Pedagogy that “lives in the cloud”

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?

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5 Responses to “Pedagogy that “lives in the cloud””

  1. Malcolm Harris Says:

    Never understood why all the teen hackers never take down one of these school sites and liberate some of their homework time. “Sorry teach, Google Docs was down all last night…”

  2. Alex Says:

    At school we wrote a password decoder and got admin access. We also realised that the external web server service was vulnerable so pwned that too. We also changed our rights so we could play Quake and sent out system wide messages to classes of first years through the teaching software.

    Sadly the marking systems were on paper still.

  3. Hill Says:

    I personally don’t like composing documents in web apps.

  4. myles Says:

    I’m with Hill–it makes for less paper mess, but I’m a faster scribbler when grading than I am typing.

  5. Daniel Lindquist Says:

    I also like scribbling, but don’t see any real downside to not scribbling if you prefer typing.

    I require paper copies to be turned in just to help attendance.


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