National Writing Project

Digital Toolbox: Google Docs

Date: August 2008

Summary: Google Docs is a useful digital tool for composing and editing text, as it combines the features of a word processing program with the option of online collaboration, editing, and publishing.


Google Docs is a free Web-based program that allows teachers and students to create and share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.

Writing project teachers and their colleagues have found Google Docs to be a useful addition to their digital toolbox because it allows for collaborative editing, tracking of revisions, and Web-based publishing of text in a shared online space. You can control who has access to a document, whether it's just yourself, one student, or the entire class.

Why Google Docs?

Google Docs has a number of features that support the practice of writing project teachers:

  • Google Docs has the familiar look and feel of a typical word processing program.
  • Google Docs makes it easy for students to collaborate on their writing when they're composing and when they're revising each other's work.
  • Google Docs saves changes to documents automatically and allows teachers to review document revisions showing exactly who changed what, and when.
  • When pieces are ready to be published, the program allows for the publishing of documents online, as normal-looking Web pages, without the need to learn new tools.
  • Because all Google Docs documents are stored online, they can be accessed by teachers and students from any computer with an Internet connection and a standard browser.

Requirements for Use

Users must create a free Google account to use the program, and since the documents are stored online in a shared Web space, users must have Internet access to use the Google Docs applications.

Teachers and Principals Talk about Google Docs

This video features Susan Ettenheim, who is is on the leadership team for the New York City Writing Project's technology work.

Related Resource Topics

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