I’m writing this entire blog post to share one cool tip:
I see a lot of upsides for having students collaboratively write notes in class, and it’s hard to see a major downside. I haven’t done this, but I’m excited to see how it works out when I have the opportunity. (I’m teaching only lab sections this semester, so this kind of thing is moot.)
I know on some campuses, some people make money by preparing and selling lecture notes from large lecture courses. This would essentially defuse that dynamic and also provide uniform access to a resource that would presumably be of high quality.
As an instructor, you could look at the shared notes to see if there are things that you should clarify or amplify upon, and students could even write questions for you at the end of each lesson as well, like a muddiest point.
Apparently, in some places, students are already organizing google docs for their courses, sometimes unbeknownst to the professor. I suppose in situations like these, not all students are in on a shared document. If students want to have their own private google docs, they still can of course, but facilitating a public one might be improve access to a quality shared resource.
While we can always choose to hand out our own lecture notes to students, I think a student record of what we do in class is more valuable to everybody.
Classes on my campus are rarely huge, but I suppose in a gargantuan course, hundreds of people simultaneously editing one document wouldn’t work out so well. You could assign students to groups randomly or haphazardly (maybe 20 students? 50?), and have many of these documents going on simultaneously. Or you could just create a number of docs, and have students choose one. Or perhaps if it’s a lecture with associated lab sections, you could have a separate doc for each section.
(If you or your students have reservations doing this through Google docs, there are also other online collaborative writing tools, from Microsoft, Dropbox, Zoho, Authorea and others).
Have you done this in any of your classes? Or do you have reasons why you think it might not be a great idea?