The thing that makes Google Docs so useful in the classroom is it's collaboration capabilities. I shared it with my eighth graders with two thoughts in mind. First that it would provide them with an excellent avenue to work on their assignments both at school and at home without having to worry about how to move files back and forth. Second, as a means to collaborate on a slide show. Part of their current assignment is to create a visual aid and some students are creating slide shows. I thought Google Docs would aid them in doing this since they can collaborate on the project at the same time, from different computers, at different locations.
I really did not expect them to embrace this technology so quickly and start using it to review each others work without being asked. Granted not all students did this, but the handful that did was pretty astonishing. There are so many educators/administrators out there that think many of us use technology just for the sake of using it (this thought could be a blog in itself someday). That attitude is unfortunate because they miss the fact that by putting the tools in the student's hands that they use in their daily lives, we find that students often exceed our expectations and create the productive learning environment we strive for on a daily basis.
I am also in the process of having my junior and senior environmental science students collaborate and write a paper together. I created roles for the students and gave them a topic related to what we are learning about currently in class. This little experiment started off kind of rocky because I did not realize only 10 students can edit a document at a time. So I have retooled a bit and I am ready to see where they take it after thanksgiving break.