Since 2012, the Californian company Google proposes a cloud storage, file sharing and collaborative device called Google Drive. Before last Wednesday, I didn’t know a thing about this great tool. Actually, the only thing I knew about cloud storage was that it was a way to make sure that documents were saved somewhere other than on USB devices! I was far from thinking that a cloud storage service could permit free sharing between people and even collaboration just like Google Drive does. When I learned about all the uses of this device, I immediately thought of how this wonderful tool could be used in an ESL classroom. Let’s take a look at some of those possibilities!
When I took a look at what teachers were doing with Google Drive in their classroom, I found an interesting blog where an AP teacher was using this device as a platform for peer assessment and peer editing. While I was reading, I realized that often in my classes, my teachers asked us to give comments on peer works, but it was always the same thing. We had to read to text, write comments on it and then give it back to the student who wrote it. The problem with this way of doing peer assessment is that the students reviewing the papers has access to the name of the student who wrote which can alter the revision. With Google Drive, teachers can assign the students, numbers in order to preserve anonymity, and upload documents for peer editing on the Drive. For example, a teacher can ask his students to write a short story. When all the students are done, the teacher can redistribute the papers between the students and ask them to read their colleague’s work as homework or in the class. After having read the papers, the students only have to accede to a Word or Excel document made accessible by the teacher on Google Drive and write their comments directly on those documents. The major advantages of using this device in peer assessment is, first it’s anonymous, second the types of comments that the teacher wants his students to give are supervised because the students only have to fill in the blanks the teacher’s questions directly on the document and finally, it’s instantly accessible for all the students.
Another way to integrate Google Drive in our classroom, like mentioned in the article the magic of google drive in the classroom, is to use this tool as a way to make students create stories, texts, poems and so forth, in community. Let me explain this great idea! Google Drive, being a file sharing device, permits people (students in our case) to work at the same time, on one single document. Doing so, students can work together, without being together! Each student only has to access his own Drive and work on the document while his teammates are doing just like him. Being myself someone who prefers working at home rather than in school while creating texts, I believe that the file sharing systems proposed by Google Drive helps a lot the students who are just like me, without impeding the advantages of team work. The best of two worlds!
Other interesting ideas, from two reflective teachers, involve the processes of reading and sharing. Indeed, analyzing literature can be real difficult for many students, but with Google Drive, it can be simplified or at least it can give the students the help they need while analyzing. Imagine! The students are all at home, reading let say The Scarlet Letter from Nathaniel Hawthorne, and they are having a hard time with the analysis, the teacher can simply upload discussion questions or reading tips on Google Drive and all the students can access the documents, answer the questions they know and find tips and answers to their own questions. Some people might say: Yes but they can do exactly the same on Facebook! And those people are not completely wrong except for one point. With Google Drive, teachers can help their students and guide them as well, without having to have their students as Facebook friends.
In this blog article, I only mentioned three of the thousand uses of Google Drive in the classroom. Actually, the ways to use this wonderful device are as numerous as are teachers. It can be used to create Web-quests, to give the students their assignments, to make the content of the course available or simply to communicate and share ideas!
Being informed of all the diversified uses of Google Drive, I’ll try, when I have my own classroom, to integrate this great tool as much as possible! In my opinion, this device can have major benefits on the students’ interests about the course which can only lead to better results!