Saturday, May 25, 2024

Using Google Docs as a Collaborative Learning Tool

Using Google Docs as a Collaborative Learning Tool 📝

Collaboration is an essential part of learning, and Google Docs is an excellent tool for facilitating it. In this article, we will explore some ways to manage student collaboration and participation in Google Docs. We will cover how to use the document outline and internal bookmarks to organize and manage documents and group work, how to tag specific people and assign them tasks, how to use suggesting mode to facilitate collaboration, how to require students to make a copy of a document before working on it, and how to view document version and comment histories.

Document Outline 📑

With multiple people working on the same document, the content can get lengthy and disorganized very quickly. To help manage this, Google Docs offers a document outline view, which is similar to a table of contents. When you add formatting features such as headers or bolding, an outline is created at the top of your document based on your selections. This allows people to jump to a specific location in the document and can help keep documents organized, make them more navigable, and increase accessibility.

To use the document outline, highlight the text you want to make into a header. To create a header, click the styles drop-down and select the type you want to make. To make text bold, select it and then click the bold icon. Remember to be consistent with your styling and header choices. To see the document outline, click view and then select show document outline. It will now appear on the left-hand margin. From here, you can click on a section and jump straight to it.

Internal Bookmarks 🔖

If student groups are working on different sections of a large document, you can bookmark each section to create a unique link for each group to find their place. This feature is unique to Google Docs and is not found in Google Slides or Sheets. To do this, first create the bookmark. Put your cursor where you want the bookmark, click insert, and select bookmark. Note that you can remove a bookmark at any time by clicking on it and selecting remove.

Step 2 is to link to the bookmark. Once you have created your bookmark, you can now link to it. Write or select the text you want to link from, click insert, select link, and choose bookmarks. You will see a list of the bookmarks you have created in the document. Select the one you want and click apply. Now, when you click on the link, you will be taken directly to that section of the document.

Tagging and Assigning People 👥

Google Docs allows you to tag people within the document. You might tag a person to assign them a task, to ask them a specific question, or to invite their input on something. When a person is tagged, they will get an email notification.

To do this, highlight the content you want to draw the person’s attention to. Click the plus comment icon, type “@”, and begin typing their name. Select them from the drop-down. Complete whatever you would like in the comment and click comment. If you wish to assign them a specific task that they have responsibility for, follow the same instructions. Highlight the text, click plus comment, type “@”, select their name, complete the comment, and click the assign to check box. Click assign. The difference between the two is that assigning something to a person makes them responsible for marking the comment as done or resolved.

Suggesting Mode 🤔

When working collaboratively within a document, it is helpful to decide how edits or changes will be made to content. Google Docs provides a suggesting mode, which allows contributors to make suggestions without changing the document itself. This is similar to the track changes feature in Microsoft Word. To do this, click the edit icon on the far right of the toolbar. Select suggesting. Now, when edits are made, they appear in the text and are flagged as suggestions. Suggestions can then be rejected or accepted. If they are accepted by the author, they require the creation of a copy of the original document.

Forcing a Copy 📝

Sometimes you might want a student or a group of students to work in their own Google Doc rather than directly into the one you have created. You may want students to make a copy of the document you have made but still have easy access to instructions, questions, prompts, or other information. You may also want students to use a particular format or template that you have created. In these instances, you may want to do what is called “force a copy,” which will ensure students make a copy of the document to work on without overwriting the original.

Forcing a copy is not a setting in Google Docs but rather involves a small change. To do this, click share on the top right. Select the relevant access permissions. In this example, we are in LionMail, so the options are LionMail, anyone in this group with this link can view, or restricted, only people added can open with this link. If you would like assistance in selecting the correct access permissions, please contact us at the CTL. Once you have selected the correct access permissions, click copy link. Paste the link where you will share it, for example, a CourseWorks announcement, in a module, as an embedded link in an assignment, or in an email. Replace the end of the URL from the last backslash with “copy.” Now, when students click on the link, they will be prompted to make a copy from which they can then work.

Viewing Document Version and Comment Histories 📜

When students work collaboratively, it can be helpful to access previous versions of the document. Students might need to do this if content has been accidentally deleted and needs to be retrieved. Instructors might want to see who has contributed to particular sections. To do this, click file and select version history. Choose see version history. A panel will appear on the right side of the screen. You can see the names of who has edited the document and at what time they did so. You can click a selection to see what the document looked like at a particular time by clicking on the ellipsis. You can also restore a previous version of the document, name a version, or make a copy of a particular version. Click the back arrow on the top left to return to the current version. If you just want to see the comment history of a document, you can click the open comment history icon.

Conclusion 🎓

In this article, we have looked at different features available in Google Docs that can help manage student collaboration. These include the document outline, internal bookmarks, tagging and assigning people, suggesting mode, forcing a copy, and viewing version and comment histories. Google Docs is an excellent tool for facilitating collaboration and can help students work together more effectively. If you need further support or would like to schedule a consultation, please contact us at ColumbiaCTL@columbia.edu.

Highlights ✨

– Use the document outline to help organize and manage content

– Use internal bookmarks to manage long documents and group work

– Tag and assign people to facilitate collaboration

– Use suggesting mode to make suggestions without changing the document itself

– Force a copy to ensure students make a copy of the document to work on without overwriting the original

– View document version and comment histories to access previous versions of the document

FAQ

Q: Can I use Google Docs for group projects?

A: Yes, Google Docs is an excellent tool for group projects. You can use the document outline, internal bookmarks, tagging and assigning people, suggesting mode, forcing a copy, and viewing version and comment histories to manage collaboration.

Q: How do I force a copy of a Google Doc?

A: To force a copy of a Google Doc, click share on the top right. Select the relevant access permissions. Click copy link. Paste the link where you will share it. Replace the end of the URL from the last backslash with “copy.”

Q: How do I view document version and comment histories in Google Docs?

A: To view document version and comment histories in Google Docs, click file and select version history. Choose see version history. A panel will appear on the right side of the screen. You can see the names of who has edited the document and at what time they did so. You can click a selection to see what the document looked like at a particular time by clicking on the ellipsis.