This is a guest post by one of our blog writers, Sarah Joncas.
With so much teaching and learning being online right now, Google Docs has become an even more useful tool for music teachers. Google Docs is a web-based word processing tool. Google Docs are shared in a user’s Google Drive, which allows for access from any web-connected device. Google Docs are easy to share and can be viewed by anyone in a web browser, with no need for special software or worries about file type compatibility.
Google Docs and Google Drive allow you to create, share, and collaborate on files with people in the same room or halfway around the world. The sharing features of Google Docs are very useful, and with a few expert tips you can make the most of everything Google Docs has to offer.
In addition to being useful for sharing Google Docs, all these tips will also work for other files within the Google Suite, such as Google Sheets, Google Slides, and Google Forms. One set of tips, many different uses!
Edit, Comment, View: The Basic Share Settings
When you share a Google Doc, there are three different kinds of access that you can give to a user. You can allow a user (or multiple people) to:
- Edit the Google Doc
- Comment on the Google Doc
- View the Google Doc
Edit access is just what it sounds like, the user can make changes to the Google Doc and type into it as if it were their own.
Comment access allows a user to suggest changes and add comments to the Google Doc, but they cannot directly change the document itself. This can be a useful tool for getting feedback on a proposal or lesson idea.
View access allows a user to view a Google Doc. They won’t be able to change the document itself. I use this setting often if I want someone (often a student) to be able to read something that they don’t need to make any changes to.
When sharing a Google Doc, you can enter email addresses or names of people in your contacts and select any of these levels of sharing permission to give each user. If you’d like to give several people the same level of sharing access, you can put all of their emails in the box and then select which access level you’d like to give them.
I usually enter email addresses to share directly if it’s something I’m sharing internally – with other music teachers, for example, or with my supervisor. However, sometimes we want to share Google Docs more widely, and there’s an easy way to do that without typing email addresses all day.
By clicking on “Get shareable link” in the top right corner of the share screen, you can turn on link sharing to allow individuals who have been given the link to access a Google Doc. Each Google Doc has a unique web address, and by turning on sharing, anyone who has been given that address can find the Google Doc. The default link share setting is “anyone with the link can view”.
With the settings like this, anyone that I provide with that link will be able to view my Google Doc, but not make any changes to it. They can see what I’ve shared, but can’t alter it in any way. If I open the drop-down menu, I can give anyone with the link access to comment or edit if I want as well.
Be aware with these settings that your link could be shared beyond the people you gave it to, since it’s just a web address. I always make a private copy of any file I’m about to change to “Anyone with the link can edit” access just in case the contents of the Google Doc are accidentally or maliciously deleted.
Differences in Link Sharing on A School Account
When using a Google Apps for Education or Google Business account, sharing settings are a tiny bit different. There’s an extra step to making a file accessible to the world beyond your school’s users. When I go to link sharing on my school account, this is what I see:
All of the options will only allow Canton Public Schools people to access. However, if I select More, I can see more sharing options.
If I want anyone with the link to be able to view the file, even if they are outside the school district, I would select On – Anyone with the link.
If you ever have people struggle to access a Google Doc you’ve shared from your school account, checking the link sharing settings to make sure anyone with the link can access is always a good first step.
Copies for everyone! The best tip in this article
Want to let other music teachers have their own copy of something you created? There’s an easy trick with a shared link that you can use to force them to make a copy of your Google Doc, which will preserve your original document.
Let’s say you want to share a link in a Facebook group for other music teachers:
- Open your Google doc
- Then open up the share settings and turn on Anyone with the link can view
- Next, copy the link
- Paste the link into the comment or post but BEFORE you hit send, edit the link: delete the word “edit” that appears at the end of the link and change it “copy”
Once you’ve done that, share that “copy” link with your intended recipients. When they click the link they’ll see this:
When someone makes a copy of a Google Doc, they are not changing the original at all. This lets different music teachers each have their own file to modify, adapt, or use as they see fit. I’ve found this very useful when sharing worksheets I’ve created with other music teachers, since they can change the questions to suit their students without altering my copy.
Speedy sharing with shared folders and shared drives
Shared Folders and Shared Drives make sharing a bunch of files with the same group of people easy. Any Google account can share folders within Google Drive.
Create a folder, put files inside it, then change the share settings on the entire folder to share with the people you want to share with. All of the files inside the folder will automatically adopt the same share settings.
I use Shared Folders to collaborate with a group of my colleagues from other schools on lesson ideas – we all drop things into a shared folder and they’re automatically shared with the people who have access to the folder.
Shared Drives are only available on Google Apps for Education and Google Business accounts, not regular commercial GMail accounts. But for those who have access to them, they’re an amazing feature! A Shared Drive is basically a supercharged Shared Folder, allowing a group of people access to many Google Docs and folders all in one place. My school has a Shared Drive for staff members, and so does the performing arts department for my school district. They are useful for sharing information and resources with large groups of people, and can be organized with folders within them.
These tips and tricks should help make sharing a Google Doc even easier! Google Docs are a great tool for collaboration, and knowing how to set the share settings can make it even easier to collaborate with other music teachers near and far.
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About the writer
Sarah Joncas is a music teacher from Massachusetts, USA. She teaches kindergarten through fifth grade general music, fifth grade chorus, fifth grade band, and percussion ensemble. Before becoming a teacher, she worked with technology and educational software.
In 2014, she was named a TI:ME Technology in Music Education Leadership Fellow, which allowed her to attend a music education conference in Texas and explore cutting edge music teaching technology. She has earned degrees in Music Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Boston University. You can connect with Sarah on Twitter or her blog Teaching Music Musings.
Looking for More Resources for Music Teachers?
Hello! I’m Katie Wardrobe – an Australian music technology trainer and consultant with a passion for helping music teachers through my business Midnight Music.
I’m a qualified teacher but no, I don’t currently teach in a school. I help teachers through my online professional development space – the Midnight Music Community – where there are tutorial videos, courses, links and downloadable resources.
I like to focus on easy ways to incorporate technology into what you are already doing in your music curriculum through a range of creative projects. I also run live workshops and have presented at countless conferences and other music education events.
If you want simple, effective ideas for using technology in music education, I would LOVE to help you inside the Midnight Music Community.