7 Reasons to Use Google Docs for Research

Today’s blog is written by Michelle Nass, Downingtown West Librarian

There are so many awesome places to find breakdowns and infographics that help us improve our use of technology and help nudge our students towards more effective and efficient research.  While scrolling through my Pinterest page, I came across this great blog by Michael Fricano on four reasons why you should consider using Google Docs with your students in your research, and thought it might be useful especially in light of our school’s new Google accounts.  It is well worth the short time to scan over it or read it, in my opinion.

In short, did you know that:

1)      In Docs, under “tools” there is a “research” tab that will open a research sidebar that allows students to search and filter by scholar, images, etc.  They can cite directly from here in APA or MLA format, hyperlink their discussion, pull images directly over, etc.  It is a really powerful tool that will allow the students to be more metacognitive as they work (yes, I used metacognitive… I feel like I’m writing a grad paper).

2)      Under “add-ons” there are LOTS of great, helpful add-ons for writing, math, charting, etc.  The blogger and I both recommend that the students use the highlighting add-on right away.  It allows them to highlight and then gather the highlighted text in a separate doc as they are working on a larger research project, which allows them to think through and organize their work more effectively.

3)      The comment tool—have the students share their docs with you rather than handing in various drafts.  Use the comment tool to help them edit their work.  They can use the comment tool to annotate their notes to show their thinking and come back to it later.

4)      Sharing—the students can share documents with you or their group mates and edit simultaneously, or even use the “chat” function to talk about their work as they do it if they are editing in real-time in separate locations.

5)      Revision History—tracks every change a student makes and time stamps it.  Want to check when a student did the work or how many revisions he/she made?  Here you go.

6)      Connections—their Google Docs will connect with their EasyBib accounts (don’t know about these?  Ask me!) and Schoology so that they will soon be able to submit documents directly from their Google accounts.

7.) Saving—finally, Google Docs save as you go.  For those of you who might have Internet issues or if your students sometimes struggle with the flash drive that doesn’t work or got lost, or if you have students who do not have Word at home and come in with that strange file that you need to figure out how to convert, this feature solves those problems.

Google Docs for research is another great way to collaborate with your school librarian in doing research!  Talk to your school librarian—I know that I would love to work with you and our students on this if you’re interested in adding this collaborative and engaging angle to your students’ research projects.

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