Facilitating group interaction in Google Apps

Google Apps

Google AppsOur pilot roll-out of Google Apps is going well.  To date we’ve invited 12,000 students and nearly 2,000 of them have signed up.  At the moment it’s up to students what they do with the tools and we’re staying out.  The possible uses for formal learning though are intriguing and I just had a chat with Rhodri Thomas about the next steps.

We’re looking at replicating our tutor group structure within Google apps.  That would have two initial benefits:

  1. You could email those in your group more easily
  2. You could share documents with them easily too

It also might make you feel some affinity with those in your group I suppose and be more likely to share things.  Some students of course might not want to be emailed by members of their group or to have documents shared with them so we’ll need to think about that.

Sharing documents with the wider world outside the University is also likely to be of interest.  Currently we’ve locked down the ability for users to share documents outside the domain but there will soon be pressure to open this up.  You might have a collaborative project with people elsewhere or wish to share eportfolio content with a future employer.  There are also third party applications such as DocsToGo which apparently won’t work unless this option is switched on.

Our exploration of the use of Google Apps as an eportfolio system continues.  Eportfolios sometimes need to be assessed, and one of our key requirements will be to ensure that any content that is submitted for assessment is preserved in that state.  Another option would be to export it into our assessment handling (eTMA) system however the alterations to formatting when transferring out of Google Docs and into Word may mean it’s better to keep the documents in Google and invite the tutors to go there instead.