Tool Reviews



Watch overview videoGoogle Docs Overview (2:27)


Google Docs is an interactive, web-based, word processor that allows students to produce text documents that live entirely on the cloud (Alharbi, 2019). Students can create, share, and collaborate in real time. Google Docs is distinguished from other Web 2.0 tools by its editing feature that enables both author and reviewer to contribute to the text synchronously (simultaneous editing of writing by learners) and asynchronously (non-simultaneous editing by learners) (Alharbi, 2019). The ability for teachers to monitor their students’ progress and provide feedback on students’ work right on this innovative platform supports students’ Zone of Proximal Development as they are guided by teachers from the start of planning their work to the final stage of editing, through to feedback and drafting practices and activities (Alharbi, 2009).

Justification for Using this Tool

Google Docs is an interactive tool that allows users to work on a document simultaneously (Alharbi, 2009), on a one-to-one or one-to-many basis (Desjardins, 2005a). As suggested by a constructivist learning approach, collaborating and conversing with others enriches student understanding (Jonassen et al., 1999). Students can work on the document at the same time, building off each other’s ideas, research, brainstorming, and suggestions. Collaboration using Google Docs is not restricted to the classroom environment, providing flexibility, as students can work together at any time, anywhere, through the doc (Suwantarathip & Wichadee, 2014). Students can also utilize the chat function to partake in discussion with group members or teachers to further enhance knowledge construction (Suwantarathip & Wichadee, 2014). Virtual collaboration can lead to more reflections and sharing of ideas than face-to-face collaboration (Clark & Mayer, 2011). Working collaboratively reflects a wide range of perspectives and as such, results in a more complete and comprehensive product (Suwantarathip & Wichadee, 2014).

Google Docs also supports a Problem-Based Learning (PBL) approach where a given or student constructed problem is the starting point of the learning process to be solved by a group of students (De Graaff & Kolmos, 2003). Students can use Google Docs as a learning tool, where they come together to understand the problem and document various solutions on the Doc. The immediacy of the tool allows teachers to monitor students’ progress and provide constant suggestions, pose questions, and seek clarification, using the comments feature that the tool provides (Alharbi, 2009; Suwantarathip & Wichadee, 2014). Research shows that the use of constructive feedback can enhance students’ quality of work in terms of content, organization of ideas, language and grammar, conventions, and referencing (Ciftci & Kocoglu, 2012).

Strategies for Use

Strategy 1 – Feedback

Watch overview videoGoogle Docs as a Teacher and Peer Editing/Feedback Tool (2:36)

Google Docs has many features that are conducive to teacher and peer, editing and revision. The features available for students and teachers to use for review and editing purposes support writing and learning as a process.

Strategy 2 – Problem-Based Learning

Watch overview videoUsing Google Docs for Problem-Based Learning (1:35)

Students can utilize Google Docs as a way to collaborate with peers when trying to solve a given or student-created, real-world, meaningful problem.

Helpful Resources

Resource 1 – Getting Started with Google Docs

G Suite Learning Center has created an in-depth guide to using Google Docs. This guide outlines all the functions and features that Google Docs offers.

Resource 2 – Using Google Docs in Education

This video outlines ways to use the basic features of Google Docs and how these features can be used for learning purposes. It also outlines ways to use this tool for collaboration, editing, and providing feedback to learners and group members.

Resource 3 – Using Google Docs to Support Collaboration

This information guide provides the readers with ideas on how to use Google Docs as a collaboration tool in education. It also provides a description on the features that help to foster collaboration.


Alharbi, M. A. (2019). Exploring the potential of google doc in facilitating innovative teaching  and learning practices in an EFL writing course. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 1-16.

Ciftci, H., & Kocoglu, Z. (2012). Effects of peer e-feedback on Turkish EFL students’ writing performance. Journal of Education Computing Research, 46(1), 61-84.

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R.E. (2011). E-learning and the science of instruction. San Francisco, CA: Wiley.

De Graaff, D., & Kolmos, A. (2003). Characteristics of problem-based learning. Int. J. Engng Ed., 00(0), 1-6.

Jonassen, D. H., Peck, K. L. & Wilson, B. G. (1999). Learning with technology: A con structivist perspective. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Suwantarathip, O., & Wichadee, S. (2014). The effects of collaborative writing activity us ing google docs on students’ writing abilities. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology,13(2), 148-156.


Submitted by: Chelsea Sontoli
Twitter: @ChelseaSantoli2
Bio: I am currently an Occasional Teacher with Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board and York Region District School Board. I am completing a Master of Education and Digital Technology degree through Ontario Tech University. I am a lifelong learner and passionate educator interested in utilizing technology to enhance the learning experience of my students.


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E-Learning Essentials 2020 Copyright © 2020 by Power Learning Solutions is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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