Monday, February 1, 2016

Under the Hood: Google Docs Revision History

This is the first post in a new series from EdTechTeam that is designed to help anyone get started with anything. I also hope that these posts might also serve as a refresher for those who might not have used a tool in some time. As we’re well known for our work in the Google Apps for Education space, we’ll be focusing initial efforts there. Other topics will find their way into the series in due time.

I would like to point out that while we personally prefer to focus our efforts on classroom pedagogy and transformational teaching and learning, we acknowledge any change effort requires a starting point. If you’re reading this, and you’re just getting started with instructional technology, I welcome you.

Under the Hood: Google Docs Revision History

One of the best features of Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, and Forms is the Revision History feature. This feature allows the editors and viewers to see the full history of changes made to a file.

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As an educator, the revision history is invaluable for several reasons:

  1. No more unrecoverable mistakes How many times have you accidentally deleted an entire page of text by moving too quickly? I have. In fact, I have done it several times. Having access to the revision history means I can quickly restore the doc to a prior state. Students can too…
  2. Managing group projects more effectively When students are working on a group project, you can quickly use the revision history to see who has contributed content and edits to any given piece of text or presentation. I have used this as an opportunity to head off problems before the team gets off the rails. It takes no time to determine that a student has not been participating and I can have a chat with him to get him contributing to the effort.
  3. Understanding work habits On individual and group assignments, I have used the information from the revision history of a document to better understand the work habits of my students. Unsurprisingly, I found that many of my students tended to work late at night--especially those in middle school and high school. However, deeper investigation led me to discover that some of them didn’t have a choice and were working late at night because they had to care for siblings after they got out of school. This was why they were so tired when they came into class. Armed with this information, I was forced to rethink how I ran my classes in order to not put them to sleep. That’s how I found myself experimenting with Project Based Learning.

What other ways are you using the revision history feature? Be sure to share in the comments below.

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