How I Use It
In preparing for a large school community festival where my students at Qatar Academy were responsible for planning, prepping and delivering a games carnival, I utilised Google Docs (Excel) to help students (and me!) name, plan and execute their games. Grade 8 students, in a 1-to-1 Macbook program with the school, immediately understood what to do in small groups once I showed them the Google template I had set up in Excel, and it allowed me to monitor in real time their work progress as a group because, of course, you can see each writer simultaneously working. It was absolutely outstanding. Students could consult with other groups and see where they were falling short of or exceeding expectations. I know that my successor used this approach to planning the festival, also. I continue to use this as an organisational tool for planning events. The advantage, also, is that all students in groups sign up with their email, and you can then email every student an update. To keep students on track when I couldn't see them (I only had them once a week), this was critical.
Caveat: some schools, especially in the UK, are squeamish about this) but in the end it's up to schools to sort out how they do student email. Students often don't look at school emails, and often they have their own Gmail accounts and wanted to use those directly so that they didn't have to keep signing out to log in as a school email address user, etc. I was fortunate to work under a head of IT that recognised the complexities here. In the end, it was up to the students to decide how they would read their emails. We do have to train students to use the school tools/address we give them, I believe.
Highly recommended. Not flashy, but extremely effective to use the Google Excel or database doc, especially for group events planning and management. Allowed for emailing every member critical updates in between planning in and outside of class.