Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What happens when you invite students to collaborate on a google doc....

Confused Sign
Originally uploaded by kudaker

..... and you use their university email address?

I've had a gmail account for years. I've used google documents with others for years. I've presumed that when I sent invites to universith colleagues to access a timetable in a google doc spreadsheet and fill in their availability etc, that this was quite an easy task to respond to. Although I had noticed that few people tended to actually add anything to the spreadsheet and emailed me back instead.

A few weeks ago, I invited the 7 students who I am working with on an audit project over the next year to collaborate on google documents. I used their university emails. Some of them could access the initial brainstorming document but they seemed to be denied access to to edit. Others couldn't even see the document. And a few 'asked permission' to edit, which I agreed to, although it seemed to be to the same email address which already had permission to edit! I was confused. They were confused.

So I decided to try it out for myself. I gave access to myself through my Cardiff Uni address to see how the process worked. This is what happened by way of my explanation to students:
"1. I received an email with a link which showed me the document and asked me to sign in with a google acount.
2. I didn't have a google account for Cardiff Uni address so I had to click to set one up.
3. I entered in Cardiff Uni email address and selected a password.
4. After a few minutes I received an email asking me to confirm that I had set up an account. When I clicked on this/logged in and clicked on docs, it looked as if the account was completely empty. There were no documents there.
5. I went back to the email with the link to the document. I clicked it and this time instead of being brought through to see the document I was told that I have been invited to share a document and I could click to accept or decline.
6. I accepted and was then able to go in and edit the document and invite others, and send all of you a mesage!
So if you are having trouble could you please follow these steps."

What have I learned? 1. If you invite someone to collaborate on a document and they don't already have a google account in that email address they might find the process more difficult that you think. It might be a good idea to instruct them to start by creating the google account.

2. I am so familiar with google accounts and documents that I assumed the process would be more striaghtforward to others than it was.

So, now for the question. What has been your experience of collaborating with students, or another group, who are unfamiliar with gdocs? What tips do you have?


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