Google Apps to
Workshop Keynote (PDF) can be found at
Writing Workshop page
Thank you for the opportunity to speak at your First-Year Writing Workshop. I enjoy talking
about technology and how it can be used in education. I also like sharing my experiences with
technology to help others.
By the way, you can access a PDF ﬁle of this Keynote presentation from a page on my blog. Of
course, you can post comments there, too. I would love to hear from you.
How might we engage our learners with technology? By adding appropriate technology tools
to meaningful learning, we can enable our learners to more actively engage in reading and
Purpose of this
The purpose of my presentation today is to discuss some excellent tools we have at our
disposal at Boise State, why and how you might use them to help your students become
better readers and writers.
Next, let’s watch a short video explaining a bit more about Google Apps . . .
What IS Google Apps?
First of all, what IS Google Apps? Here's a short video done by Google that helps answer this
As you saw in the video, Google Apps is a suite of applications that allows you and your
students to become more efficient, productive and to collaborate, revise, and publish.
It's a services platform that allows you to accomplish a lot of tasks.
Today we’ll focus on three tools:
and Blogger and how you can use them in your classroom.
So, let's get started.
First, I want to tell you about Google docs, a collaborative word processing program that is a
free, web-based application.
(And by the way, Google docs is NOT only a word processing application, but also includes
spreadsheets, forms (you can create easy surveys), and presentations. Today, I'm going to talk
about the word processing part of Google docs.)
Can you use Google docs to engage your students?
YES! Here are just a few simple ideas:
Why Google Docs?
• easy to write, edit, revise, and publish
• access writing from one centralized location
• receive timely feedback
• version history
• familiar layouts
• experience authentic editing practices
• publish for a world audience
Google Docs can engage reading and writing by making it much easier to edit, revise, and
All documents can be accessed from one central online location
By receiving timely feedback from you or other editors, your students can stay on top of their
work and make real progress with writing
Version history provides the reassurance students need if they make changes and then
decide they don’t want to use them.
Familiar layouts in Google docs makes learning this tool almost automatic.
By actively going through the steps of writing, review, editing, and revising, students can
experience authentic writing processes
And, of course, students can publish any Google doc so that others can read it.
It just makes sense to use Google docs for a majority of your writing that does not demand
the sophisticated aspects of a full-featured word processing program.
Ideas for Google Docs
in Your Classroom
• Individual writing assignments
• Collaborative writing projects
• Turn emails/attachments into Google docs
• Create and share rubrics with students
How might you use Google docs in your classroom?
ANY Type of individual writing assignment, but especially those that requires peer-view,
editing, revising, publishing
Collaborative writing projects where students might work in groups, doing group editing and
revisions over a period of time
Turn emails/attachments into Google docs
Create and share rubrics with students
Google Docs Tips
• Google Doc habit
• Require students to use Google docs
• Have them share the Google doc with you
• Require them to name the ﬁle with
• Put all student work in the same Google
docs class folder
Here are some helpful hints if you decide to use Google docs for writing assignments:
First of all, get in the habit of using Google docs yourself.
Require students to use Google docs in most of your writing assignments.
Have them share the Google doc with you.
Require them to name the ﬁle with identiﬁers
Put all student work in the same Google Docs class folder
Google Docs Demo
• login to your Google Apps account at Boise
Here's how easy it is to access and use Google docs through Google Apps at Boise State:
Go to http://apps.boisestate.edu
and login with your BroncoWeb user name and password
You will ﬁrst see your email account. Click the Documents link on the upper left and you are
in Google docs.
Are there disadvantages to using Google docs?
Sometimes it seems slow to respond, especially if you are a fast keyboarder
It's not a full-featured word processing program (although they keep adding new features)
When you import a Word document, the formatting can sometimes get weird.
But, given the upsides, Google docs can be a very powerful and important tool in your
endeavors to increase and improve writing in your classroom. What do you think? Questions
Next, I will talk about and show you Google Sites.
Google Sites is a collaborative website (known also as a wiki) that currently can be private or
public for instructors and private or viewable to BSU domain name holders for students.
There are many opportunities in your classes to use collaborative websites, or wikis.
In the past we've been relegated to using some of the free, web-based wikis, such as pbwiki,
wikispaces, or wetpaint. These are great wikis, but we still don't know how long they will be
around or how they will be maintained.
With Google Sites you have a website, wiki, and a constantly developed resource that SHOULD
be stable and reliable. The screen shot you are viewing right now is a test sample I put up for
our department, showing how we could use Google Sites to create our own intranet.
Again, to get started for this segment, let's watch a video about Google Sites: http://
Why Google Sites?
• it’s there and included in Google Apps
• easy to use, no knowledge of HTML
• can share and work with others on same
• many features, can be made public or
• can evolve over time, rich resource
There are many reasons why you might want to use Google Sites in your classroom:
You have it available, it’s there and ready for you to use!
It’s easy to use and you don’t need to have knowledge of HTML or other web skills to create a
professional, dynamic site.
You can share it with others and have them edit, work on it.
Google Sites includes many features and can be customized to meet your needs.
Your site can evolve over time and develop as a rich resource for your students, future
classes, and teachers
Ideas for Google Sites
in Your Classroom
• Collaborative class book
• Group research, writing samples, searchable
database, resource site for future students
• Student portfolios
How might you use Google Sites in your classroom? Let me count the ways:
Use Google Sites to create and host a collaborative class book.
Use Google Sites as a place to collect, sort, and ﬁnd materials, create a resource site for
future students with writing samples, ideas for future classes, etc.
Use Google Sites to host student portfolios, where students design and post their original
work throughout your program, ending with a rich resource. Google Sites allows the
embedding of all sorts of material, and students could include many types of digital media on
Now, I’ll show you how easy it is to set up a Google Site through Google Apps at Boise State,
how to share a site, and other neat features.
Google Site Example
Here’s a screen shot of a Google Site already under construction. Let’s look at this site (this is
the public view). As you can see, it looks just like a website (which it is), but offers a very
handy search feature.
Next, I’ll sign in and show you how it looks to the site owner and how you can view page
versions (remember, all of Google Apps tools offer ways to correct your mistakes! I like that
I will also show you how to edit/save pages, add a new page, how to share your site, and how
to search the site.
Are there disadvantages to using Google Sites?
Right now, student sites cannot be made public, like instructor sites. However, OIT is
supposed to be working on this issue.
The sign-in interface is somewhat confusing, since student sites and instructor sites seem to
be accessible from different locations.
All of the Google applications (YouTube, Google video, and others) are easy to insert. But
when you want to insert another type of object, it's not as intuitive.
However, even with these disadvantages, for the average user, I think Google Sites offers a lot
of advantages, with the strongest one being able to quickly construct a very professional and
attractive looking website with other people.
My ﬁnal tech tool and strategies for engaging reading and writing is Blogger, a free, web-
based blogging application.
Google owns Blogger (blogger.com), which is a very powerful yet simple online blogging tool.
Since students are already using a lot of Google tools, they might ﬁnd the simple sign-in
process and access to blogger very convenient.
As you may know, blogs are personal journals, online micro-publications, that allow writers to
explore writing, invite comments, and begin to develop a voice.
Blogging IS Reading &
But how can blogging engage reading and writing?
First of all, blogging IS reading and writing, plain and simple. But blogging can engage
reading and writing in many ways.
• Authentic voice/personal interest
• Public audience
• Quick, easy, professional, slick
Blogs can help our students write in an authentic voice, on a topic in which they are truly
interested. Writing from their interests might increase output and quality.
Blogging is public and viewable by a world-wide audience. Instead of only the teacher reading
student work, now the world does. And the world comments too! Students might be more
motivated to write their best when their audience is public.
Blogging provides the means for learners to self-assess. Through reading classmates’ blogs,
students can compare their own writing. Through this type of self-assessment, learners might
be motivated to continuously improve, getting ideas from better writers, and trying out new
A blog is uber-quick and easy to set up and might provide just the right amount of
motivation for a student to start writing.
Once they see how easy it is to write one post, students might be encouraged to keep writing.
It could become habit-forming.
Ideas for Blogs in Your
• Class blog, enabling student conﬁdence &
• Personal, individual blogs on self-selected
• Blogs can become podcasts (view this
tutorial website for more info: http://
Here are some ideas for blogs in your classroom:
Create a collaborative class blog, with students ﬁrst practicing on a group site, reading other
Students create their own blogs, on a topic they self-select.
Students use blogging software to create podcasts (Here's a great tutorial I've used in the past
to help me do this: http://www.freevlog.org )
Getting Started with
• Go to http://blogger.com and login or
create an account
• Great tutorials on the Blogger site
• Watch how fast and easy it is to create a
blog . . .
It’s easy to get started with Blogger. Just go to blogger.com and sign in or create an account.
There are also great tutorials on the Blogger site.
Are there disadvantages to using Blogger?
One of the biggest (for me) is the lack of a large number of themes.
It's pretty structured and limits the amount of customization you can do.
But for ease of use, interfacing with your Google sign in, and automatically being included in
the Google blog search engine, Blogger is a pretty powerful choice for a free, web-based
Any questions/comments about Blogger?
Google Apps Tutorial
In doing the research for this workshop, I found a GREAT tutorial resource that I didn’t even
know about, which covers ALL of the Google Apps tools. It also includes some interactive
practice. Here is the site:
Thank you for inviting me to speak and show you some really great tools. As always, I
appreciate your comments, and invite you to post comments to my blog page that contains a
PDF link of this Keynote presentation. Again, thanks and have a great rest of the semester.