Group projects have a whole host of benefits for students – they encourage organization, time management, feedback and discussion, creative and critical thinking and can greatly improve collaboration skills. However, many students will still tell you group projects are bothersome. Perhaps it’s due to a student who didn’t contribute, difficulty meeting outside of class, or an inability to ensure others are doing the work needed to be successful. While group projects can never be perfect, professors can utilize Google Apps to ease some of the trauma.
The following outlines various Google Applications that can be used to allow students to split and monitor work, as well as ensure organization and timeliness.
Google Documents (similar to a Word document), Slides (like a PowerPoint presentation), and Sheets (a spreadsheet) are Google Applications that allow several users to edit and manipulate the same document using just an Internet connection. Those with access to the document can edit and add content to the document at any time. This allows students to work together on a project without being in the same physical space, eliminating any issues groups might have with meeting outside of the classroom. While one student is adding a paragraph, slide, or other content, the others in the group can be doing the same. The document will live update, leaving the group with an extremely collaborative project.
On top of adding and editing content at the same time in real time, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides save automatically, ensuring no work is lost as the team works on their individual portions of the project.
But perhaps the best part about assigning group work using these Apps is that once shared with the professor, they can simply open the document, click File > Version History > See Version History and they will see each student's contribution to the final project. This is a great way to ensure each student contributed to the final project. In the past, professors depended on word of mouth to gauge whether or not all group members contributed.
Google also allows the creation of Team Drives, which can help students working in groups stay organized and access all group content, even if a group member cannot attend a meeting.
Perhaps the best perk about using Team Drives is that all content can be accessed at any time, as long as there is an Internet connection. This allows group members to check and see if others are completing their tasks. Additionally, if a group member is sick, but the team still needs to look at or edit their work, they can access it in the Team Drive. This allows groups to stay organized and timely.
Google Keep is a task list that easily connects to the Google Calendar. This application allows users to create a to-do list and check off tasks as they are completed. The best part about Keep is these lists can be shared and assigned to others. This is advantageous to group work. A group can create tasks lists for each member. Once a member finishes a task, they simply check it off. At any time, any group member can view the to-do lists to see who has completed their tasks and what tasks still need to be completed by the due date.
To access Google Keep, log into Google, then click on the Google Apps icon and choose Keep.