Teaching Practice

Shared Course Notes

Literacy: convening hybrid and digital community

One way to create a sense of ownership in a learning community—and incentivize low-stakes digital participation via any device—is by using a shared document for corporate note-taking.

Check out the video for a quick demo of how to set up a shared document using Google Drive.

Ways to scaffold participation:

  • demonstrate how to access and contribute to the document
  • take notes in the document yourself during discussions and student presentations
  • use the document as a collection point for reporting out on small group activities
  • encourage students to make additional points, ask questions, and contribute additional resources
  • help keep the document tidy by adding headings for different sessions and activities
  • use a URL shortener to give easy access to web pages verbally or on the board

You can also consider creating a separate shared document for each course session. Wise practices in this case include:

  • use a consistent naming/linking convention in case you forget to announce the day’s URL at the beginning of class
  • store all the files in a group-accessible folder for easer access

Don’t forget to archive and distribute the notes at the end of the semester!

Ministry applications

Group writing and editing of cloud-based documents is a useful collaboration skill in ministry teams and can contribute positively to a culture of transparency and documentation.

Shared note-taking emphasizes that all participants in a group activity can contribute. Some participants may even prefer this form of non-verbal engagement.

Other benefits

This practice can also help you monitor student in-class technology habits in a low-key way. File-sharing services like Google Docs will show you how many users have the document open, and even their names if they’re logged in.

Hat tip to Lalitha Vasudevan for modeling this practice in all her courses.

Background image: “3 pens on a composition book” by Leslie Richards via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)