Pairing Google Docs with Breakout Rooms: a hack for better feedback

#BreakOutRooms #GoogleDocs #Zoom #ELearning #EdTech #Feedback #EmergentLanguage #Dogme #HighDemandELT
During yesterday’s SLB webinar on Zoom, Microsoft Teams and FlipGrid, my SLB colleagues Anita Derecskei , James Venner and I ended up talking about how Google Docs is a handy tool to pair with Zoom. While Zoom has an integrated whiteboard option, anything that is drawn or written on it needs to be saved and somehow passed on to students. A convenient alternative is to have a primary Google Doc for your group and use that as your whiteboard. This does away with the need for file sharing and keeps things simple.
A dedicated Google Doc for a group is a barebones yet efficient alternative to the bloated mess that is Moodle. All you have to do is share the link once and there’s no need for usernames or passwords.
This discussion led me to reflect on how we can keep track of multiple group speaking tasks that are running simultaneously on Zoom in different breakout rooms. One option is to rotate through the groups and give feedback – but what are the remaining groups doing while they’re on their own? How do they get feedback?
While we definitely should be rotating through the groups and listening in to provide immediate or delayed feedback, the following procedure can make the feedback process more robust.
  • Create a Google Doc for every breakout room.
  • Give the Google Doc and its corresponding Breakout Room the same distinctive name.
  • Grant your learners access to these docs and grant permission to edit.
  • Post the links in the main class doc.
While your students are doing pair/group speaking in the breakout rooms have them take turns type what their classmates are saying. For a five minute speaking task set a clear expectation, e.g. a minimum of four sentences. When you reconvene as a single group after the speaking task you should have at least a partial written record of what was done in the groups. You can then go through the texts and elicit error correction and language upgrading, either by entering each group doc separately or quickly copying and pasting the texts to the main class page. To avoid this being overly teacher-led, have your learners return to their breakout rooms for a few minutes to attempt error-correction/language upgrading in groups. (If enabled they can use the comments feature to post their suggestions.) Then reconvene and review together.
Getting learners to take notes on each other’s speaking in their room’s dedicated Google Doc means everyone can get deferred feedback. What’s more, requiring a written record encourages accountability.
The above is the main Google Doc for one of my groups. I have inserted a link to my Breakout Rooms Google Doc (see below). To avoid clutter on my main page I have the links below in a separate document, but for simplicity’s sake they could go directly on the main page.
Give permission to edit when creating the link. (see below)

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