Web 2.0 and Emerging Learning Technologies/Google Docs

Google Docs is a free-web word processor that allows people to share documents and collaborate online. The members of the community can have access to the different documents from any computer that has an Internet connection, or even from a mobile phone. You can invite other members to join in so that you can share all your documents with you.

Google Docs is an easy tool that simplifies and facilitates the access and exchange of information via Internet. All the documents are saved by default in the Google servers without needing to store it in your local hard drive. If you open any file online, it is automatically saved in order to prevent the loss of data.

Google Docs also gives you the possibility to organize and save your documents by tags. This allows you to have access to them in a more organized and practical way.

Not only can you upload documents but also spreadsheets and presentations. There are plenty of tools and options for you (and other collaborators) to work with on Google Docs. This is what can be done with different types of documents:

  • Documents
    • Upload different types of documents, such as Word documents, HTML OpenOffice, or text, among others.
    • Create documents, give format to them, spell-check them, etc with a simple editor.
    • Share your documents (by e-mail address) and invite others to view and/or edit them online at the same time.
    • Publish your documents online as Web pages for everybody to have access to them. Post your documents to your blog.
    • Download documents posted by other members to your desktop in a wide variety of formats (Word, OpenOffice, RTF, PDF, HTML or zip)

  • Spreadsheets
    • Import and export archives with .xls, .csv, .txt, .pdf, .html and .ods extensions.
    • Navigate and edit whichever document or spreadsheet you want while chatting in real time with other collaborators.
    • Calculate results and change the format to the way you like.
    • Embed a spreadsheet, or a piece of it, in a blog or website; that is to say, you can have a direct access to it from one of the places previously mentioned.

  • Presentations
    • Edit presentations using an editor and sharing them with your co-workers.
    • Import or export presentations using the extensions .pdf or .ppt.
    • Insert images or videos.
    • View the presentations in real time viewing from any computer.
    • Publish and embed any presentation in a website so that it can be seen by a wide audience.


A user can store a limited number files in his/ her account. Each document must not be bigger than 500k plus 2MB for each embedded image. Regarding spreadsheets, they must have less than 10,000 rows, 256 columns and under 40 sheets. There can be a 5,000 documents and presentations, 5,000 images and 1,000 spreadsheets in all. Only 11 spreadsheets can be opened at the same time; and only presentations no bigger than 10MB can be imported.

Google Docs in ELT

Google Docs is a useful tool for both the teacher and students. As it is a collaborative website, it is possible to upload different kinds of documents worked in the classroom allowing the rest of the members to see them and/ or edit them. Besides, the content is saved in the web platform, not in a local hard disc; so this gives the member the possibility of having access to it from any location.

As teachers, you can:

  • Encourage students to participate collaboratively;
  • Motivate them to make use of the Internet as part of their daily life tool finding the advantages (and, sometimes disadvantages) of it;
  • Have a better organization of the contents seen in class;
  • Supervise your students' work in a practical way;
  • Create a special section called "Common Interest" for everyone to upload issues they are interested in and share them;
  • Use this tool as the main source of reading instead of photocopies;

As students, you can:

  • Have access to information from any computer or mobile phone;
  • Upload your work allowing other members to see it;
  • Share information with your friends via Internet;
  • Edit other people's work online in a collaborative way;
  • Invite your teacher to see a document;
  • Upload documents or information you are interested in for later discussion.


It is pretty difficult to find communities who are using Google Docs as the main tool in ELT. These are some of the examples about ideas to use in a ELT classroom:

http://www.google.com/educators/p_docs.html In this website, you can find examples on how Google Docs works for teachers.

http://googledocs.blogspot.com/ This blog gives you ideas on how to use Google Docs in the classroom. It works with embedded PowerPoint Presentations created in Google Docs. At the same time you can have access to the presentation itself in: http://docs.google.com/EmbedSlideshow?docid=dhn2vcv5_8323t58h3ft&size=m'%20frameborder='0'%20width='555'%20height='451