When I first got my Shimer College e-mail account, I was pleased to see that it is hosted in Gmail — and apparently this summer they introduced a shift making Google Docs and other services available as well. At K College, I already received the majority of classwork electronically, and I specified to the students that they would get comments and grades in the same format (i.e., either paper or electronic) in which they submitted their work. If they submitted electronically, I would leave changes and comments on the file using Word’s “track changes” feature and e-mail it back to them. I found that I was able to leave much more detailed and helpful comments in that format, and students were able to read them much more easily. Some students still opted for the paper method, but I don’t recall any complaints from students about the electronic method.
Now that I have an “official” college-wide Google Docs setup, I’m thinking of using it for all written work — after all, I know for a fact that all students will have an account, so there would be no concerns about the hassle of getting everyone set up to work with it. It would also provide an automatic backup of their work if they composed it in Google Docs itself, and they could obviously upload files created elsewhere if desired.
Does this plan sound plausible to you, dear readers? Are there potential drawbacks I’m not seeing? Should I still allow for the paper option?