This month, the IT Training & Support Team would like to recognize Dr. Pilar Munday. Dr. Pilar Munday is well known for integrating technology into her teaching. Utilizing an arsenal of tools including Blackboard, Ning, Twitter, and Google Docs, her students enjoy a dynamic learning experience. We had the great pleasure of discussing Pilar’s approach to implementing Google Docs in the classroom
What prompted you to begin utilizing Google Docs in your teaching?
I heard of other educators using it in Twitter, and I was curious to see how it would work in my classes.
What flexibility has Google Docs offered you that you didn't find in Microsoft Office?
I definitely like that the documents are in the cloud. Thus, you are not tied to any computer. I can access my documents from any classroom. I also think that the collaborative aspect of Google Docs is one of its main advantages. You do not have to send drafts of documents back and forth. Students are able to work in one document or presentation easily and every student can be working at the same time on it if they want to. It is also very easy to convert any document (even spreadsheets) into a webpage with a link. In addition, the “forms” function of Google docs allows me to create surveys easily, which I cannot do with Microsoft Office.
How do you harness Google Docs in conjunction with Blackboard?
Blackboard is the place where I put all the links for my Google Docs, whether it is just homework, or a survey, or a spreadsheet where everyone has to contribute something.
If you create presentations, for example, they can also be embedded into a Blackboard page easily.
How intuitive do you consider Google Docs to be and how much time do you spend planning your courses when integrating these tools?I find them very intuitive. The platform is a bit strange at first, but after you have created a couple of documents, presentations or spreadsheets, it is not difficult. They do have many elements in common with Office.
What makes Google Docs so successful and how have students responded to using it in class?
Most students have enjoyed using them. The collaboration part took a bit of learning, but in general I think students are happy that they have learned a new skill that can be used for any other class or for real life.
Would you encourage your colleagues to adopt Google Docs in their teaching? If so, why?
Yes, particularly for compositions. With Google Docs, students do not need to print a paper anymore. You can write the corrections in the Google Doc easily (with the “add comments function”), and then you can have them share their essays for peer editing. It is very easy to track changes and to see who wrote what.
And definitely, just for “forms”. They are much more than surveys. I use them even for short assignments. Student just get a link, answer the questions, and then I have all the answers together collected in a spreadsheet.
About Dr. Munday
Pilar Munday, Ph.D., Associate Professor, received a BA from the Universidad de Granada and a Ph.D. in Theoretical Linguistics from New York University.
Pilar’s website is a place for Spanish teachers, or those preparing to be teachers,to communicate, collaborate and learn from each other while practicing their Spanish skills with colleagues.