In Google Docs you are able to make text documents (comparable with Word), presentation (comparable with Powerpoint), spreadsheets (comparable with Excel) and Drawings (comparable with Visio). If you are using Gmail already, Google Docs will fit nicely within your workflow. If you are working on a document between a few people (or many), Google Docs allows complete collaboration and it updates the changes in real time. It also features a chat function so that you can talk between collaborators while making changes.
It’s free to try out and I highly suggest you do. Is it not quite a Word replacement, but it’s close. I have completed many professional documents using Google Docs and no one noticed. For me, I use Gmail all the time so using Docs is very natural. I have used it with colleagues to create documents and spreadsheets and I found it much quicker to use.
In the classroom, students can tie in Docs with the Google Site or Group and learn about cloud computing at the same time! There are plenty of options using Docs and including Google in your workflow. Try it with your students or even with people you work with.