduced my students to Google Docs as a collaborative tool. We have been using Google Apps since the beginning of the year, but we haven’t used Docs to collaborate in small groups. Because they were familiar with the format, students were quick to jump in and to find features such as ‘chat’ and ‘comments’ and taught these to each other.
Within the lesson, students were actively engaged and completed the task. I still found that some students wanted to control the process, while a few focused a bit too much on the features. However, I find this true with other formats and will consider that a classroom management issue.
To my great surprise, a small group of students chose Google Docs later in the day to record their notes for a completely different task. I have to say, that felt pretty nice.