Google Docs

Yes, They'll Do the Readings: Engagement & Discussion Using Google Docs

Matt Veto, Lehigh University


In my advanced reporting class at Lehigh University, I take the text and photographs from a number of Pulitzer Prize-worthy articles and copy them into a GoogleDoc that is shared with my students. Using the tools available in GoogleDocs, the students “dissect” the work as they read — essentially annotating passages and inserting comments to explain what they are learning from the writing structure, style or reporting tact the author is taking. They also often react with their feelings to the themes of the piece as a whole. Meanwhile, because the comment function allows for threaded replies, students begin to engage with each other as they read, which capitalizes on their comfort with text-based communication to create a rich group-learning environment that ultimately enhances our resulting in-class reading discussion later in the week.

This assignment format could be translated to any number of disciplines. From a practical standpoint, the assignment ensures students complete the assigned readings, and from a pedagogical standpoint, it encourages them to think critically while they read.

In end-of-semester surveys, the assignment is consistently cited as the students’ favorite part of the class. Outcomes include better writing and more thoughtful reporting, in addition to important lessons on journalistic principles.


Google Docs

Google Docs brings your documents to life with smart editing and styling tools to help you easily format text and paragraphs. Choose from hundreds of fonts, add links, images, and drawings. All for free.

Key Terms/Tags:

Google, collaborate, process-oriented guided inquiry learning

Directions for Google Docs

  1. Visit the Gmail website. If you already have a Gmail account, click the “sign in” prompt in the upper right corner. If you do not already have a Gmail account, you will need to create one.
  2. After signing in, click the square of nine boxes in the upper right corner of the page. Select the “Drive” option.
  3. Once in the Google Drive, select the “New” prompt in the upper left corner. Select the “Google Docs” option in the drop-down list. This will create a new Google Doc.
  4. In the upper left corner box labeled “Untitled Document,” name the Google Doc.
  5. After enter the desired information into the document, select the “Share” button in the upper right corner of the webpage. Enter the e-mail addresses of desired collaborators, then choose whether each collaborator “Can Edit,” “Can Comment,” or “Can View” based on desired permissions. A notification e-mail will be sent to the collaborators with a link to access the document.
  6. Within the Google Drive, collaborators can work simultaneously on the same Google Doc (or Google Slides, Google Sheet, etc.). The items can also be e-mailed as attachments, downloaded as Microsoft documents, or shared publicly via a link in the “Share” settings.