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Posts Tagged ‘google docs

After the last round of Google Doc feature updates, documents now save versions within a single document. The feature is called Named Versions. This might not seem like a major improvement, but it is if you employ pedagogy that revolves around cooperative writing.

One thing I do during some workshops is get participants to evaluate the writing of others. They edit and comment on writing samples and the documents look like any processed by a teacher with a pen. They look colourfully savage!

I reuse the original writing samples and also archive the edited work because my participants might want to refer to their efforts and to revise concepts later. So I make copies of the documents, revert the originals to an early state, and provide links to the archived copies.

This is simple enough to do, but laborious when you have several documents and many copies to make and link. If you have a time crunch, as I do between concurrent sessions, this does not help matters.

The new Named Versions feature is a time-saver. It allows me to save edited versions in the same document (see items with orange arrows) while reverting to a clean version (item in green capsule).

This allows me to provide links to the original document, and if participants wish to visit their edits, they need only look up their groups in the revision history. I no longer need to create copies of documents which clutter my folders in Google Drive. 

Cake. Eat it. This is a delicious and underrated feature of Google Docs!

When I tell folks about how I use Google Apps as an educator and an administrator, some folks scoff.

The most common misconception is that the Google Docs suite is just a weak replacement for Microsoft Office. It’s not and that is because Office is designed primarily to be a standalone suite and for an individual; Google Docs, Presentations and Spreadsheets are fully online and for groups of people to use synchronously.

Case in point: A team of three talented individuals decided to show off what they could do by animating 450 “slides” in a Google Presentation.

Video source

And in the video below, a game designer talks about how he used Google SketchUp to wireframe complex 3D objects.

Video source

The simplicity is in the tool. The power is in its use.

Portfolio by cirox, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License by  cirox

In my bid to push boundaries and increase transparency bit by bit, I am getting my CeL team to do our year end work reviews with the help of Google Docs and Sites.

The work review form was originally a Word document. Converting it to a Google Doc is not only easy, it also allows each team member to have an active copy of the document. Rather than print it out and hide it in a cabinet, both my team member and I can see what we have written on it once the interview is over. Google Docs keeps track of who wrote what, of course, so there is no chance for mischief!

We are using Google Sites as e-portfolios. Instead of just talking about their work, my team members can actually showcase their work with images, videos, stakeholder comments, personal reflections, etc.

I think that having the online review documents and e-portfolios not only provides a scaffold for the review process, it also creates a bit more transparency and relies on user artefacts. It doesn’t take very much more effort to add this to the review process. I think that my staff benefit from it as they 1) get more involved in the process, 2) take ownership of their document and e-portfolio, and 3) are able to reflect more critically as they create digital artefacts to back up what they claim to have achieved.

Tom Barrett is an educator in the UK. If you follow his tweets, you will know that  he has Nintendo DSs and multitouch surface computers to use in his classroom. I envy him. But that it not why I am blogging.

Tom shared in his blog how he uses Google Docs (GD) to provide feedback on his students’ written work. He is also thinking of using GD to provide regular feedback to parents.

If more practitioners shared ideas like him, they would need next to no formal professional development. Every teacher would be helping some other teacher!

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