However, with Google Apps that is not the case. Google provides you with your own personal time machine in a tool called Revision History, which lets you see every change ever made to a document, when the change was made, and who made the change. This powerful tool is available in Google Documents, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings.
So how can teachers use Revision History to improve teaching and learning? See below for an overview of how the tool works, followed by six awesome ideas on how you can put this to use in your classroom.
How Revision History works
To access Revision History you need to be the owner or have edit rights to a file in Google Documents, Slides, Sheets, or Drawings.
- With the file open, click “File” then “See revision history”. This will open a panel on the right side of the screen.
- In the panel you will see entries for all the changes made to the document, along with the date, time, and person who made the change. Each person will have their own color code.
- When you click on an entry, the document will refresh to show you the changes that person made, highlighted in their color code. You can also hover above the changes in the document to see the person’s name in a pop-up.
- If you want to see the changes broken down in smaller time increments, click “Show more detailed revisions” at the bottom of the panel.
- If you want to revert the document back to an earlier version, click on the entry in the panel and then choose “Restore this revision”.
- When done viewing the Revision History, click the arrow in the top left corner of the screen to exit and return to editing the document.
1) Track improvements
2) Restore previous versions
Of course sometimes you may do not want to restore the entire file, since there may be good changes that have happened since the deletion and you do not want to lose them in the restoration process. To reclaim just a small piece that was lost, you can always find the lost text, highlight and copy it, exit Revision History, and then paste the lost text back in. This way you will have the old text, but still keep all the new changes made as well.
3) View the work process
4) Evaluate group work
5) Detect plagiarism / cheating
In addition, the time stamp on the changes show when the document was edited which can reveal other types of cheating. A particularly notable case I heard about was a parent who got caught writing their child’s paper since the time stamp for the changes was while the student was in school in gym class.
6) Investigate harassment / inappropriate use
Do you have other suggestions for how Revision History can be used in school? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!