Collaboration in G Suite – An Overview

G Suite for Education is a great platform for giving students feedback on their work. The apps in G Suite are also great for facilitating student collaboration.  Let’s look at how teachers can use G Suite for student collaboration.

A Quick Note

This post is meant for teachers who are almost proficient with or just learning G Suite. Additionally, this post contains nothing about add-ons, extensions, coding, or anything extra. Strictly G Suite.

Sharing (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

G Suite allows sharing in which collaborators can receive edit access.

Give a collaborator edit access
Give a collaborator edit access

Collaborators can also receive “Can comment” access that allows for commenting in a doc, spreadsheet, presentation, or drawing.

Give a collaborator comment access
Give a collaborator comment access

Email Collaborators (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

Email collaborators is a great way for collaborators to communicate about a file they are working on. The person initiating the conversation need not open Gmail. They also get to choose the exact collaborators they want to send a message to. Click File>>>Email collaborators… to use this function.

"Use

Assign Action Items (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

Use the comment function and type a “+” or “@” with a collaborator’s email address to assign them an action item. That pushes an email to their inbox telling them they have been assigned an action item.

Assign an Action Item using Comments.
Assign an Action Item using Comments.

Suggesting Mode (Works in Docs)

In the Google Docs editor, notice the pencil in the upper-right corner. Click it and choose “Suggesting” in the drop-down menu.

Suggesting Mode in the Google Docs editor.
Suggesting Mode in the Google Docs editor.

Make edits. They appear as suggestions.

Suggesting Mode in Action
Suggesting Mode in Action

Collaborators can approve or reject suggestions by checking “✔️” or “✖️.”

Collaborators can accept or reject suggestions.
Collaborators can accept or reject suggestions.

Version History (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

Version history is a great way for teachers and collaborating students to keep track of ongoing collaborations. Ever wonder which member of a group made a contribution to a G Suite file? Version history reveals all. Click File>>>Version history to access a detailed history of all edits to a G Suite file. Version history allows editors to restore a version. This is a great way to save the day if one collaborator has made many incorrect edits to a G Suite file/

Accessing Version History in Google Docs.
Accessing Version History in Google Docs.

Differentiation in Google Classroom

Let’s conclude with an easy way for teachers to turbo-charge collaboration in Google Classroom. Any post (announcement, question, or assignment) can be shared only with specific students even though the default is set to all students in a class. Have a look at how it works from Google’s The Keyword blog:

Google Classroom Differentiation
Google Classroom Differentiation

Teachers can use this to facilitate collaboration in two ways:

  1. Create a post that shares files only with group captains. Each group captain can then share their files with their group members.
  2. Create posts only for groups. This is not that difficult because of the reuse post feature. Use it to use the same post for each group with slight adjustments for each group.

For more information on differentiation in Google Classroom, please watch this video.

The Future of Collaboration in G Suite – Google Jamboard

If your district uses iPads or Play Store enabled Chromebooks, your students can use Google Jamboard right now. This online collaborative whiteboard is the new frontier in G Suite collaboration.  Have a look at me demonstrating it on my Chromebook. As you watch, please note – I now Know what the lasso tool does. It selects elements on the screen and moves them. It’s actually very useful.

Thank you for reading. If you would like to share your thoughts with me, please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney.

The G Suite logo I used in the image for this blog post.

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