An Introduction to Online Word Processing

(Repost from 12/04/2009)

This video provides a great overview of the concept of online productivity tools (word processor, presentations, spreadsheets) in under 3 minutes.


Click to take a look at Google Docs and Zoho Writer.

See this tutorial on collaborating with others with web applications like Google Docs.

Consider how these kinds of technologies could be integrated with teaching and learning and leave your ideas in the comments section below.

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Clif Mims is a Christian, husband, father, teacher, cancer warrior, and fan of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Memphis Grizzlies.

61 thoughts on “An Introduction to Online Word Processing”

  1. To begin, the fact that Google has come up with yet another AMAZING resource, Google Docs, for educators, students, and the general public just shows how rapid technology is changing. Even further Google offers these services for FREE!!!! To anyone living on a college budget or in this economy, knows how affordable free is :))))) Google Docs is a great resource that can be used in any environment educational, business, and for personal use. Not having to “save” all the time is a great tool as well, but we still need to teach our students to practice manually saving because what happens when that option fades out?! Overall, Google Docs and any Google product can be integrated into any type of setting!

  2. I definitely see how Google Docs can be very useful. Although I thought it was confusing at first, and am still having a little trouble used to using Google Docs and Google Drive, I do see the convenience in using it instead of word, pages, etc. I recently got a Mac and have had to get used to using Pages. It is extremely confusing to me, and Google Docs is much more like what I am used to. Google Docs makes it much easier for teachers to assign group projects without having to worry about students not being able to collaborate all of their ideas at one time. This way, they can post their ideas or writing and others can look at it and edit it. This always seems to be a problem in the classroom. I also like how it automatically saves your documents just in case something were to happen while typing or editing a document and it had not been saved yet (which has happened to me :/). It’s free and after a little getting used to, is a great tool for the classroom.

    1. Will it continue to be free, or will they eventually start charging?

      1. Elizabeth,

        This is a fair question, but it’s hard to respond with absolute certainty. Google has consistently stated that Google Drive will remain free. The company has a good track record for keeping such promises, too. Google relies on making it’s revenues through a variety of other services and venues. I expect that Google Drive will remain free, but it’s difficult to predict the future…especially in the tech world.

  3. Google Docs at first to me was confusing because I have been raised on computers with word on them and that has been my end all version of word processing. But I started loving Google Docs when I realized that it was automatically saving my changes under the same file without me having to push the ‘save’ button or exiting out of the application. I enjoy that I have acess to files that I can ‘share’ with other people without having to email attachments. This is a great tool to use in the classroom especially when it comes to the writing process. I see English teachers carrying only a laptop instead of tons of paper around with students drafts of documetns with the aide of Google Docs.

  4. Google Docs is a very effecient tool. The account is easy to access and it’s free. The presentation tools and storage capacity is amazing. Personally, I am impressed with the fact that the application automatically saves the information as you are composing the document. Google docs is available at all times. I enjoy that I can access my account and work on projects without the need for a flash drive. I am able to share important content and upload information by just pressing a key. Google Docs makes creating and submitting assignments a breeze. Lastly, Google Docs is just an example of how technology enhances learning.

  5. Prior to this class, I had never heard of Google Docs, much less used it. I love it! You don’t have to save your information because it does it automatically, use a flash drive, e-mail yourself a back-up copy, or anything of the sort. I remember that my son had to use a “Wiki” in hhis 6th grade class to turn in some work to his teacher. In my opinion, Google Docs would have been much more convenient for the students and the teacher. While working in class, he could of used this instead of his flash drive and the completed it at home and giving his teacher access to it. Students could use it for projects, essays, and any sort of homework. Let’s face it…the last thing a teenager needs is to try to keep up with something as small as a flash drive. Google Docs takes the place of unneccessary paperwork and back-up devices. Also, if a students is struggling on an assignment, a teacher can easily access their work to offer one-on-one advice and/or direction.

    1. Tammy, I’m with you! I admit at first, I kept wanting to hit a save button during the composition process and had to learn to trust the feature. Google Drive is a great new “mother-ship.” I think it will be helpful for younger, less experienced students, as well. I did my grad work while out of town all last week, and accessibility was not a concern using Google Docs. We’ll have to come up with a new mantra…”save and save often” will soon be an anachronism. 🙂

  6. Google Docs is a great tool. Before this class I had not used it. There a much more benefits then I realized. I do know of people that use it to turn in their lesson plans. I thought that was a great idea because it makes commenting on them much easier. Google Docs could be beneficial to many people including students and teachers. It could easily give teachers the ability to monitor students progress on work and give instant feedback.

  7. Great visual of how Google Docs work. I believe it would be of great benefit for group projects and assisting in the collaborative process. As well, it’s great to see the progress your student has made from first draft to final. I have just learned about it this semester but my 7th grader began using it at the start of the school year. He attends a local private school where the middle school teachers have introduced it. They also keep us updated regarding assignments and events using the google calendar. It has been a great time saver for my son. He has used it to work on a paper while driving in the car and waiting for an appointment. However, my 9th grader had no knowledge of it’s many benefits. He was collaborating on a project over the weekend with a group of peers while using text messages and emails. My younger son and I introduced him to the benefits of Google Docs and it was a much “cleaner” process.

    1. Julie, it is neat for your sons to see you learning and to have actually experienced a new tech tool before them! 🙂 I like too, your comment about being able to see a student’s writing progress through this tool.

  8. How simple this would be for creating a grade level newsletter to share school-wide, with parents, or globally. Teachers would be able to share the responsibility of contributing to the newsletter with flexibility and equity. Colleagues would be able to see the document-in-progress at all times, and work collaboratively to complete it.

  9. What an excellent breakdown of how Google Docs works. I have had a Gmail account for many years but have only recently started taking advantage of the many tools Google gives me to use as a teacher. Since learning more about Google, I have recently purchased a Chromebook and am slowly falling in love with it and Google. Talk about functionality. Google is way ahead of the game in my book.

  10. This is a great visual of how Google Doc can foster to any word processing need. I am thrilled we will be using this as the primary Word Processor for 7061. In the past I had only used Google Docs to view others work, but I am eager to learn a new skill. Now there is no worry for students to have left their jump drive at home. (As long as there as Internet access). Any cloud based tool is phenomenal because students will be able to collaborate effectively when doing group work.

  11. I first used Google docs when I was doing a lesson plan with a partner and we were unable to get together because of our schedule and the distance we lived apart. The great thing about Google docs was we were able to create the document together and discuss it through chat in real time. I feel that Google docs would be beneficial when used on team projects where the students are able to create documents together, yet apart, in real time. I feel as a teacher it is a great tool to monitor students progress during projects and the students are able to get instant feedback from the instructor.

  12. Love this technology. It is great for teachers especially when doing research papers. Students can have access to your opinion at all times basically. No more waiting until the weekend is over to ask the teacher if something is correct. Only issue I see is for those who can not afford internet or computer access, Will they be left behind if we move to far toward this type of instruction. I could not use this at my school because about 70% of the students do not have access to the internet.

    1. I first used Google docs when I was doing a lesson plan with a partner and we were unable to get together because of our schedule and the distance we lived apart. The great thing about Google docs was we were able to create the document together and discuss it through chat in real time. I feel that Google docs would be beneficial when used on team projects where the students are able to create documents together, yet apart, in real time. I feel as a teacher it is a great tool to monitor students progress during projects and the students are able to get instant feedback from the instructor.

  13. This is a great technology that I have actually utilized in undergrad. I first used Google docs when working on a group paper. I also used this technology when I was working on a group project that included different components including a paper and a presentation. I would use this technology in my classroom for group projects and presentations and also as a great tool for my students to get feedback from me on their essays and research papers without the endless paper drafts. This could be a great tool for peer editing too instead of doing the assignments with regular printed copies, more than one student could review a peers paper via Google docs!

  14. I did not know about Google Docs prior to this link. I was very impressed at what the application can do. From teaching English prior and understanding that certain papers that are submitted need to have multiple drafts and those things can get confusing remembering which draft might have been the most revised. Google Docs helps keep things more organized and has more security to keep from many outsiders getting the information that is submitted on the internet. It is a great way to implementnew technology to the students as well.

  15. I have never seen anything about this before, but the ideas are popping into my head. To not have to get all those English papers and hand edit them would be very nice! I bet the students would love it, as well. Also, the English teachers have to write out curriculum standards this year, and we could collaborate without having more than one document to edit.

    I also liked how simplistic the video was, as it explained something extremely high-tech!

  16. I have been guilty of sending countless numbers of emails with attachments (with numerous revisions). 🙁 I think this is an excellent option for shared writing activities with my first grade class. 🙂

  17. Google Docs is the way! This past year, my colleagues and I were able to collaborate on mid-term and final exams for our 9th grade English students to ensure that we had a working database of questions/exams, etc… The use of Google Docs made the process very smooth, wherein everyone could add their preferences and the documents (or exams) were kept in a safe, accessible “library” available to everyone in our department.

  18. I use word processing using Microsoft Word in my Spanish classes to help students writing compositions or completing exercises. The advantage is that Word corrects the work immediately and the student verify the mistakes right away.

    I try to use Google docs but it is giving me an error. I will try again because can be very useful.

  19. Google Docs is certainly convenient. I used it in the past but stopped due to security concerns. Here’s an example of some major security issues:
    The company claims to have fixed this. I’m still hesitant to use sites like this, though.
    I found a similar story regarding Zoho Writer:
    In this case, too, the company claims to have fixed the problem.
    Zoho currently says on their website that they plan to offer encryption services to paid subscribers in the future.
    Does anyone know of a free document sharing site that does offer encryption?

  20. This is the first time I have heard about Google docs but I think I will try it in my class this fall. I am going to use it to create a study guide for my test. Instead of a dropbox like I had orginally planned I will use this instead. I will create the orginal document just labeled Test study guide and the students will edit it by adding questions to it with the correct answer. I can edit the answer if it is incorrect or needs more details. I will also use this to assess what concepts my students are keying in on.

  21. So far, I’ve only used Google docs to give myself and my colleges access to documents I’ve already created. Having the only or current copy stored solely in Google docs makes me a bit nervous about losing information (probably an unfounded fear) and not being able to access it if/when my internet goes down. I will have to think about how I could use this with in my classroom.

    I love the video. It’s a bit funny that it’s advertising technology and is made to look like the creation was low-tech.

  22. This was also my first time hearing about Google Doc. I think that it will be of great asset, especially having to attach documents one by one with email. Not only that, but having to wait until each document loads (which tends to make me a little impatient). What a wonderful idea.

  23. I think this is great technology! I myself am a fan of’s Buzzword. This would have been so helpful during group projects in school! It also would have been great when I needed someone to proofread my project or paper before I submitted it. I will absolutely be using this in my classroom!

  24. I have known about google docs, and even used it a couple of time. However I have never thought about using in the classroom. What a fantastic idea! As a high school math teacher, I think it would be good for them to have to make graphs and/or charts using some information they’ve obtained on their own. I would require that they upload their final product on google docs, and allow the class to view and comment on all work.

  25. This would allow teachers to put in articles and assign certain students to edit it. This is a great concept for a techer, allowing time for grading and input. It also seems to offer endless opportunities for ways to implement technology into the classroom and increase the technological expertise of our students.

  26. Very cool didn’t know that this existed. Makes very much sense to use, but the only thing I do not understand is if two people are making corrections on the document at the same time. Great tool to use for classmates who have group projects and presentations. Group questions could be done online along with reading responses.

  27. Ive never heard of Google Doc until today but have seen it from time to time when I log into my gmail account. This is a creatice way to prevent all those extra emails regarding the same things. I might use this!

  28. What a fabulous invention! I had no idea this was available. I am going to suggest this to PTA and church groups that collaborate on meeting minutes and newsletters. These email attachments do fill up your inbox especially if graphics and pictures are used and there is no issues of compatibility with different versions of software. In the classroom, a teacher could use this in group projects such a classroom newsletter or charity project. The students would be able to work together in the classroom or at an off-site location. It also eliminates “Do I have the latest update of this?” issue. Usually during the holidays, the class puts together a cookbook of the children’s favorite recipes. This could easily be used to add recipes and cut out the email or retyping a hard copy brought in. Last year, we had several teachers retire. A memory book was put together with many emails and comments through out the year. Having a program like Google Docs, we would have been able to stream line the process of collecting those memories. People would be more likely to participate if minimal effort is needed on their part.

  29. GoogleDocs is an amazing tool that our college uses frequently. The most recent collaboration we did was with our College Bylaws. We uploaded them and then added all of our College Council members to the document so that we were all editing the same document and would all have the “latest” version. In a previous class, our group used Google Docs to prepare a presentation collaboratively. It allowed us to minimize the times we had to meet “in person” to make suggestions and changes to the presentation. We could add notes and suggestions to increase the effectiveness of our project. Instead of emailing the teacher the final product, we could add him/her to the site to view the final submission.

    This is an extremely useful tool in the classroom and the workplace!


  30. I have used google documents in the past but only to review meetings from minutes. I did not understand the editing and space saving features. I saw it more as a way to share reports that typically waste paper in community meetings. I think integrating this type of technology in the classroom will be beneficial for the students of all ages and their parents. The instant feedback can increase student learning and parents can see where their student may need help at home. I also think the compatibility issues are resolved. I often work between two computers and find that sometimes I do not always have the latest version of a document. Finally, I think google documents can be used between teachers as a way to offer new teachers feedback on lesson plans.

  31. I had no idea these appliations were available. It is good to know becasue I was thinkging about upgrading my Microsoft Office which would have cost but these are free. I think this is a good way for school districts to cut spending by introducing this to more students and the ability to share and get input is awesome. A teacher could assign the students to proofread the assignment and submit correction to students. Paper is becoming more and more obselete. This is also a good tool for procrastinators that need immediate help from a friend that has no way to meet but can communicate over the web.
    I plan to share this with my colleagues.

  32. I wish I would have this ten, well 15 years ago. All the files I lost and had to due over or all the files I accidentally used old versions of. This would be great for document management and collaboration!

  33. I think google docs and zoho are GREAT advances in technology. I can’t say that my students have the need at the age of 3 for this type of technology yet. However, as a teacher I do use spreadsheets. My home computer does not have microsoft word on it. I was in the airport and needed to submit a document to my boss covering things that I did while on a professional development trip. I almost had a breakdown, but then realized that I could use google docs….it saved me 🙂

  34. I, too, have felt the pain of sending multiple versions of the same document over and over. As tech-savvy as I usually consider myself to be, I have not really had any experience with these programs yet. I can definitely see applications for the classroom, however.

    The immediately obvious application is for papers written in class, be they research or creative. Students write their first drafts, upload them to google docs, and allow the teacher access. The students could also allow collaborators and peers access for group projects or peer tutoring. The teacher or collaborators can leave real-time feedback, thus allowing the writers to revise. And all without the need for constant re-saving. I like it.

  35. This is the first time that I have ever heard of Google Docs. I think it is great and very creative. Integrating this into the classroom would be easy and very interesting because it will give students an opportunity to work freely in groups on projects and more. I think it’s a great tool, but not just for teachers. The new age technology is going to make our jobs a lot more fun and easier. Just by clicking a button or two you can have everything you need in an orderly and timely fashion. How great is that?

  36. Google Docs would be a great asset for classroom small group projects. The students would be able to contribute more easily outside of the classroom and colabotation would be easier. The teacher would be able to see who was contributing and how much for grading. I like it a lot and can absolutly see useing it in the classroom.

  37. The video on googledocs was interesting. I was not aware this program was out there. It would be a great technique to use for business proposals or meetings. The usage of this may save people a lot of time and money. Althought it provides and easy way to collaborate, I am not sure I would feel comfortable using it due because we still have to deal with hackers. Passwords do not always protect information an individual may not want to share with the general public.Therefore, my main concern would be how confidential and safe is googledocs.

  38. Google Documents is a fantastic way to involve students in education. The collaborative and distance-based qualities to Google Docs can certainly enhance and augment a lesson — and cut down on certain types of administrative overhead for the teacher. However, if most students in the class do not have easy access to a computer (namely, at home), the gain achieved from using these technologies is minimized.

  39. I think GoogleDocs would be an awesome concept in the classroom. I have never used it before, but it seems like a more advanced version of wikispaces. I used wikispaces in my last grad class over the summer. We all collaborated on one piece of work, but the downside of it was that we could not see past versions of our paper and could not see who collaborated on what in particular pages. Google Docs sounds like it has solved that problem.

  40. I love Google Docs. I used it often in undergrad because of problems with document compatability. I have even used Google docs as a center in my classroom. The students were required to edit a paragraph as a method of applying what we learned about the writing process. I was able to see all of their versions, and everything was all in one place.

  41. I absolutely love google docs. When I was drafting my first professional resume I used it to set up correspondence between myself and a mentor. It was so much more convenient than email since he could make adjustments and recommendations on the document itself without having to download and save and all that.

  42. My first experience using Google Docs was earlier this summer in another graduate class. Although there was no collaboration with the documents I created, I loved how easy the publishing element was. There are useful and creative templates that make Word seem old school. I can not wait to try this with my students!

  43. I think this advancement of Google Docs is great! It saves time and energy. I have not used this before but I look forward to trying it and showing it to my students.

  44. This is the first time I have heard of Google docs or anything like it. It sounds like it would be really beneficial in getting rid of excessive attachments. I will try it!

  45. This was a new concept to me, too. I can’t wait to share it with my students, who often have difficulty finding flash drives, or other storage devices for their word processing documents. I can also see using these programs to “check-in” on student progress, while they are working on a project. I would also like to use this in group work, so multiple people have access to the same document, without having to find storage devices, or email access. Very few of my students have internet access, but with this I could send a few to the library or computer labs, and then send partners to review or edit later. This might allow us to keep moving in class, and on projects.

  46. I am very familiar with Google docs. I used this at a previous job and it was a fantastic way to organize documents and allowed me to make changes from home, work, school, etc. I think that this technology would be a great use in my classroom by utilizing it with papers. Students could submit rough drafts and I would have the ability to edit and give feedback in a very efficient manner.

  47. I see the benefits of Google Docs, but what use is this in my classroom when none of my students have Internet access?

  48. Google Docs are great! I use them every so often for myself, like when opening docs in Gmail, but I have never thought about applying technology to my classroom. It would be a really easy way for students completing group projects to access their information, make any changes to the original document, etc. Another cool thing to do would be to have the students submit their assignment via google docs, so that the parents can see their grades as soon as they’re updated. My brother’s school uses their school website for all of this, and the parents can access it as well. However, for schools that do not have an up-to-date website for assignments, this is a great solution.

  49. This is AWESOME!!!! Using this type of integrated technology in the classroom will create a more advanced, engaging, and motivating learning environment for my students. I’m excited about implementing this in my classroom this school year. Here are a variety of ways I can use online processing in my classroom.

    Cooperative Learning/Collaboration – Students can work on a single project together and I can keep track of their progress and participation. I can also collaborate with other teachers about lesson plans and the progress of other students. It can be used for peer editing – students could edit and comment on each other’s essays. I can also use it as a teaching tool to help students enhance and improve their writing process skills.

    I can keep track of grades and attendance. Communicate with students and their parents. Students can email me their homework and/or other assignments creating a paperless classroom.In addition to all the above, it can be used to open up the line of communication with the real world by interacting with experts and professionals around the world.

  50. One of my friends is a teacher at a charter school in Memphis. He started using google docs this past school year. He absolutely loves it. There are a lot more applications you can do with google docs other than editing papers. He used google docs for practice quizes. He would post the quiz and then by using excel he set it up so that the student would get instant grading feedback, and he could also get feedback concerning his students performance.

  51. I LOVE Google Documents! I used these in a previous job where the whole staff needed access to one document. However, not all staff members needed to be able to change or edit the document. It was great!

    As a teacher I think that using Google docs will help me and my students. Now, when they are writing a research or persuasive paper, I no longer have to wrestle with the hardly functioning iBook printers. I can have my students save their drafts to Google docs. Then I can log on and edit these drafts. My students can update the draft and the submit the final version for a grade. All without loosing the originals or killing innocent trees.

    Also, I use PowerPoint a lot with my students. I require them to make presentations on certain topics. I was frustrated having to deal with the incompatability I ran into from switching from a PC to a Mac. Now I know everything will be compatiable and that my students are saving the presentations in the correct format. Also this removes the issue of requiring my students to have a flash drive. Less money for them and less frustrations for me. I can’t wait to try this out next year!

  52. Online word-processing is an excellent example of mash ups. I started using Google docs when I was a TA for a course. The students and I collaborated on a poster presentation. It proved to be easy and convenient. I came to know about recently and it seems to have some great features too. I can’t wait to start using it.

  53. I haven’t heard of Google Docs or Zoho Writer before today and I think this concept is a great advancement of technology in the world of word processing. I believe that this is a great way for students to learn basic computer funtions in class that they will be able to use later in the work world. It also saves both the teachers and the students the hassle of dealing with situations where there are problems with saving or retrieving documents.

  54. I had not heard of Google docs until today, but it seems like it would be quite useful. It seems like a great way to keep things organized when you are working with a team. I think I would use it in my classroom for group projects so I could see what each student was contributing. I think its also great because of all the paper we can save by using it too!

  55. Zoho and Google docs allow teachers and students to create documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and many other types of interactive documents. Students and teachers can edit and share online documents with other people. Together, people have the ability to synchronously communicate and edit the same project. If the group cannot make a decision on a particular topic/subject, they could incorporate Zoho polls. This great feature allows one to create a poll, vote and determine which choice is the winner.

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