Thursday, 28 April 2011

Gapps-Using Collections to Organise and Share

Recently I began using Google Apps in my classroom. I have been trying to exploit the collaboration Google Docs allows in my classroom by experimenting with the different sharing settings on documents. Google Docs allows the owner of the document to decide who can access or edit it.

I frequently encounter the issue that students forget to share a document with the right people or they share it with too many people (the World). I have been looking for a way to simplify this process of sharing.

This week I decided to restructure my ‘Collections’, these are the Google Docs version of folders. I found this organisation session helped solve my sharing issues. ‘Collections’ have sharing options and the documents in a ‘Collection’ take the sharing settings from the ‘Collection’ they are placed in, as long as the document owner places it in the ‘Collection’. This way you do not need to set the setting of individual documents just drag them in to the appropriate ‘Collection’.

What I have done is set up a Collection for each of the different subjects I teach.
Then I have added a Collection for each student in each of the courses.
You can then set sharing settings for each of these collections.
Also because these documents are in "Collections" not "Folders" they can appear more than once, adding it to a Collection is like adding a tag, and you can have multiple tags. So if you have multiple courses that need access to the same generic document just drag it into all of the Collections and all of these will be added to it.
If the student wants to share their work with you they only need to drag the work into the collection with their name this also means you can share feedback with them the same way.
As the sharing settings are taken from the ‘Collection’ rather than the individual document it can be better to set up a classwork ‘Collection’ shared with all students in the group then keep the Parent Course ‘Collection’ only shared with the teachers this way students can access the classwork but not each others documents.

I have found this to be a far more straight forward way of students sharing work with me and me sharing feedback with them (along with tidying up my own gdocs).

Students can also create their own collections this can be great for collaborative group work.