Using Google Docs for classroom engagement

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In this screencast, Tony Burke from the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, talks through an in-class exercise he did for a module called Building Adaptation and Conservation, a level six module about the re-use of old buildings. He demonstrates how to create the document, and how to share it.

Google Drive allows users to create and edit documents of various types online, and collaborate with other users in real time. It allows multiple users to collaborate on the same document at the same time.

Westminster students do not need to register with Google, as they all have a Google-provided email address. Along with this they also have access to Google Drive, among other services.

In this example, Tony gave the students, via Google Docs, a case study about a group of old building around Gloucester Docks, containing images of the buildings, a map, and then an exercise.

Traditionally this would be the kind of exercise you would photocopy and hand out in class, but in this case students can use Google Docs to access the case study ‘live’ and then collaborate on a proposed solution for the exercise.

Once the case study exercise is created, Tony goes on to show you how to share it with your class, in this case by making it available to people at the University who have the link, and then posting the link to Blackboard. Here Tony has made a handful of case studies available to a number of groups of students.

Ahead of the class in which you are going to use the case studies, ask students to bring with them a device they can use to work on the web.

In the class you can divide the students into groups, and direct them to open their case study. They can then edit it simultaneously, all adding links, text, contextual information etc. They don’t have to take turns.

Another benefit is that once the class activity is over, students will still have access to the document they created – not only have they collaborated in producing the document in the class, they can carry on working afterwards outside the class.

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