How to use comments and suggestions to give instant feedback on student work in Google Documents.
One of the challenges of going paperless with Google Docs is finding digital analogs for common things like marking student work. Sharing a document in Google Drive is 100 times more convenient that handing over a sheet of paper, but how do you give feedback that is meaning full and as simple as scribbling notes with a red pen?
Luckily there’re two great tools built into Google Documents, Sheets, and Slides that allow you to leave comments, have others respond, and then mark an issue as resolved.
To demonstrate I’ve broken out my new gif creation tool, which I’m going to be using to the point of annoyance. Enjoy the unnecessary number of moving images!
How to share documents for marking
To be able to leave comments on student work you need either edit or comment permissions on the document in question. To do this your students need to give you either Can edit or Can comment permission when they share a document with you.
To do this your students should click Share in the top right and select Can Edit or Can Comment from the drop down menu of the share window. See below:
Commenting in a Google Document
So, a student has submitted a Google Doc containing the greatest thesis on nuclear fission you’ve ever read, but there’re a few things that you’d like to suggest to raise it to PHD standard — how do you do it?
To comment in a Google Doc highlight the text you want to comment on, right click, and select Comment. A box will appear to the right of the highlighted text letting you enter your recommendations. The student will receive a notification email telling them you’ve made a comment, or if they’re current in the document they’ll see the update live. They can then make the suggested instructions, ask to more information, or mark the comment as resolved to close it.
The same feature exists in all of Google’s core office apps — Slides, Sheets, and Documents all allow you to leave a comment by right clicking.
Using suggestions to give student feedback
But what if you want to get a bit more indepth and actually start suggesting changes that the student could make? The suggestions feature allows you to type directly into the document without overwriting the student’s original text.
To enable Suggesting mode click the drop down menu, just under the Share button.
Now when you highlight text with your cursor and type the original text will be crossed out and your suggested edit shown in green next to it. A box also appears to the right of the document which gives the student the option to accept your changes and make them permanent or revert back to their original version.
With comments and suggestions in Google Docs there’s no longer a need to print out student work to mark with a pen. You can do it all online in an instant! Let me know in the comments if you’ve found other ways to give student feedback in Google Docs.