Using Google Docs for Peer Editing

I’ve recently posted on how I share a Google Doc with students.  One of my goals using Google Docs with students is for them to become better editors of each others work.  With that in mind, I’ve taught my students a few simple ways to edit each others works in Google Docs.

Over time, I’d like my students to become purveyors of their own work more and more.  The idea (and I’m sure it’s not mine) is for the students to be able to critically analyze what each other written work to improve their own writing.

So far, I think it’s an effective tool.  The catch is, that the feedback needs to be authentic and not just fluff.  Of course, this is where teaching instruction comes into play.

Google Docs, how do I love thee. Let me count the ways…

Recently in class I tried for the first time to implement Google Docs for a writing assignment.  My goal in doing this was:

  1. Have the students experience how collaboration works online with a peer.
  2. Provide a forum where feedback could easily (and legibly) be given.
  3. Cut back on wasted paper, lost papers, and increase organization.

So far, I’m loving this experience.

With Google recently adding the folders feature, it makes it really easy for me to sort me student’s papers by class, and see who their peer editing partner is, and when they are actually accessing the doc.

Sorting classes and studens in the folder view is a breeze.
Sorting classes and students in the folder view is a breeze.

Since I assigned students a peer editing partner, they knew exactly who would be viewing their doc (other than me).  In the past comments and constructive feedback was given, it would typically be in the margin in my sloppy handwriting, and not in the context of the writing at all, with crazy lines and arrows going all over the place.  Here, they are neat, orderly, and very legible.  A student reading their doc with feedback and easily see what they need to do to improve upon their writing.

Peer editing is much more effective.
Peer editing is much more effective.

I really think that this will improve my students writing quite a bit.  It’s a lot faster for me to give feedback to them they can actually use instead of the obligatory “Good job!”, or, “Needs work”.  By manipulating the text without changing the text for them, I can teach them how to be better editors of their own work, as well as providing constructive feedback for others.

A great example of what how Google Docs can improve writing.
A great example of how Google Docs can improve writing.