How to use Google Docs to share resources and interact with your workshop participants

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I got an email from a lovely lady this week with a quick query about how she might set up a website on which she could share resources for a workshop she is undertaking. She wants to:

  • post electronic readings
  • Share websites
  • add comments and have participants add comments to documents.

In the past, I would have recommended using something like wikispaces. In there she could set up a whole site and set up an account for each of the participants of her course.  They could then access the information that she placed up there as well as add to it.  She could create a table of questions and ask everyone to write their thoughts on it, for example, or simple use it as a file sharing tool with links to outside resources.

However, recently, I have noticed a big move towards Google Documents.  I know I have used it in my own courses at Flinders Uni as a tool for my students to collaborate and share information together.  I first saw it being used really effectively by George (@gcouros) when he came to the CEGSA conference last July.  He create a simple google doc with all of his links, resources etc. posted on it and shared the link with us.   All he had to do was share a link with us and we could see the document.  He has been using this same document to supplement the workshops he runs on Twitter all year. As a result, when I go back to it now, there are new resources being added all the time.  I have access to his growing library of videos, websites and other helpful resources.

He chose to have his links page locked for editing. Meaning that only he could add to it.  However, he also created other documents which were ‘open’ and could be edited by all.  He used a Google form to collect answers from each of us.   This mean that he could create a question in a document and ask us to answer it… all of us… all the participants answering collaboratively.  He could then use this information to inform what we discussed and the direction of his workshop.

This is also possible with a standard Google Doc.  You can create a scaffold – a blank table, some questions, a cloze…  and have a group of people collaborate to complete it.   This is the style of Google doc I have been using at Flinders and to great success.

How does it work?

Sharing your work with others and inviting collaboration:

Looking at that, you might wonder how that is (administratively) any different to a wiki. Well… actually, in my experience, you don’t actually have to send an email to all your participants. You can simply make the document ‘open’ and then share the link with who ever you’d like to edit it. The link isn’t advertised by anyone but you so, you have control over who has a copy of the address of the file. Social networking can then be a powerful facilitator to give others (those who were unable to attend the course in person) the opportunity to collaborate from where ever they are. In a recent Flinders presentation we had people from all over the world participating in a conversation.

Here’s an example of a Google Doc in which I explain how to change your sharing settings.  I’ve given everyone permission to comment but not to edit this document – just as an experiment.  If the link’s ridiculous size is bothering you, then don’t forget the likes of bitly as a means to make it shorter and easier to share! 🙂

Creating a Google Forms to collate answers from your participants / students:

This is a great way to measure prior learning at the start of a session, to establish what participants want to get out of your session or for evaluating their feedback at any point during your teaching.  You might want to ask the same questions at the beginning and end of the workshop to see the progress made.

Sharing Links and Online Resources

Add a LinkTo do this, simply create a document in Google Docs (or Drive as it’s now called).   Just add hyperlinks into you document as you would if you were using word.  Simply highlight the text you’d like to add to your text and then click on the insert menu to add your link.

You’ll also find options for adding images here too.

 

You can create your document in Word (or the wordprocessing program you prefer) add all your links, images etc and then upload it to you Google Drive.  It will convert the file to a google doc and you can then choose how you’d like to share it and how you’d like others t work with it.

There are some great tutorials here if you need/want more  info 🙂

How have you been using Google Docs /Drive ?  Any tips you’d like to add?

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