On Being a Librarian

Trends, Achievements, and Perspectives

Thing 13: Google Docs and Wikis

Google Docs: Collaborating

Instructing college and university students using engaging and active learning processes can be punctuated with the use of Google Docs. For a couple of years now I have used Google Docs in the classroom developing transliteracy skills and demonstrating the value of collective collaboration. Here is an overview of some of the strategies and processes I use when creating Google Docs for use in the classroom:

  • Design your lesson plan providing time for review and reflection
  • Create a Google Doc with sharing options set to one of these options:

  • I choose “Anyone with the  link”.
  • Use images, charts, and other creative outlines in the document to give some visual interest.
  • Create a shortened URL (Bitly, TinyURL, etc.)
  • Provide shortened URL to class when setting learning outcomes and agenda.
  • Leave the Google Doc open on a second screen so students can see contributions.
  • Establish intention for using Google Docs as a collaborative piece in the classroom:
    a.Create a unified document for review.
    b. Ask questions about concepts, ideas, processes without interrupting instruction.
    c. Develop list of resources and links relevant to instruction topic.
  • Refer to and review the Google Doc from time to time during class supporting its use and emphasizing the value of collaborating in the context of college and university studies.
  • Provide link to Google Doc to instructor for placement on course management system (Moodle, BlackBoard)
  • End the instruction session with a group edit of the Google Doc.

Students are amazed by this process and actively participate. For those students reserved and less likely to contribute in a classroom setting, the anonymity of Google Docs for this exercise provides them the avenue to engage with classmates where otherwise they would not.

Follow Google Docs Blog for other fabulous uses.

Wikis: Collaborating

Though I have been involved with wikis for many years I came to fully appreciate the value and power of wikis during a recent employment contract. I initiated a retreat for the team of literacy instructors where an expert from the on-campus Centre for Teaching and Learning presented various tools to extend instruction beyond the single session format. She demonstrated how using a wiki for a specific post-class follow-up and discussion proved useful. Using Wikispaces, follow-up discussion between students, faculty, and librarians extend instruction beyond the 50-minute session opening opportunities to build and strengthen relationships between faculty, students, and the library.
Using wikis to collaborate on teams, for departmental document sharing, and to post updates and news has become an integral part of our professional skills toolkit. I have collaborated with other professionals using wikis to create handout branding policy, contribute to professional publications, garner ideas for professional development sessions, and plan retreats. While some may feel that wikis are yet another place to check for information about their profession or workplace, I contend that benefits for using wikis outweigh the notion of information tool overload and subsequent resistance for their use.

Wiki Benefits

1) Editing across platforms is easy with wikis because they are edited in a web browser. PC or MAC users can easily edit a wiki as long as there is an internet connection.
2) Wikis can be access anywhere when there is internet connection. You can be traveling on a train, between instruction sessions, at home, or in a coffee shop. All files pertaining to the wiki are in the wiki not at a remote server or desktop location where log in may be required.
3) Large documents can be accessed through a wiki avoiding email limitations. Wikis provide options to share documents with individual users or groups.
4) When collaborating on a document, a team can create and edit through several revisions easily tracking those revisions to retrieve the original document as needed.
5) A wiki is private and password protected for access by only those with permissions.

Take a moment to read a recent study from the University of Liverpool on using wikis to promote the personal and professional development of undergraduate students. I content you will find many new ideas and valuable information, and understand the benefits of using wikis within an instructional and problem-based learning environment.

I am an avid and frequent user of the wiki environment and can confidently suggest that the most difficult aspect of using wikis is learning the features, functions, and benefits of the interface. Regardless of the wiki you use, take the time to learn about the features that will make your and others’ collaboration experience positive.

Here is a fine example of how to use a wiki: HLWIKI – a knowledge-base for health librarians.

One comment on “Thing 13: Google Docs and Wikis

  1. Pingback: I LOVE GOOGLE DOCS! « deweysan

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This entry was posted on 10/24/2011 by in Professional Development, Transliteracy, Web 2.0 and tagged , .
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