Join Chris Mattia for an in-depth discussion in this video Collaborative Google Docs, part of Teaching Techniques: Blended Learning.
- [Voiceover] In face to face classes, students have the opportunity to directly engage in conversations. In online courses, this engagement usually happens asynchronously. Google Docs provides us with the opportunity to blend these two experiences to create a rich environment for dynamic engagement and collaboration, both in and out of class. From inside of our Course folder in Google Drive, click the New button and select Google Docs. You may get a warning letting you know that since you're creating this document inside of a shared folder, the document will automatically be shared with all of your students, which is exactly what we want, so click OK.
Let's rename the document by clicking on Untitled Document in the upper left-hand corner and calling it Unit 01 Notes. Click into the body of the document to accept that change. Notice that the new document is created in a new tab of our browser, allowing us easy access to our drive and other files. Back in our drive, we see that our document has been created and saved with the correct name. Google Docs is a fairly typical word processor, with tools similar to those found in Microsoft Word or Apple Pages.
The most noticeable difference is that Docs are built for simultaneous collaboration, and that's exactly the kind of tool that we're looking for when designing a blended learning course. Using Google Docs means that it's possible for everyone in your class to simultaneously edit a single document. Now, this might sound a bit chaotic, and it usually is at first. But students quickly get the hang of it and learn to write and create together. Early in your course, begin by providing your students with some basic structure to the documents.
This can be in the form of specific tasks, open-ended questions, or an outline of your traditional lecture. The idea is for students to seek out information and fill in the gaps together. As your students open the Docs from their drive, icons will begin appearing at the top right of the document, letting anyone who has the document open know that someone else is also editing. Students then click into the document and begin typing. It looks like some of my students have the document open and are already contributing.
There's a link at the top of the document that says all changes saved in Drive. Clicking on that link reveals the document's history, noting each change to the document and who made the change. This is a great feature for tracking participation in class. If you need more details about specific contributions to the document, click the Show More Detailed Revisions button at the bottom of the right column. To return to the main document flow, click the left arrow at the top of the window. If you need to add anyone to the sharing of this document, you can click on the Share button in the upper right, and then access the same sharing options that we saw in the Google Drive movie.
For all of the other Google Apps that we'll be looking at in this chapter, these are the same revisions and sharing options that will exist and work in the exact same way. The first time you try collaborative writing in a class, there is invariably lots of commotion, giggling, and learning going on, as the students begin to learn how to work together as a team. It's both a fun and a powerful exercise. Consider ways you could take advantage of this dynamic collaborative writing in your class. Here are just a couple of ideas.
If you're flipping your class, have your students review the online course materials and begin filling in the gaps into a shared document with additional resources that they find online or in the library. Then review the document in class together, coaching the students on the concepts and resources, while filling in additional gaps as needed. Assign groups of students to be the document's lead editors for the unit. Have those students lead the discussion in class. If you give a lecture during your face-to-face class, have your students collaboratively take notes in the document and add supporting materials via links or by directly embedding them into the document.
If you regularly teach the same course, have your students create textbooks for the next semester's class from Open Education Resources and their own writings to tie it all together. These are just a few ideas to get you started thinking about how you can use collaborative writing with Google Docs in your blended course.
- Understanding blended learning
- Humanizing course materials
- Designing blended courses with Google Apps
- Setting up sharing on iOS and Android devices
- Capturing mobile screenshots
- Recording audio and video
- Creating a YouTube channel for sharing video
- Blending courses with an LMS