Using GoogleDocs for electronic submissions: can we finally go paperless?

Session Format Presentation and discussion with Panel
Author(s) Kevin Dunn Dept. of Chemical Engineering
Session Abstract

GoogleDocs (more correctly, Google Drive), is available to McMaster undergraduate students as part of their email package. We envisioned a fully electronic workflow for assignments and course projects in August 2012. Came September 2012, it was mandatory that all students (around 90 per class) submit their work via GoogleDocs. The work was also graded electronically by the instructor and TAs. Finally the document was "returned" electronically to the students, where they had a chance to comment back, if required.

There are a number of obvious advantages, such as work can be created (and graded) from any computer, tracking of the document's state from start to end, no lost assignments, and of course, the important sustainability aspect: one step closer to the fabled "paperless office". All of these were met.

But a number of resistances and disadvantages were met along the way, requiring some compromise from the instructor, and some changes to the workflow. We will summarize the advantages and disadvantages from the perspective of the student, the instructor and the TAs. A demonstration, as well as an open-floor discussion for 20 minutes is planned.

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