Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Managing Google Docs in the Classroom

 "How do I manage my Google Docs with so many  documents coming in from so many students?" 
Google Docs makes it easy for teachers to collaborate with their students and not have to worry about losing their homework, but tracking down assignments can be a nightmare. There are a number of ways to approach this from the teachers perspective and the students perspective here. This is how I manage them  step by step.

Step 1) Students create a new Collection (aka  Folder) for my class and title it: Subject - Name
For example: Science - Johnny

Step 2) Students then share the Collection/ Folder with me.

Step 3) I make a new Collection/Folder called Period 2 or whatever makes sense. Find the student Collections (in the lower left under Collections shared with me) and drag them to my newly created Collection.

Step 4) Click here to copy the Assessment Collector Google Spreadsheet
(You must be logged into your Google Account).

Step 5)  I embed this Google Form into my class website.
Don't have a website yet? Think about using a student as a webmaster.

Step 6)  Once I've edited the names of the assignments and students have copied and pasted their  links, I can filter the list by period or assignment.

Then I can use the built-in Viewer tab. (You may see a button asking you to load the tab).

This tab allows me to view, comment or edit the Google Doc, Spreadsheet or Presentation 'handed in' without ever having to leave the window. I can then click NEXT through all the collected  assignments.

An important aspect of this process is that the students are sharing work in a way that teachers can edit while simultaneously building their own collection of assessments.

Step 7) One limitation of the viewer is that it only reads URLs that begin with http not https. You can use the built in Find and Replace feature or if you're a little adventurous, set it up a script to do it automatically. The script is included in the spreadsheet, you just have to turn on the Form Submit trigger.

Step 7a) Select Tools > Script editor
Step 7b) Select Resources > Current script's triggers...

Step 7b) Click the link No triggers set up. Click here to add one now.
                      Change On open to On form submit and click Save

Step 7c) Click Authorize > Click Close and Exit that tab.

This means whenever a student copy and pastes a URL that starts with https it will replace it with http.

[Printable version of these steps HERE]

To learn more about managing Google Docs in the Classroom (and to see Kern Kelley speak) come to the Google Apps for Education Maine Summit on August 17 & 18, or to a summit in a region near you.


  1. Thanks for the post. Well I am a teacher in Dubai, It's such a nice way to incorporate using Docs in schools. Well, I am also planning to start such a session in my class but with Google docs there is this problem of sharing our spreadsheet online but how do we hide a column from someone who has the access to edit? Anyone can just unhide the column and see all the data along with your tiny internal notes. Recently a colleague of mine shared about this tool called CollateBox which allows to share just parts of spreadsheet data.

  2. Seriously helpful. I have Google doc files from students I taught four years ago. Need to clean house and keep it from happening again!


  3. Thank you for the cool tip. I love pure Google solutions. We are working on a more complete solution at our school board. I suggest you try Edmodo it has «Google docs integration» and is a great way to manage and grade assignments. The idea is for the teacher to post the assignment in Edmodo and the students use Google Docs to do the work. We are in a test phase so I cannot say if I am a fan or not. Try is free.

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  14. I've wrote about this a year ago - I use(d) google forms to keep student work organized. Here is what I said:

    Doctopus is also a great add-on to google docs that helps keep you organized.

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