Google just announced that you can share folders — instead of just individual documents — in Google Apps.
I’ve wanted this feature for a long time. There are many benefits. Here are five reasons that folder sharing will help teachers and students:
- Electronic portfolios. Instead of sharing a number of documents one by one, students can turn in various assignments all as one batch. On assignments like portfolios, this will be perfect. Students can collect their best work, put it in a folder, create a cover letter, and use their folder in a portfolio presentation.
- Organization. One of the hardest things to do in Google Docs is staying organized. When you have thousands of documents coming from hundreds of students, it gets overwhelming. With folder sharing, a student can add in a new document into his or her folder, and you’ll receive it, already organized, in your folder. This gets me thinking: I could create a folder for each student, organize all of them by class, and never have to worry again about tidying up my Docs list.
- Teacher Collaboration. The leader of the Advisory 9 team approached me at the beginning of the year because she had heard that I had created some good curriculum last year for the class. I told her that my stuff was all on Google Docs and that she was welcome to use my account to find documents she liked. It took her way too long because she had to identify individual documents and share them one by one. Too bad folder sharing is new because it would have saved her a lot of time. Being able to share folders means being able to share lesson plans and ideas for entire classes. I have a belief that our teaching practice will improve because sharing ideas will be easier.
- No More Sharing Individual Documents. This is similar to the one above, but it deserves its own bullet point. Before folder sharing, I would have two steps: (1) share the document with everyone on my team, (2) put the document into the correct folder. Now #1 is gone! The drag-and-drop functionality reminds me of Live Mesh, except the sync is now with different people and different computers. It actually feels a little like the rumored Google Drive to me.
- Better Communication with Advisers and Parents. At our school, students get an adviser in ninth grade who follows them until they graduate. The adviser is the student’s advocate and liaison to the student’s family. This means it’s crucial for the adviser to know the student well. Folder sharing will make communication run much more smoothly. When a student creates a new folder, he or she can share it not just with the teacher but also with the adviser, who will collect the student’s work without any additional steps. Furthermore, parents can stay updated even if they don’t have a Google Docs account. The adviser can email the parent a link to the folder. Once again, Google’s folder sharing feels very much like Dropbox or some other simple in-the-cloud syncing and storage application.