Some Practical Tips on How to Use Google Docs in Your Distance Education

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The far-reaching effects of the current pandemic are strongly felt in the sector of education. To say the least, education  is undergoing a historical transformation as manifested in the rapid transition to online education. Although online education is not new as many educational institutions have already been integrating some forms of blended education where face-to face learning is complimented by virtual and distance education, however, the rate of this transition is indeed mind-boggling. All of a sudden, online education becomes  the de facto mode of delivery forcing everyone (students, teachers, and parents) to adapt and to do it quickly.

Here in EdTech and mLearning, we have felt the anxiety and concern this transition is creating among the education community. We have been receiving tons of emails from teachers, educators, and parents asking about remote learning tools and resources, probably three or four times the volume of emails we would receive in 'normal' times. As such, we decided to publish more on the topic of distance education and have even designed an entire section devoted to everything related to online education. Today's post is another resource we  are adding to the existing materials posted there so far.

Drawing on insights and ideas from Docs Editors Help and more specifically on the section called Collaboration on Your Documents, we came up with some of handy ways you as a teacher and educator can use to make the best of Google Docs in your remote teaching/learning. We highlighted some of the collaborative features that some of you are probably not aware of and which can enhance the way you remotely collaborate on documents. Check them out below, and if you have other suggestions share with us on our social media profiles or through email.

4 Ways Teachers and Educators Can Use Google Docs in Distance Learning

1- Co-editing documents
Use this feature to invite others to work with you on the same document and in real-time. All their edits are automatically saved and can be easily tracked. As the owner of the document, you can customize sharing options. You get to control whether co-editors can change permissions and share or not. To activate this feature:
  • Click on the 'Share' button  in upper right corner
  • Click on the 'Get Link' box
  •  Select 'Editor'
2- Sharing instantaneous feedback 
This a great way to share/ invite feedback and engage in real-time discussions remotely. You can do this by customizing the sharing options in your document to 'Editor' or 'Commenter'. Unlike Editors, commenters are only able to add comments on the margin of the document but can not edit its actual content. You can view, accept or delete comments. To add a comment: highlight text, click on Add comment. You can then track comments from the comments history.

3- Suggesting edits 
As the owner of the document, you can  activate 'suggest changes'  to allow your collaborators to share their suggestions regarding the content of your document. You can accept or reject suggestions. All suggested changes are marked in a different colour. You can also comment and reply to suggestions. To access this feature: click on 'Editing' in the top right then select Suggesting.

4- Sharing and collaborating on a file with more than 100 people
As is the case with Slides and Sheets, Google Docs allows up to 100 individuals with view, edit, or comment permissions to collaborate on the same document in real-time. However, "when more than 100 people are accessing a file, only the owner and some users with editing permissions can edit the file." To collaborate on a document with 100 people you need to publish it online and make it accessible through a public URL. You can 'unpublish' it any time you want. To publish a Google document:
  •   Click on File at the top
  •   Select Publish to the Web
  •   Click on Publish.