John Funchion | Google Drive

Google Drive  ENG210 – Literary Themes and Topics – Con Artists in US Literature

This case study examines how using Google Drive in the classroom provides opportunities to organize, analysis, and collaboration of student coursework in a way which utilizes both reflection and group work  in a higher educational environment. 

Case Study in Brief

Course: ENG210 – Con Artists in US Literature

Instructor: John Funchion

Number of Students: 28

Semester: Spring 2015

Duration: Spring Semester

Instructional Designer: Cheyne Murray


The development of 21st century learning and skills (collaboration with peers, digital literacy, effectively harnessing social media, and drawing skill sets across multiple disciplines) is no longer optional for students or teachers. monitor their progress and provide feedback as they build and revise in real time! This is instrumental in assessing not just the end result, but the process

Key Benefits

  • Support multimodal learning and multimedia expression
  • Value process, uncertainty, and creative inquiry
  • Situate abstract tasks into authentic contexts
  • Promote digital literacy
  • Facilitate social pedagogy
  • Increase student engagement
  • Make learning visible
  • Catalyze institutional change
  • Promote accessibility
  • Boost Collaboration


The initial integration of Google Drive requires time and effort. Students and faculty are encouraged to create a Google Drive account in order to access all features associated with Drive. Additionally, incorporating Google Drive into the course may require further thought, as adjustments to the traditional curriculum and activities to include an online component may be necessary.


  • Google Drive
  • Google Forms – Exit Survey
  • Google Sheets – Exit Survey Results

Skills Utilized

  • Organization
  • Synchronous communication
  • Collaboration with peers
  • Digital Literacy
  • Proofreading/editing
  • Design
  • Visualization
  • Synthesize ideas and information
  • Technology integration

Target Skills

  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Student responsibility
  • Organization
  • Learning ownership

Application to Other Courses

This Google Drive case study can be utilized as a resource for any course here at the University of Miami. This e-learning approach will be most beneficial incorporated into courses which rely heavily on synchronous communication, digital document resources and electronic assignments.

Survey Results

Exit Survey

Survey Results and Statistics

Survey Format

This survey used a likert scale ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. The questions focused on Google Drive and used Bloom’s taxonomy terminology to obtain understanding in each of the levels of learning. For example, “Because of Google Drive, my ability to develop meaningful work and synthesize novel responses has improved.”

Sample Results

As indicated from the distributed exit survey, students strongly agreed that the use of Google Drive made organization of resources and class documents easily accessible. Additionally, students also strongly agreed that because of Google Drive, their ability to communicate within the comment section of a document with their peers has increased their ability to dig deeper within a set concept.

Student Perspectives

Instructor Perspective

Google Drive in the Introductory Literature Course (Spring 2015)

John Funchion, Associate Professor of English and American Studies

For my ENG 210: “Con Artists, Tricksters, and Card Sharks in American Literature” course, I experimented with Google Drive as an instructional platform in consultation with UM’s Department of Academic Technologies. After an initial adjustment period, I found that my students responded exceptionally well to Drive and the many applications it supports.  The experience, in fact, has radically transformed the way I think introductory literature courses should be taught to non-humanities majors. 

When it came to posting course materials and assignment guidelines, I found Drive as a cloud storage platform to be both intuitive and time-saving. Students also submitted some of their work via Drive, which allowed them to easily share their work for peer feedback. Since Drive automatically synched updates on our PCs and mobile devices, both the students and I found it easy to access course content and to remain aware of any updates.

Drive, however, offered far more than just file-sharing capabilities. For example, with Cheyne Murray’s assistance, I administered course quizzes and short writing responses using Google Forms.  When I used Google Forms for in-class short responses or quizzes, I could monitor students as they crafted replies to critical questions about the texts and films we examined in the class. I could then easily scan all of their submissions in the form of a spread sheet, enabling me to shape class discussion around their critical responses. Drive, in other words, helped me tailor class conversations to their grasp of the material for that day. On those few days when discussion seemed stilted, I always knew if it stemmed from a lack of preparation or if it instead had to do with the difficulty of reading for that day. After class I was able to seamlessly record each student’s performance on the quiz into my class’s grading spreadsheet.  

Finally, Drive also enabled to me create shared documents for class group work. This feature profoundly improved my students’ critical analyses of the texts in the class. In a literature course with larger enrollment, this function became a wonderful way to have students work on close textual examinations. When I began teaching Herman Melville’s notoriously complex novel, The Confidence-Man, for example, class discussion initially proved to be a struggle. My students, many of whom were not humanities majors, understandably didn’t know how to approach the text. Rather than diving right into discussion in subsequent class meetings, I had them annotate in groups select passages from the text in a Google document. Again, I could monitor their annotations real-time, which meant that I could be sure they remained focused on the task at hand and see where they found parts of the novel to be especially challenging. Then I could project their annotations to the rest of the class, and we could discuss their readings all together. From that point forward, their examination of the novel became far sharper, and our discussions became incredibly animated and lively.

I will definitely be using Google Drive again, especially in courses that attract a large number of non-humanities majors. Drive and the various functions it supports dramatically improved the quality of this course. And UM’s Department of Academic Technologies also helped me shape its use for my course during a series of one-on-one consultations. Thanks to those useful exchanges, I was able to ensure that Drive enhanced the instructional quality of my course rather than detracted from it. Most importantly, Drive helped me get my students excited about literature and to see how it can profoundly shape our perception of the world and the values we hold.