Interactive Lectures using Google Docs

Technology has come a long way since I was in college. When I attended class, I scribbled poorly written notes in my spiral notebook which I later compared with classmates in a study group while we crammed for tests. Study groups were vital for me to discover anything I missed and an opportunity to ask clarifying questions. It wasn’t that long ago, but times have changed.

This week, I stumbled upon a post about a professor who discovered her students were all logging in to the same Google Doc to take collaborative notes on her lectures. As they took notes they would ask questions and clarify points in real time so as not to miss anything. It was like an interactive study group that took place during class! I think this is a great way to spice up a lecture, and I decided to put together a quick outline of how it may look as a part of a training.  When using the Anchor, Content, Application, Future Use model, this would be Content.

Ground Rules

Interactive Lectures will require the facilitator to set a few ground rules before getting started. I would suggest the following:

  • No slackers; everyone must contribute.
  • Typos happen; don’t shame the less proficient typists or spellers.
  • Share the lead; allow everyone in your group to take the lead, even if they make mistakes.

Interactive Lecture OutlineSharing Google Doc

During this activity, participants work together to create lecture notes. Wording, format, and layout are at the discretion of the group.

  1. Divide participants into groups of four or less.
  2. Assign a Google Doc to each group.
  3. In their groups, ask participants to designate the first Scribe
  4. Explain that first Scribe is to takes notes on the lecture while the other members of the group are expected to contribute to the notes and clarify any missing information. Any questions should be added in the comments or sidebar.
  5. Deliver a brief lecture while the participants collaborate on notes.
  6. After the lecture concludes, allow for a short group discussion about the notes.
  7. Once the discussion wraps up, allow all groups to ask questions or make clarifications.
  8. Repeat with a new Scribe each time content is delivered during this training.

Before an interactive lecture, I would recommend setting up enough Google docs for everyone in your session. It is also wise to have everyone’s email address prior to the session to make sure everyone has the permissions they need to contribute to the notes. As this is only the content portion of this training, these notes should be put to use during later either as a study guide for an assessment or as a resource for an activity.

This activity would be great for very content heavy training like technical or procedural training.

How do you see yourself adding this to your training? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “Interactive Lectures using Google Docs

  1. Love this article. There are so many uses for what are now everyday tools. Heather, as you know, I am a big proponent of taking notes as a group. At Endurance Learning it helps us process what our clients are telling us in real time. 1+1 is always more than 2.

    I would add that using Grammarly is not a bad idea. Now that it is being Beta tested for Google Docs, its a good tool to make people a feel a little less bad about how they type.

    • Thanks Tim! The application at work is incredibly useful, especially as a remote worker. I like the Grammarly suggestion, especially with my less than stellar spelling skills. I only wish it was available across multiple browsers.

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