Collaborating for success with Google Apps

One of the great things about the Google Drive apps is how well the collaboration features have been integrated into the software. You can just share a document, login and go. I haven’t made extensive use of Google Drive’s collaborative features but I have tried them on occasion in both adult and high school education settings and it has been successful (after students get over the initial flip out of seeing someone edit a document at the same time as them!)

The activities that I have encouraged collaboration via Google Drive have been fairly structured which may be one reason why they worked well. This week, I saw this post by April Smith that got me thinking I should be encouraging MORE collaboration, perhaps using LESS STRUCTURED activities. The post suggested collaboration could be more successful if a clear and simple framework was provided to students about what effective collaboration looks like.

Using April’s idea, I created the following poster to briefly outline what collaboration success might look like. (This was created using Google Draw – click on the image and it will take you to the document on Google Drive where you can choose to create a copy for yourself and edit as you like).

I also created the below Google Slides presentation to help flesh out the ideas in the poster and also to capture the specific functionality available in Google Apps to facilitate successful collaboration. Once again, if you would like to copy and adapt the presentation for your own use, I have shared it with you. Just click on the little cog icon near the presentation navigation, select Open Editor and it will take you to Google Slides where you can make a copy of the presentation for yourself.

Applications for education

  • Discuss the framework in the poster and the presentation with students before embarking on a project requiring collaboration using Google Apps.
  • Delete the detailed information in the presentation and brainstorm with students how they can use interpersonal skills and Google Apps for Education tools to collaborate effectively. They might come up with even better ideas!
  • Make sure students know where to find and how the use the GAFE tools for collaboration.
  • Don’t forget the importance of modelling; collaborate WITH students to show them how it’s done!

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