Saturday, May 30, 2015

Google Drive Revision History - A Powerful Tool for Teachers

This is the first of a series of posts on Google Drive features that classroom teachers may find quite valuable.

As a classroom teacher it is not enough to grade an assignment and move on. Why a product misses the mark is as important (if not more so) than the mark itself.

This was a problem I struggled with as a classroom teacher.

Is the work below expectations because I did not present the concepts well? Did the student misunderstand the assignment? Was the project completed in a rush the day before the deadline? The answers to these questions each suggest a different way to help the student and teacher improve.

In the "dark ages" of classroom technology, we used Clarisworks/Appleworks.  Students would bring their printed writing to the writing conference. We would discuss the work. I might make a few suggestions for improvement. The student would work on the revisions and later turn in a revised final draft. It wasn't chiseling on stone tablets but it was Old School. I am certain, but couldn't prove, I frequently received a freshly printed copy without any changes.

I needed a good way to find out the "who, what, when and where" of the project timeline.
  • Who contributed (especially important for group assignments)?
  • What was contributed, changed, pasted or otherwise added?
  • When was is done?
  • Where was it done? (This one is easy.)

Teachers and students in Austin ISD now have access to Google Drive and the extensive suite of productivity applications it provides. There are too many features for one post.
I want to highlight the revision history available in most document types.

Revision History shows time stamped changes in the document. It is accessed from the file menu within a document.
File>See revision history

There are several useful features in revision history:

Notice that each collaborator is listed with different colored text. Collaboration is a crucial skill but group projects can be difficult to assess. Did everyone contribute or did Vanessa, Diane and Shelley do all the work while Marc and Howard played "Monty Python quotes" and made rude noises? That almost never happens but you get the idea.

Clicking on an entry in the revision history will show the changes made at that time. Did Howard change one word and call it a "revision"? Did Marc paste an entire paragraph without citation? Once again, examples are for illustrative purposes only.
Howard never does revisions. His work is perfect from the first draft.

Every entry in revision history has a time stamp. Now it is easy to tell if an assignment was finished two weeks ago and polished or if it was done start to finish the night before the deadline.

A teacher can easily tell the who, what and when about the work from revision history.

That is easy- anywhere there is internet. Google Drive is available on the internet 24/7, no software to install and nothing to buy. A device with a browser and an internet connection is all that is needed to use it.

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