Facebook Messenger? No. WhatsApp? Hardly. Sneaky paper notes? Far from it. The hottest medium for chatting in a classroom for students is Google Docs, which is ironic considering how the app was supposed to facilitate collaboration among student groups and boost their productivity.
In an interview with The Atlantic’s Taylor Lorenz, high school students confessed how scrawling notes on a piece of paper, folding it up and passing it on to someone during a lecture is a thing of the past. A far more convenient (and more interesting) substitute is gossiping via Google Doc’s live chat function. Of course, the best part is that neither teachers nor parents have any reason to be suspicious.
The induction of laptops in schools has only increased in recent years as the administrations have become cognizant of the need to keep up with the times and give their students a more effective platform for studying and academic collaboration.
In fact, this is where Google products like Docs, Sheets, and Slides come in; they allow teachers to post group assignments or projects and students can then log on and collaborate on them remotely. Clearly, working together for the sake of classroom grades has never been easier, but the same can be said for gushing to your friends about the person you’ve started going out with.
Aside from relying on the live chat function, students admitted in the interview to taking advantage of the comment boxes that pop up next to the highlighted text on Docs; they start conversing via comments, and teachers assume that they are simply making notes related to the assignment. If a teacher or parent does decide to check up on the students for some reason, the entire thread can be eliminated by using the Resolve function.
Students don’t even need a collaborative project in order to start chatting. One of the students (who identified herself as Skyler) said, “People will just make a new page and talk in different fonts so you know who is who. 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.”
While Docs is clearly the hottest chatting app within the confines of the classroom, students ditch it the moment they get back home or are no longer working. This just goes to show that our generation might not be the most productive one, but we certainly know how to get our stuff done.