Google announced this week that Google Docs would now be accessible offline. In other words, you can now create and modify documents on a computer not connected to the Internet. When your access comes back, your documents are synced and updated.
This is a big deal for students. Here’s why:
1. It solves the problem of intermittent Internet access.
Many of my students have faulty Internet connections. Their service at home is spotty. Now they can keep working on their essays without fearing they’ll lose their work.
2. It really helps students with laptops.
Many of my students have a laptop as their primary computer, but it’s not always easy to find Internet access. Google Docs offline solves this problem. Now my students can just keep on working, wherever they are, and then sync back up once they have access.
Although Google Docs offline is wonderful, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it is computer-specific. This means that your documents are viewable to others sharing your computer. Second, it doesn’t work yet on spreadsheets and presentations. This capability, I’m sure, will come soon. Third, it works only with the Chrome browser. But that’s not a big deal.
Most important, Google Docs offline doesn’t solve the problem of students who have a desktop computer and no Internet access at all at home. Those students will still have to rely on their phones.
Still, it’s pretty amazing how quickly technology is trying to deal with the digital divide. Just five years ago at my school, we were still dealing with Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, and flash drive viruses. Those were not good times. Then came Google Apps, and since then, my students’ writing skills and confidence with technology have both improved.
Here’s more information about Google Docs offline.