Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Google Drive Collaboration

Recently my use of the collaborative nature of Google Drive has increased markedly as more students bring digital devices to school to support their learning. Many teachers consider students having digital devices in the classroom to be a disruption, as they often seem to use them for the wrong reasons, rather than using them to enhance their learning opportunities and engage with new and exciting (or even traditional and mundane) content in a unique and interesting way. I believe that having digital devices in the classroom, particularly laptops and smartphones, is the best thing since sliced bread; student engagement is increased and knowledge acquisition through collaboration happens at a very deep level.

The screenshot below shows several Year 8 students adding to a shared Google Presentation at the same time. This presentation is growing as students add to it; and because it is linked to a QR code, students can easily access and view it from multiple locations (eg school yearbook, walls around school etc).

Up to 50 people can collaborate on a document in real time

Here's the QR code for the slideshow:

QR code for Poetry Slideshow

I've also found the commenting function in docs to be particularly beneficial, especially in Google Presentations. Below is a screenshot of a GPres my students worked on collaboratively - note the comments down the right-hand side of the page: adding a +theiremail in the comment will send an email to that person, so they are aware of the comment. They can then reply directly to the email, and their reply will be added to the comment thread in the document.

Add +emailaddress to comments and grow the discussion via email
In the example above, students are required to ask questions on other people's slides through the comments function; students then go on to answer those questions asked of them and use those questions as part of the learning inquiry about the image they've posted.

Only one criticism: it would be useful if users could see all of their open/unresolved/unreplied to comments, so they could follow up on them that way. So far I am unable to find a way to do this. You can set your notifications (open the 'Comments' pane, select Notifications). This is a useful way to track comments on a document you create.

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