G-Suite, the collection of free productivity apps made by Google, is full of collaboration features that educators don't use very often. For example, did you know that any Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides document can be worked on simultaneously by a group of students?
These collaboration features can be effective for compiling information, reviewing documents, and building new projects from scratch. Here are a few ideas for using these features in the classroom.
It all starts with the share button on the top right corner of every G Suite document.
All G-Suite files have three sharing options: view, comment, and edit. Technically, you could share a Docs file with a student and only give her View permission. The student could then see the document and even watch you create or edit the document is she viewed it while you were working on it. The View option can act as a substitute for a projector or video. Students could just go to the file and see as you work on it.
Never Read the Comments
The commenting feature allows anyone to highlight a portion of a document and add a note. You could share a text and ask all students to comment on it. Imagine a document filling up with comments from students, all reflecting on different parts. They can also respond to each other's comments.
Fill in the Blanks - Group Spreadsheet
If you wanted to create a document that students could use to review for a test, try this. Make a Google Spreadsheet in which the left column is a list of questions, and the right column is for answers. You could assign each student a number corresponding to a question. That way the entire class would contribute to a review. I love the way the spreadsheet fills up and becomes alive.
The reason why I suggest a spreadsheet over a Doc is so that information is more organized and won't shift as students are writing. You can also add extra columns to make it easier to sort the data later. For example, columns could include the chapter where the answer is located or the general topic for that question.
An alternative to the spreadsheet is a Google Slide. Each student could be assigned a slide, so the final result resembles flash cards. Slides might be a better option if the review could benefit from visuals.
Tell a Story
Another use for Slides could involve the chronological review of a process or time period. Students could offer steps, each added to the next slide, and if a student provides a step out of order, you can simply move the slide to the correct spot in the order.
Brainstorming - Group Drawing
G Suite consists of a few more apps, including Forms and Drawings. With Drawings, an entire class can draw in a shared space. I've found this to be great for brainstorming sessions and idea mapping. Students can each choose a location on the drawing and draw or add text. Then, with simple shape, line, and connection tools, they can connect ideas to each other.
Groups, Big or Small
All of these examples are meant to give you an idea of what is possible with collaboration within G Suite apps. You can adapt these examples to your classes and use them for small group work or to get the entire classroom involved. You could have all your students from different sections working on one document. You may even have ideas for projects in the class or take-home assignments. I hope you'll share what you come up with as a comment below so we can all learn some helpful new tricks.