Labor Day weekend. Time to take a break from our first week with students. Time to relax, have a cook out, watch some football. And, time to organize my folders for the semester planning sessions that are about to roll into full swing this week.

Our school district uses Google Apps and, therefore, we have the ability to collaborate with people – in real time- from wherever they may be. And, we can share documents – placing them into folders accessible to our coworkers at any hour of the day and, even on holidays!

Today I organized our school’s folders. In particular, there is a general “Planning” folder and inside that folder are folders for the four testable content areas. Inside each of these four folders are folders for each of the grade levels. Going to the next level we have Assessments, Lesson Plans, and other resource folders. And, eventually each of those will have folders within them.

The TRICKY part is the sharing of these folders. If you, for example, share the main Planning folder with everyone and allow them all editing rights, then everyone will be able to go down to the smallest file in the deepest folder and edit it. So someone, with no malicious thoughts, goes in and finds a file and starts editing it. Then they decide they want to move the file into their personal folder (a folder with no sharing rights). Suddenly, poof!, no other teachers see this file any more. It happens. Quite a bit.

After 6 years of using Google Apps, I know to go in and make the outer most folder “View Only.” Teachers can make copies of any file they want and make it their own – leaving the original undisturbed.  But what about this collaboration that is so great with Google Docs? That’s where I go in and make conscious decisions about the rights of every folder – from the outside, in.

For example, if my 6th grade math teachers go inside the math folder and then open up the 6th grade folder they will find they have editing rights to everything inside of that folder. My 7th grade math folks have view only to the 6th grade folders – we don’t want them accidentally removing or destroying an important file for the other teachers.

Google Docs are an incredibly great tool for teachers to use. Having someone in charge of the overall rights to the folders makes everyone a LOT happier.

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