File templates can be a teacher’s best friend. I published the article “Teaching With Templates” in TCEA’s TechEdge magazine in 1999-2000, and the opening paragraph still rings true in school computer labs and classrooms in 2009:

It is amazing how easy it is to waste time on a computer. Whether a student or a teacher, computer users can literally spend hours fruitlessly searching the internet, changing fonts or sizes, slowly keyboarding in text, or searching for a document they thought they saved in the proper folder instead of completing the task at hand. Just as an experienced driver does not focus principally on the mechanics of shifting and checking for traffic when they are behind the wheel, literate computer users should not spend too much time on the technical aspects of technology tools. Like a driver, computer users should focus on the destination where they are traveling, rather than on the tool helping them get there. To help both students and teachers avoid getting bogged down in the technical details of completing a task with technology, educators can create “template” files that streamline and expedite the document and presentation production process.

Given my historic as well as continuing enthusiasm for the appropriate use of file templates to support digitally enhanced instruction and learning, it should come as no surprise I was overjoyed today to learn Google Documents now supports templates!

Google Docs Templates

Over 300 templates were already available in the publicly browsable / usable Google Templates directory as of July 16th, and today on July 21st the site includes 1297 templates. I wonder how many there will be in a year’s time?! Users can also submit and share their own templates with the world. Like the rest of Google Documents, all of this cloud-based computing collaboration can be accomplished FOR FREE! How amazing is this?! Richard Byrne recommends both bibliography templates and the presentation templates for students as well as educators. The collaborative possibilities here are really astounding.

The two minute video “Using Forms in Google Docs” provides a great overview of how powerful and useful Google Docs (and Google Forms specifically) can be to solicit and manage data via the web.

Google Forms is definitely one of the top “Digital Magic Tricks for Educators” I love to share with teachers, librarians and administrators in some of my educational technology presentations and workshops.

Has your school district embraced the use of Google Documents yet? Whether they have or not, I’d encourage you to embrace them and check out the growing directory time-saving templates available for free download today. I can’t wait to attend the Google Teachers’ Academy in Boulder, Colorado, on August 5th! I’m sure we’ll learn even MORE fantastic ways to extend the uses of Google Tools to support learning and instruction!

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  • http://freetech4teachers.com Richard Byrne

    Wes,

    As you noted, I think that Google Docs templates are quite useful for school settings. I’d like to see a template for “open house” or “parents night” invitations. This would be a handy template for the beginning of the school year. Maybe I’ll get to work on that sometime soon.

    Congratulations on being accepted to GTA in Colorado.

    Richard

  • Monica

    I agree that the Google templates idea is awesome. Check carefully, though. The first bibliography template I opened, purporting to be in MLA format was definitely NOT in that style. Excellent lesson is being always a critical consumer of web resources. Thanks for the info!

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    Good catch and suggestion, Monica.

    I actually think sites like BibMe are the best bet for bibliographies these days, especially for K-12 students. For college students (including grad students) EndNote is great but certainly more costly. I’ve used EndNote myself as a grad student.

    The English WikiPedia has a pretty comprehensive “Comparison of reference management software” article which includes more options. Interestingly BibMe is not listed there. Tammy Worcester demonstrated BibMe at her Oklahoma City Tech Day keynote and it certainly “wowed” the predominantly teacher-audience.

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