Microsoft Word and Google Docs are word processing programs and serve roughly the same purpose. Both are standard , easy-to-use programs that you should use. I use them daily. They can be used for notes, worksheets, tests, brainstorming, and anything that requires typing. They may not be glamorous or the “newest tech”, but they are workhorses that can do a lot more than most people think.
Word vs Docs
Microsoft Word is the default word processing program that has been around for years. It is more powerful than Docs and can do more complex formatting. It costs money (though many computers come with it) and is not installed on student Chromebooks. Students may not have access to Word, but Docs can read and convert Word documents without any problem.
Docs is Google’s free version of Word. It is not as powerful but is free with any Google account. It is also great for the ability for multiple people to be able to edit the same document. It runs through a web browser and all students can use it with their Chromebooks. It can be a pain, though, to edit documents if you don’t have an Internet connection.
Both are fairly easy to learn and easy to work with. They are some of the simplest and fastest ways to create digital content.
Access for Students and Parents
Docs can easily be shared with students and parents. You can share them individually or by folder en-masse using Google Drive. This makes them a great 2-way communication tool.
Updating and Modifying
Both are easy to update and modify.
Word has been around for years and will continue to be so. Docs is newer, but it should be around for a long time. It is also easy to convert files from both to other platforms, so they are very safe to use.
Word costs money, but is free for students and educators. Docs is free.
Both are go-to programs for me. At least 50% of my digital content is in this form. They are easy to use, powerful, and universal. If I am creating something digitally, it normally starts in Word and then if needed, I move it to a different platform if Word doesn’t work for the project. I generally create things in Word and then move them to Docs because the Internet connection I have is not always reliable. They are easy for students to use, easy to share, multiple people can modify them, and the list goes on. Worksheets, tests, quizzes, notes all start in Word for me.
Student Interaction Examples
1. Student Notes (Computer Science Hardware Notes): I often have students take notes digitally in Docs. I may provide a starter template or let them create their own from a blank document. I link to them directly from my web page or Google Classroom to make it easy for the students to access. Students can make their own copy of the file and then add their notes.
2. Assignments (Research Projects) : If you want students to respond to questions, Docs is one of the simplest ways to do it. I have students answer the questions in these research project documents and then submit them so I can verify their research before they create their research project. Google Classroom can be used to manage the turning in of the assignments.
3. Collaboration and Brainstorming. They can be used for multiple people to collaborate and brainstorm in a single document. The district has used this many times recently for Q & A documents for getting feedback about school reopening. No, it’s not as glamorous and fancy as Jamboard, Padlet, Flipgrid, etc, but it is a whole lot easier. It is also a whole lot easier to reorganize the information from a Doc than from Jamboard or Padlet.
4. Gradebooks. For years, I have created individual gradebooks for individual students using Word/Docs, even for face-to-face classes. The official gradebook is in PowerSchool, but I use this for students to keep track of their own progress. It also allows both the student and I to comment about their work. It is shared with the students and parents and the students can modify it. Sometimes I have all the assignments and sometimes I just have major projects in it. I also like it because all of my communication about grades with an individual student is in one location that I can easily return to. No hunting through email, PowerSchool, Google Classroom, etc. for the comments. They are a bit of work upfront for me to set up and maintain (I have to create 100 of them), but a lot of the initial setup is a just copy, paste, duplicate. They gives me a great location to individually communicate with students online. Since students can modify it and keep track of their own grades, they do often catch mistakes in my official PowerSchool gradebook. (Any disagreements about grades are quickly settled by having them show me their work. This is also why I tell them never to throw out their work until the grading is done.e