Collaborating with Google Docs

Collaboration is a word that is thrown around a lot in the field of education. In fact, when looking at the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards, that specific word appears 18 times under three out of the five standards. With all of the demands on us as educators, it can be quite difficult to find the time to collaborate with our colleagues, but Google has worked to make a more convenient way to do this through Google Drive.

Google Drive is available free to anyone who has a Google account and is a convenient way for multiple parties to create, edit, and view spreadsheets, word processing documents, and presentations. Even collaborators who do not have their own Google accounts can join in viewing and editing shared documents. The  course named Google Drive Essential Training, chapter 9 covers Collaborating with Google Docs. Even though the chapter is titled, Collaborating with Google Docs, it shows how collaboration is possible using the entire Google Drive which includes the aforementioned spreadsheets, word processing documents, presentations, etc. There are six videos in all totaling 20 minutes in length. Because the focus of this post is on collaborating electronically, the initial video of printing documents is not covered.

The second video, Sharing Files with other Google Users, sets the ground work for how toSharing Screenshot invite people to view, edit, or create a document. Adding people is as simple as typing in their name and clicking share. If you would like to share a document with colleagues who are not Google Users you can share the link to the document via e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook. The video also explains how to change the accessibility so that link is private, public, or available for just those with the link. All of this can be changed at any time. The picture to the right shows what the screen looks like when changing the share option.

The third video, Working with Files that are Shared with You, walks you step by step through accessing and working with files that have been shared with you. This is done by clicking on a link sent via e-mail or clicking “shared with me” on the Google Drive dashboard. It is important to note that if working on multiple devices you should be careful to move documents shared with you to your Drive if you are going to be working on them from the different devices.

The fourth video, Saving and Working with Revisions, explains that you do not have to save your work when using Google Drive because the revisions are automatically saved with every change made to that specific file. By clicking on the last edit link, you can see every change made and which user made that change. The video ends by outlining how to make a copy of a document if you decide you want a separate one that can not be edited.

The fifth video, Editing a File Simultaneously with another Google User, demonstrates the color coded system that allows for you and colleagues to edit a document at the same time, as well as chat on the screen live to enhance the work.

The sixth and final video, Commenting on a File, shows you how to add comments to a document that might need revision or to be looked at closer. When completing a spreadsheet, this is done by the use of color notches in the corner of a cell. This can also be done by clicking the number balloon at the bottom of the sheet. By changing the notification settings, you can control when you would like to be notified about comments. In a document, text that has been commented on is highlighted.

Visit Google’s help pages for more help on making comments on Google Drive or tips on using Google Drive for collaboration or visit to view the other tutorials on this topic.

As school gets ready to start back up in the next month, do not feel overwhelmed diving back into Common Core. Instead, try collaborating with your colleagues through Google Drive. If you use Google Drive already, have you used it to collaborate? How? If not, do you see this being a tool that would be beneficial in collaboration?

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17 Responses to Collaborating with Google Docs

  1. Jen M says:

    Great job, Amy. I was especially interested in the section where you talked about editing a file simultaneously with another person. I collaborate really closely with my team. We are constantly passing papers, lesson plans, rubrics, and other things we’ve created to get the other person’s feedback. On our School Improvement Team, we ended up passing our plan back and forth several times to edit it and then meeting to discuss the changes. We could have done all of that electronically so much easier and faster! Using Google Docs to collaborate with your various PLCs would be a smart choice. I enjoyed this, Amy!

    • B. Taylor says:

      As Jen says, passing things back and forth is a challenge. The worst for me is when people send a Word doc attachment back and forth in email and different people are editing it, and I never know which is the newest one. That’s where collaborative editing in something like a Google doc wins! Not only that, no more attachments to fill up our email inbox and sent mail folders. Like Amy said, if you are editing at same time, chat is great and if you want to give feedback and aren’t online at same time, comments do the trick.

      • DirkT says:

        Wow, I did not even think about that with regards to Google docs. My principal has asked the staff several times to cut back on the mass emails because it fills up the inboxes but this would fix that problem and because it stores this information, everyone on staff has access and if they need to change it for personal use, all they have to do is download it. Good bye to looking for that random staff paper you can never find, it is on Google docs!

      • Kristin O. says:

        I just mentioned using Google Drive this way in another comment on a different post. I have already asked my teammates to sign up for gmail so we will all have access to it. Unfortunately my school doesn’t use google accounts. I will be petitioning my principal and regional board members to help us make the switch. I didn’t realize how amazing gmail was until this class.

        My grade level makes a grade level newsletter each week, rather than personal classroom newsletters. In order to include ALL classes, we still rely on the “clip board method”, passing a blank newsletter around on a clip board until everyone has had a chance to add all their stuff. I will definitely never do that again. Google Drive will make this particular task so much simpler! Thanks for sharing, Amy!

    • Amy P. says:

      Our school doesn’t use Google accounts either, but it’s nice that it is free so hopefully I can convince my co-workers to create an account!

  2. TeresaH says:

    Wow, I love the great things I am learning about Google Docs and how to use the Google Drive. I am amazed to hear my own children talk about how their teachers are using the drive for collaborative group and partner projects. Reading your blog, explaining this in more detail was very helpful and informative. I think there are so many ways to use the Google Drive and hope to hear more teachers share ways that they have used this tool in their classrooms. Thanks.

  3. ajohnson84 says:

    What a great tool to help us collaborate more effectively. Thanks for sharing. I think this will be a great tool to use across the grade level or with other specialist teachers when sharing plans or ideas. Google Drive is becoming one of my favorite things! I have been playing with it. Great job Amy!

    • LaToya B. says:

      I am also excited about using Google docs to collaborate with my team. I really like how it will allow everyone to put in their input and doesn’t leave one person stuck doing all of the typing. I like the suggestion from Professor Taylor of having students to view a link to the document to collaborate since all of our students are not old enough to have accounts of their own! I have watched others in my school use Google Docs and I’ve watched in amazement. Now, I know how to use it myself!!!!

      • Danielle D. says:

        I have watch other teachers use Google Docs and I was too afraid to try it myself but diving into this class and using it right away has made me see how easy it is to use! It will be so great to be able to collaborate with other teachers and related service providers more efficiently. I am looking into seeing if my students are able to access Google Drive through their school accounts. If so, this could create a whole new dynamic in our school!

  4. Joan Love says:

    I am planning to use Google Drive this year to allow my students to collaborate on a variety of things from writing assignments, partner projects, and publishing. As you mentioned it will also make some of those “meetings” with colleagues obsolete since we will be able to discuss things using Google Drive.

    • B. Taylor says:

      Hi Joan, Not sure if your school has Google Apps for Education. If not, students must be over 13 to sign up for personal Google accounts – not sure what age you teach. Guess that students could still collaborate on docs teacher creates if teacher chose “anyone with link can edit” and posted that link for students to open.

  5. Heather W. says:

    Great post Amy! I love this idea about being able to collaborate through Google Drive! My team mate will be out on maternity leave the first two months of school so we were trying to come up with dates to plan. Using this tool will allow us to plan together but a separate locations! I’m going to tell her about this and see if we can plan through collaborating in Google Drive!

  6. RBryan says:

    Google Docs makes peer editing significantly easier, as well as collaboration on a group activity.

  7. JenC says:

    My school has been using Google Docs with students as well as colleagues. My co-teacher and I share documents to edit for one another and use with our class all the time. Before Google Docs, we would always have to save in Word, email as an attachment, change, save again and send back. Sharing on Google Docs is a million times easier. It is so easy to check on students’ work also. Once students have shared the document with you, which I have them do right away, I am able to go in and see their progress. I was even able to check when I was away from school to see who had worked on their paper during class with the substitute! The one area that I hope to explore more this year is having students use Google Docs to collaborate and work with other students.

  8. Laura B. says:

    I have never used Google Drive to collaborate until filling in the sign-up sheets and information for this class. I do see myself using Google Drive as a resource this upcoming year because it is such an easy way to collaborate with colleagues. Instead of having to find a time to meet and sort things out as a team, you can create a document and let everyone comment and make changes/give input at everyone’s own convenience.

    • Jess C. says:

      Laura, I had never used Google drive to collaborate either until class. I had no idea what the colors I saw meant, or what was going on. Thanks for the post Amy! This is going to be a great way to collaborate with my grade level, and the different committees I am on without having to be in the same place at the same time.

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