For years, I mostly used Google Docs as a tool to jointly write, give feedback, and edit documents with colleagues. More recently I’ve been experimenting with different uses of Google Docs that leverage anonymous participation and the fact that all contributing can see what others are writing in real time. Below are a few ways I use Google Docs in my job as a community college librarian. I’d love to hear how you use Google Docs.
Warm up for Library Instruction
When I do instruction for Composition 2 classes, I like to start by finding out what students already know. When teaching in person, I sometimes do this using post it notes. Teaching online, I started giving students 5 minutes at the beginning of class to respond on a Google Doc called Share Your Experiences with Research. I ask students to share either a research tip or a question. Then we discuss what they wrote. It is a great way to warm up and get students active at the beginning of class. Later in the class, I use the same Google Doc to ask students to brainstorm keywords for their topic. It is helpful to have all of these activities together in one document, so I can share one link for the interactive parts of the lesson.
Shared Document for Online Resource Fair
When our face to face college resource fair couldn’t happen last year due to the pandemic, we wanted to figure out a way to put it online. I set up a Google Doc for the Online Resource Fair and asked representatives from the different student service and academic affairs areas who usually attend the fair to add the top 3 questions that they get from faculty and/or students. Then, during the faculty professional activity (PA) days, we provided access to the Google Doc from the PA Day Website. We told faculty they could read the information and also add questions. Staff checked the document at the end of PA Days and responded to questions. Although only two questions were added to the document, faculty did report that they found the information was helpful. And using Google Docs was an easy way to gather information from many different units on campus and present it to faculty. I did some editing after the information was added to standardize the format, but it was a lot easier that putting together information from a lot of emails.
Interactive Transcript Review Activity
At a recent online conference presentation about virtual reference, I used a Google Doc to help facilitate an interactive Transcript Review Activity. I put the directions for the activity at the top of the page, provided the text of a transcript to review, and gave space for librarians to share their observations. Then we discussed the observations as a group. I plan to repeat this activity with librarians at our college as it was a great way to review virtual reference best practices in an online format.
Group Brainstorming during a Staff Meeting
Last year, our Library was part of a renovation project and we needed to discuss what to name our new space. It was a difficult issue to discuss as we all had very strong feelings about the topic. For our online meeting, I created a Google Doc and asked all staff to spend 10 minutes making suggestions and asking questions on the document before we had a discussion. Because it was something people felt very strongly about, it was helpful to have time to write down our ideas first, before speaking. More staff had a chance to weigh in, as some might have been reluctant to speak up during the meeting. And we coiud all see a variety of ideas on the shared document before we started to discuss them as a group.
How do you use Google Docs in your work? Are there other technology tools you’d like us to feature in this monthly column?