Sunday, 1 April 2012

How to Use Google Docs Pt 2 - creating class templates

Now that there is a bit of a lull in my classes using Google Docs, I will move onto the second part of the "How to..." series.
In this episode we are going to go through the process of creating documents for your class.

Step 1: Import all your students and their emails into Contacts.
This assumes you have access to Gmail - although to use Google Docs, you don't need to use their email solution. But presuming you do use it, you will find it a lot easier.
Anyway, go to Gmail and click on the Contacts icon (given they change this so often, it is not worth me showing you how to do it).
As well as adding the details of the student, the current version of Gmail also has a 'Groups' icon. Use this to name your classes and put this student in your class.
Do the same for the rest of the students in your class (you can import them - but I will let you discover how to do it).

Step 2: Create a new document template.
Go to Google Docs and click on new and add whatever document type that you want the class to use. So far, for me, it has been a word processing document.
On this document, add any instructions that you want ALL students to see. This could be assignment details, website links and any marks scheme. I usually put a horizontal line underneath this.
Click on the file name and change it to [Whatever file name you want] template.

Step 3: Create a copy of the document for each student.
With the template open, click on File: Make a copy and a new window opens up.
It should say:
Copy Document
(comments will not be copied to the new document)
Also copy document collaborators

Do not tick the "Also copy document collaborators" at this stage.

It will then create a new document with the title "Copy of [Whatever file name you want] template."
Click on the title and change the name.
I like to add the students name in full and the title of the assignment/task so that it is easy to organise.

Step 4: Share the document with the student.
Here is where Step 1 comes in handy!
Click on the share button and you will get a list of all the people who currently get access to the document.
You will see that the owner is you! This is good. It means you have ultimate control over the document and it will never be deleted unless you delete it.
Further down you will see an empty space (below Add People) to put the student's email address.
When you click in there, a line which reads 'choose from contacts' also magically appears.
If you click on that, a list of people from your Contacts file will come up, and if you click on the appropriate class, you target student's email will come up.
Just click on it to add the student.
Almost there. Before you click on OK, note the options available for the student.
They can edit, view or comment on the document.
Of course you want them to edit it, but be aware of the other options.

Step 5: sit back and wait for the students to start using the document.
You can see this easily because on the Google Docs homepage, the file name becomes bold when some else uses or adds to the file.

The best thing at this stage is to try the process with a colleague and work on a document together.
The results are terrific - one central place for the document with access for the most important people - you and the student.