Friday, March 6, 2009

Creating "Templates" in GoogleDocs

Update:  This summer, template creation was enabled in CCSD GoogleApps.  When you're in GDocs, choose "Browse Gallery."  You'll be able to view templates that other folks in CCSD have published or submit your own.  If you only want your class to work with something you've created, follow the directions below (and be sure to share for "view only").

Using templates with students, particularly those who struggle, can be a great way to provide structure for a variety of activities. We've seen teachers create templates in MS Word for 3 column notes, PowerPoint presentations, brochures. etc. (The templates option in Inspiration also gets a lot of mileage around here.) However, getting a teacher-created template ready for lab use is a bit cumbersome. Not only do you have to copy that file (we use ARD) to all machines, but you also have to be pretty careful about where that template has to live.

Now that we have started using GoogleDocs at our school, we've found that templates are very easy to create and use with students and require little (if any) help from technology support folks.

GoogleDocs does have the option to create something from an existing template, but the selection may not quite match what a teacher is hoping to use. In addition, I have not yet found a way to submit a template to Google. This is where sharing comes in.

If you create something in GoogleDocs that you'd like your students to use, you can share that document with the students (if you've imported your students into a contact list ahead of time, you can share with the group in one fell swoop). In sharing options, choose as "Viewers" rather than as "Collaborators." This will ensure that your students won't edit or change your original "template."

When the students log in and see the document you've shared with them, have them use the "Save as new copy" command under the "File" menu. This will create a copy of your template that they can then edit and change. Plus, it will retain you as a collaborator, meaning that you can collaborate on the document with the students, if needed.

This is a great way to use a template that is accessible from anywhere, modifiable by the teacher, and quickly shared with other colleagues who might be doing a similar assignment.