Google Drive allows for a high level or collaboration and asynchronous communication. Edits, Comments, Suggestions, Docs “Shared with me”–all of this can make workload more manageable, however it can make workflow difficult. I have used a system of shared folders for the last few years that has allowed me to channel workflow, cut down on unnecessary notifications and create student portfolios.

This is what I’ve done…

Step 1: Create a folder in Drive unique to each student. It is best to have some standard system for naming folders: FIRSTNAME_SECTION, LASTNAME_SECTION, FIRSTNAME_SECTION_YEAR, etc. I choose FIRSTNAME_SECTION.

Step 2: Share this folder with the students and give him/her “Can edit” permissions. Do this once at the beginning of the year and you’ll have it all year.

Share with others

Step 3: Instruct him/her to move the folder from “Shared with me” to “My Drive.” This makes it easier to find and fill over the course of the year.

Step 4: Instruct him/her to produce as much work as possible native in this folder in Drive. Most of these files as Docs, but they can also be Slides, Drawings, Sheets, Forms, etc. This will endow all future files from any Google App with the same shared permissions. Where they need to work in outside platforms–for audio or video, for instance–instruct them to drag the file into the shared folder.

Drive View

Step 5: Do all of your own editing/commenting/suggesting/correcting in the right folder. I use the editing and commenting features right in Docs to provide feedback on drafts. I have also toyed with Chrome apps like Screencastify and Kaizena as tools to give voice comments as feedback. Where you want to use an external tool, be sure to bring the final draft of the file back into the shared Drive folder. For example, I typically correct final drafts of work with Notability on the iPad. I like the functionality and the files are easy to move if you link this–or any app–to your Drive account. n the screenshot below there are Google Docs, PDFs and mp3 files. The shared folder could also include maps, drawings, videos, sheets, etc. All would have the same access because it is in the shared folder.

Portfolio 1

I choose Notability for two main reasons. First, I like marking up final drafts by hand and Notability gives me all kinds of ways to do so. Second, the app creates a PDF, so there is never any confusion about last minute edits. If there is opportunity for a rewrite, there is never any problem because the work still exists as a Google Doc in Drive.


What are the benefits to all this?

  • I take control of my workflow.
  • I don’t have hundreds of stand-along documents shared with me, each with its own notification.
  • I know where to find what I need.
  • My students know where to create and curate their work.
  • We end the year with a complete portfolio of final drafts, work with comments, works in progress. I can assess progress and growth over time.
  • I find that the level or detail and the comments on work–mine and my students’–helps enormously when it is time to write recommendations or prose comments.

Give shared folders in Google Drive a try!

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