Daire Ó Broin, Damien Rafter (2011) Using Google Docs To Support Project-Based Learning, AISHE-J, Volume 3, Number 1 (Spring 2011)
Project-Based Learning is a wide-ranging approach that uses authentic problems to engage students. One of its main benefits is that it enables ideas in the classroom to be linked with real-life. Among its limitations: it is difficult for students to collaborate on artefacts outside of class time and it is problematic for the teacher both to monitor the progress of the project and to assess the individual contribution of each student. These limitations are partly overcome by Google Docs, a suite of free online applications that facilitate collaboration. Firstly, Google Docs enables students in different locations to work simultaneously but independently on the same artefact. Secondly, we, as teachers, can be included as observers on each project group and thus track the development of the work. This year, various groups of students across the Science and Business departments used the Google Docs word-processor to work both collaboratively and individually on a diverse range of projects. We present a case study of one of these class groups, the results of which were largely positive. However, some problems arose that will inform our approach with future student groups.
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