Version History in Docs, Sheets, and Slides
An essential feature of G Suite is “Revision history.” This has now been updated and renamed to “Version history.” It’s a small modification to the name so hopefully, it isn’t too confusing. It is, however, one additional click. Choosing “See version history” allows you to find the revisions that have taken place in the document since you created it. Google Apps periodically “take a snapshot” of the document you are working on so you can see what it looked like on a particular day and time. Additionally, you can roll it back to a previous version.
Name Current Version
You can not force a version. The time period of the version is set. If something significant to the document is happening, go to the File menu and choose “Version history” and select “Name current version.” If you try to name another version quickly after you named the current version, it will replace the name.
Before distributing Google Docs, Sheets or Slides to students with “Students can edit access” consider naming the current version “Blank template.” This allows you to reuse the exact same Docs, Sheets or Slides repeatedly class after class and year after year.
Use the Same Document
Whenever possible I try to not make copies of Google Apps documents. I simply use the Version history.
My syllabus document is the SAME document for the last 7 years. I simply edit it. I can see what the syllabus looked like last year, the year before and 7 years ago by going to the Version history.
When doing formative assessment Google Slides or Sheets with a class of students I do NOT make a copy per class. I create one Google Slides (or Sheets) and name it “Blank Template.” Then I allow students to add to the Slides as if we were using whiteboards. At the end of the class period I name the version to “1st period.” Then click on “Blank Template” and “Restore version.”
Quick and Dirty Interactive Lecture
If you are using PowerPoint slides for a lecture a quick and dirty way to increase student interaction is to allow students to contribute slides to the presentation.
- Convert the PowerPoint to Google Slides (Right click in Google Drive on the PPT and choose “Open with” Slides.)
- Name the version “Clean Slides.”
- Click on the blue share button and change to “Anyone with the link can edit” OR add to Google Classroom as “Students can edit file.”
- Give students access to the presentation so they can edit it. No stress, you have Version history.
- When asking the class a question invite them to add a slide with their answer rather than simply hearing from one or two students.
- At the end of the period name the version to reflect that classes participation.
- Go to the version history and click on the “Clean Slides” version and restore the version.
- Slides are ready to reuse with a new group of students.
New School Year, Same Document
Instead of making new copies of documents for a new school year, instead, take advantage of named versions. Reuse the exact same document from last year. Restore or update as needed and use with this year’s class. No copies needed!