Three Rivers TESOL 2015 – Collaborative Projects the Easy Way Using Google Drive

This is a companion post for my presentation at Three Rivers TESOL on 11/7/2015. In the live workshop, we will do hands-on activities with Google Drive. This post contains some introductory prose and a link to a “how-to” document for setting up Google Drive projects for your own students.

Students collaborating using Google Drive. Photo: Charlotta Wasteson, CC BY 2.0
Students collaborating using Google Drive. Photo: Charlotta Wasteson, CC BY 2.0

Have you ever assigned a group project such as a panel speech or a group presentation? If you have, you know that the logistics tend to get messy. In my experience, students in a group often each create their own PowerPoint files and then try to paste them all together into one group file. This requires a lot of emailing and effort, and the final product usually looks inconsistent and shabby due to varying slide designs, fonts sizes, and so on. Plus, if one or two students aren’t pulling their weight, their poor or missing work may come as a surprise to their fellow group members on presentation day.

But what if all the members of a group could work on the same file at the same time?

Google Drive is a free online office suite created and maintained by Google, Inc. The program is accessed via a web browser (on PCs/Macs) or via mobile apps (iOS/Android). Where Google Drive differs most substantially from Microsoft Office is that it makes collaboration very easy: everyone working on a project can edit the same document at the same time, and built-in commenting and chatting features enable the collaborators to coordinate their efforts. The online nature of Google Drive also means that teachers do not need to “collect” work. Rather, teachers have permanent, ongoing access to the document and can monitor student work live as it happens.

See here for instructions:

Using Google Drive for Collaborative Student Projects

The above document contains all the instructions you need to get a project up and running. It’s certainly a bit simpler to set projects up if your institution uses Google Apps for Education (GAFE), but this is not a prerequisite. As long as the teacher has a Google account, the teacher can create the projects and enable students to work on those documents without needing to log into a Google account.

Give it a try!

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