It's been quite some time since I tossed notes back and forth behind my teachers' backs in high school, and boy have today's students become resourceful. Physical notes and even texting are a thing of the past, it seems, especially since so many teachers have no-phone rules. Instead, kids are using the chat function of Google Docs while working on their laptops. Google Docs is a spreadsheet program that educators have been using to share work with students so they can follow along in real time.
According to tech reporter Taylor Lorenz at The Atlantic, while Google Docs is being utilized in classrooms — and at home — as a recommended method of collaboratively following along with the lecture, students are utilizing its chat feature to talk with one another instead. And teachers and parents have no clue this is happening.
"We don't really pass physical notes anymore," Skyler (a pseudonym), 15, explained to The Atlantic. They're using the approved Google Docs to chat in the margins as comments, or they're creating new docs entirely. "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." When teachers walk by to see what a student is working on — again, following along in Google Docs is often encouraged — it's easy for a student to delete all signs of chatting. Often just selecting "resolve" on the live-chat function will do it.
"People just talk sh*t about teachers, or be like, talking about their days. It will be the most boring stuff, but it's the only way to get any message across to each other," Skyler said. At least this method of note passing saves paper.