Good Question – How do I avoid collaborating with Google Apps?

Question from M.R.:

My job is to create ESL classes using Google Apps for Educators.  This has worked great using Google Sites as a launching point for class notes, calendars, videos, and links to exercises and assignments in Google Docs.

Students are all logged in with their Apps account, but the problem I’m having is that when students open a doc, they always have to make a copy of the document for them to edit it and add their answers.  I don’t want them messing around with my master documents so the documents are shared as view-only.  This is kind of tedious and also gives them the master document and the copied document in their list of Google Docs.

What I’m looking for is a way to link the document but automate the make a copy of the document process in the link.  Do you know if this is possible?

By the way, all of the documents are simple documents, and not forms or spreadsheets.

P.S. If this is not possible, as I’ve been scouring the net for months looking for a solution, what would you suggest as a workaround for using Google Docs and Google Sites without a focus on collaboration?

My Response:

If I understand your question correctly, you would like to make a document, share it, and have each student have a unique editable copy they can return to you?

My first idea might be over-simplified, but if you are afraid they will mess with the master, how about make a copy first, then share the copy.  Then they will each need to be taught how to open that doc and create a copy.  You can check to make sure their original is in tact from time to time, and go back through revision history to get the one you started with if necessary.  They will rename their own copy with last name and assignment (as I ask of my students), and then share that back to you.  This is the way my class has done it several times and it works fine.

Option two is to use Word.  Create your document in Word (avoid .docx, BTW) and email to them.  They will open the document, upload it into their own Google Docs (making sure to convert to Google Docs version), and rename as above.  They can then share back to you as necessary.

Option three, and a bit off the beaten path, would be to use the form function more.  This allows a two way interaction that does not affect your original questions, etc, and is not collaborative of itself.  You could share the view-only text if necessary, and then create the answer sheet on the forms.  The plus here is not only are you probably getting to the same place, but the correcting/assessing is easier. 

You didn’t say if the work they would be doing is writing revision or something else, but I think one of the three here would work for most situations.

Anyone else have other solutions?  He would prefer to use Google if possible, but is open to other ideas.

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