We have been using Google Docs with our students for over a year now and I have spent some time writing about our experiences so far. One of the key questions that I have been exploring for a while now is “How do you mark and manage student work in Google Docs?” but this simple question is applicable to most other online office tools. In this post I explore a facet of this type of assessment that I would call “unobtrusive collaboration”.
On a number of occasions in the last year I have taken the opportunity to conduct a “live marking” session with the children in my class. They are working on a piece of work that is shared with me – I open it at the same time and add comments and marking to the piece of work. I would often also back these comments up by talking to the children involved, going over to them to reinforce what I had commented on – actively engaging them in the collaboration.
In some of these instances I would just nip into the doc and take a quick look around to check the progress, leave a comment if appropriate and leave them to it. I think this is an interesting type of quiet monitoring as the children are working. In the online document I can mark, highlight and leave comments without intruding on the flow of work that is taking place.
With paper based tasks or work that does not allow synchronous editing I would have to interrupt what the children are working on to inspect their work more closely. I might have to ask them to scroll to different sections or simply to move their writing hand so I can see what they have done over their shoulder!
Of course we must always find time to talk to our children face to face about the progress of their work, and I am not disputing the value of this, but often it does intrude on the flow of work. This sense of passive collaboration offers us the opportunity to access all of the children’s work very quickly and to quietly monitor progress and to add our comments.
I think that this sort of unobtrusive marking or monitoring is especially useful when my children are working in a small group or a pair. They are often busy talking about what they are doing or about to move onto and I do not want to stop that communication, or break their train of thought. Last Wednesday I quietly added comments and thoughts to my class as they were busy working in pairs on an activity in Religious Education. They picked up on those comments, adjusted their work, responded if they needed to, but it essentially did not halt the immediate process – it was a tacit collaboration.
What experiences have you had of marking and managing the ongoing assessment of work in Google Docs or other online office tools with your students?
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- So can I use Google Docs at home?
- Marking work in Google Docs
- Creating an emotion graph using Google forms
- It’s about the communication, not the tool
- Tips for introducing online collaboration to students
Image: ‘a perfect circle‘