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Using online document management systems


Students will decide how they can best utilize file sharing tools like Google Docs, Trello and Dropbox for their media program.


  •  Students will analyze how other groups utilize file sharing tools like Google Docs, Trello and Dropbox.
  • Students will complete research to learn how other media staffs are using file sharing tools like Google Docs, Trello and Dropbox.
  • Students will create a “How To” guide for using file sharing systems like Google Docs, Trello and Dropbox with their staff.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.


Four 50-minute classes


Internet access

Examples: Sample guidelines from other schools on how to use file sharing programs like Google Docs, Trello and DropBox

Rubric: Management system presentation

Lesson step-by-step

1. Building background — 10 minutes

Explain to students that many successful student groups use a file-sharing program like Google Docs, Trello or Dropbox to maintain better communication among staff members and to facilitate the production cycle for the publications.  Today we’re going to begin researching some of the ways the groups around the country use such file sharing programs, and we will decide how and why we want to use any of these programs with our staff.

2. Research — 40 minutes and continued for homework

Students will use the Internet to research active media programs around the country who use file sharing programs like Google Docs, Trello and Dropbox. They will develop a list of questions they would like to use in an interview when they contact an adviser or student editor of the program that they find.

Questions could include:

–       How long have you used whatever file sharing system you’re using and how have you changed the way you use it?

–       What are their primary ways you use it?

–       How do the students on your staff react to using it?

–       What specific pros and cons can you share with me about using the file sharing system you use?

–       Do you use any other file-sharing programs?  If so, which ones and what for?

– Students will set up and conduct their interviews and then present the data they have learned to the class.

3. Presentations — 1 class block (50 minutes)

Each student will present what he or she has learned from the different schools around the country.  As the presentations are made, someone in the class should create a list of possible uses of the various file sharing systems on the whiteboard or using the document camera in the front of the class or on a multimedia projector (whatever is available in your classroom).

Examples of uses for file sharing systems could include:

–       Writing all drafts of stories, scripts, etc.

–       Editing using comments or editing any shared documents

–       Sharing photos, smaller videos, Indesign pages, audio, spreadsheets

–       Creating a document for deadlines

–       Creating a document for each issue, broadcast, yearbook spread, etc., where stories can be assigned, angles can be described, photos, infographics, sidebars, etc., can be assigned and a dialogue can exist that allows students to maestro without having to meet face-to-face

–       Staff database can be uploaded so students know how to get in touch with other staff members anytime

–       Grading expectations are available for students and parents (anyone with username and password) to see at any time

–       Students can create an electronic portfolio of all their work throughout a year or their journalism career

–       Documents that the teacher wants to share (how-to write features, personality profiles, restaurant reviews, etc.) can be uploaded

–       Examples of good writing that the teacher wants the students to read can be uploaded and organized in a folder

–       Teacher can upload objectives for the day, week, unit, etc., or the calendar function can be used to remind students of deadlines, events to cover etc.

–       A Google form or document can be used by students to gather data in a survey

–       A Google form or document can be used by the teacher to gather info from students

4. Follow-up — 1 class block (50 minutes)

Using the data that was presented in the last class block, create a proposal for using one or more of these file sharing programs with your media organization.  Your proposal should be a slideshow presentation that includes:

a.     How your group’s file sharing system should be structured

b.     What categories do you think your group’s file sharing system should have?

1.    For each specific category, describe how it will be set up and what will be included in it to make it user-friendly (make sure you have at least five activities)

c.     Why it’s important to use a file sharing system with your group

d.     Suggested timetable for getting a file sharing system set up and for everyone to be using it effectively

5. Combining best ideas from all Power Points — 1 class block (50 minutes)

Looking at all the proposals during this class block, we will decide as a class what ideas we like best and will list which elements we want to institute as a staff and who will design each of those elements (as well as by when).

You may wish to send this list of suggestions to your editorial board for approval and later implementation.