Scott Sinex, Ted Chambers (Prince George’s Community College, USA)
Online collaboration is a vital twenty-first century technology skill. So how can we incorporate it into general chemistry? We have started to use Google Docs spreadsheets and forms to develop online collaboration skills in students. The forms capability in Google Docs allows for easy collection of data for class comparison and student feedback. The information collected in a spreadsheet can be projected for class discussion, or can easily be downloaded and analyzed in Excel. This is a great way to gather class statistics on experimental data. We have started to use the chat feature to start discussion in the laboratory of class data such as looking for uniformity in data or analyzing errors across groups. To do this we post the link to the form for student groups to enter data and then the link to the spreadsheet of data (only instructors can edit) and have students open it in the lab; and with multiple openings the chat feature appears for discussion. The discussion is anonymous unless students or lab groups identify themselves (students are not signed into Google Docs). These mock online collaborations are a great start and demonstrate the ease and power of the technology. Collaborative group projects or reports are a logical next step, which would require students to have a Google account.