Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Google Apps: Collaboration, Consultation, and Supervision

The productivity tools contained in Google Apps (Drive, Docs, Slides, etc) are available to many SLPs and students through your school district's likely Google Apps for Education setup, or if not, via a free Google account. I have of late found Google Apps very useful in several ways:

-Collaborating with other professionals in written products such as proposals, presentations and other documents

-Performing consultation activity by asking students to Share select pieces of their work or projects with me

-Supervising graduate students and giving them the opportunity to practice some of the important written aspects of our job (e.g. writing parts of reports or parent communication)

Part of what makes Google Apps so popular is the built-in communication tools that are available around a document or other file. First, of course, you need to click the Share button and make the document available to the other person (or ask him/her to do the same). This allows you to work on the same document in real time without dealing with the mess of emailing different attached versions back and forth.

Commenting is one key way to collaborate on Google Docs. To comment in a document, highlight some text and click the comment icon or Insert>Comment. Your collaborator can dismiss any comments once they have been seen, but the history of comments for that document can always be viewed under the Comments button in the upper right.

I discovered this year that you can change from co-editing a document into Suggesting mode. When working with grad students or clients on a document, this enables you to put more explicit feedback into the document. 

The other person will see this annotation in the document and via a corresponding comment, can accept or dismiss it. 

I hope this year you will find these features of Google Apps useful when working with other professionals, students, or graduate interns. Keep in mind that Google Apps does not offer guarantees of confidentiality, so it is best to avoid using full names when writing evaluation reports or other sensitive documents. They can always be downloaded (File>Download as>Word) and edited to add personal information such as full names, birthdates, etc.

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