Collaborate using shared Google Docs


After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Collaborate with others using shared word processing documents
  • Create a Google Doc
  • Edit a Google Doc
  • Share a Google Doc
  • Translate a Google Doc


The following scenarios show examples of how educators use Google Docs in their classrooms.

Create and share lesson plan documents with other educators

All the 6th-grade teachers develop lesson plans collaboratively. Previously, one educator would create a document and email it to the other five teachers on her team. They would each write comments in the document or send feedback via email, resulting in multiple copies of each document that the original teacher then had to merge back together into one document.

One day, she decides to try using Google Docs to manage this process instead. She drafts the lesson plan and emails it to her peers. They are all able to add to the same Doc and view each others’ comments. This makes it much easier to collaborate on the lesson plans.

Provide formative feedback on student work

A 9th-grade biology teacher assigns his students lab reports during each unit. Previously, students would hand in paper lab reports, and then the teacher would write comments using a red pen and hand them back to the students the following week.

Once he starts requiring his students to submit their lab reports using Google Docs, he finds it is much easier to write comments on their work while it is still in progress or even after they are handed in. This allows him to give the students formative, as well as summative feedback, resulting in a higher quality of work done by the students.

Facilitate real-time, collaborative, student group essays

An 8th-grade English teacher requires his students to write essays analyzing poetry every spring. He would like the students to work collaboratively on these essays, but he has found it difficult to manage the process when they turn in paper essays, since only one student can write on a page at a time.

He now takes his students to the school computer lab, where they work in small groups using Google Docs. Each student can work at their own computer while looking at the same document. He creates a template for the assignment; students then copy this template and edit the document in teams. The educator can check the revision history to see which student contributed which elements of the project. This enables the educator to give the students an authentic, accountable group essay project. The educator can also write comments to the students while their work is in progress.


Create a Google Doc

To create a Google Doc:

  1. Navigate to
  2. Select Create and then Document. If you do not see a red Create button, select New and then, Google Docs.

Edit a Google Doc

Similar to other word processing software, you start with a blank page to edit a document:

  1. Start typing in the document.
  2. Use the formatting bar to change the font, font size, color, and so on.

Share a Google Doc

Docs, Sheets, and Slides have the same sharing interface. To share a Google Doc:

  1. Click Share.
  2. Add a list of email addresses, and select the level of access (View, Edit, Comment).
  3. If you want to email a link for others to view your document, copy the URL from the navigation bar.

Translate a Google Doc

To translate a document:

  1. From the Tools menu, select Translate document.
  2. Type in the name of the new document, select the language into which you would like to translate the document.
  3. Click OK. A translated copy of your document will be created. You can access this copy in your Drive at

Classroom connections

You and your students can use the information you have learned in this lesson in the following ways:

  • Take meeting notes in a Google Doc and share the notes with your entire staff. Staff members can access the notes at any time.
  • Have students collaboratively work from anywhere.
  • Use revision history to hold students accountable for their work.
  • Use multiple sharing settings to publish student work by sharing it within your class, within your school, or making it public on the web.
  • Brainstorm notes for group projects - With a record of everyone's thoughts in one place, no good idea gets left behind.
  • Engage in group planning for projects - Each member can contribute his information and the teacher can view the revision history anytime.
  • Make collaborative study guides - Invite everyone to the same Google Doc and copy and paste your class notes.
  • Class trip planning - Let everyone contribute to your itinerary in a document, track your budget in a spreadsheet, etc.
  • Display a Doc on the board and correct it using the live edit function to show students how to improve their work.
  • Get a friend to proofread your work - share an essay with a friend who can proofread and comment on your work.

Learn more


In this activity, you have a chance to practice skills, get feedback, and check your understanding of how to use Google Docs.

Part A. Create, edit, and translate a Google Doc

Create a Google Doc and start a lesson plan. What topic will you teach? What are the objectives? How long will the lesson be? What are the activities?

Figure 1. Sample lesson plan from Google’s Computational Thinking curriculum: What is Data.

Translate the lesson plan to a different language for a classroom in a different region or country. Then translate the document back to your original language.

Part B. Share a Google Doc

Share the lesson plan you created with a teacher, friend or colleague. Encourage them to give you feedback by commenting on your document.

Part C. How will you use this tool?

Please answer all questions in order to receive credit for this project.

Please answer all questions in order to receive credit for this project.

Extra credit

Browse the Docs templates for Students & Teachers in the Template Gallery. (Or search for a specific topic, like lesson plans.) If you find one you would like to use, click Use this template.