An anonymous reader shares a report: As more and more laptops find their way into middle and high schools, educators are using Google Docs to do collaborative exercises and help students follow along with the lesson plan. The students, however, are using it to organize running conversations behind teachers’ backs. Teens told me they use Google Docs to chat just about any time they need to put their phone away but know their friends will be on computers. Sometimes they’ll use the service’s live chat function, which doesn’t open by default, and which many teachers don’t even know exists. Or, they’ll take advantage of the fact that Google allows users to highlight certain phrases or words, then comment on them via a pop-up box on the right side: They’ll clone a teacher’s shared Google document, then chat in the comments, so it appears to the causal viewer that they’re just making notes on the lesson plan. If a teacher approaches to take a closer look, they can click the “Resolve” button and the entire thread will disappear.
If the project isn’t a collaborative one, kids will just create a shared document where they’ll chat line by line in what looks like a paragraph of text. “People will just make a new page and talk in different fonts so you know who is who,” Skyler said. “I had one really good friend and we were in different homerooms. So, we’d email each other a doc and would just chat about whatever was going on.” At the end of class, they just delete a doc or resolve all the comments. Rarely does anyone save them the way previous generations may have stored away paper notes from friends.
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