Tuesday, November 1, 2016

GSuite for Education- Understanding the Sharing Settings

This year has been a little strange and incredibly busy for me at school. As a result, I haven't been blogging nearly as much as I would like to. However, I recently encountered a GSuite question about sharing settings that inspired this blog post.

Sharing settings are so important so that we can ensure that we are following copyright laws, keeping student information private, and storing information responsibly.

How do I share a document?
This quick video outlines the procedure for sharing a document on Google Drive.

Sharing Settings
Keep in mind that this part is specific to GSuite for Education- we have a few more options and protections available than normal Google users. Yay!

Sharing via Email
It's best to share via email when you're only sharing with a few specific people, such as a grade level team or an administrator. When sharing via email, you have three options:

  • Can view- the person you are sharing with via email can only view the item. They will be able to make a copy or share with others however, unless you take additional protections (see below)
  •  Can comment- when you select this option, the person you are sharing with via email will be able to make comments and suggestions, but they will not actually be able to edit the document in any way. You can accept or reject their comments and suggestions
  • Can edit- this setting gives the other person full editing rights to make any changes to the document, share with others, etc. 
Link Sharing
Link sharing is best when you are sharing with a large group of people, such as an entire school or district, or when sharing with parents. Please note that in some GSuite domains, administrators have chosen to enable settings that prevent sharing outside the domain. When you use link sharing, you have several options that combine with the options above. You will still need to decide whether those you share it with via link can edit, comment or view, as outlined above.
The first two choices, if your organization's GSuite Administrator has not disabled them, allow you to share outside your school or district domain. Proceed with extreme caution when using these options:

  • Public on the web- when you select this setting, anyone on the internet can find and access these documents. They are searchable and can show up in Google Search Results. 
  • Anyone with the link- these documents are also accessible to anyone on the internet, but only if they have a direct link. These are not searchable and cannot be found in a Google Search. 

The last two choices allow you to share easily within your domain, and are not accessible by anyone who is not signed into an account associated with your school or district domain.

  • Your domain- anyone in your domain can find these documents on Drive and access them
  • Anyone at your domain with link- anyone in your domain can access these documents, but must have a link to do so.
Please remember, you still must choose whether those you share with via link can view, comment, or edit.

Additional Protection
When sharing a document with others, Google allows you to add some additional protections to help protect your work and that of others. From the sharing tab, follow the "advanced" link in the lower right corner as shown in the image below.
Next, you will get a screen that looks like this:
With this screen you can change permissions you've already given, such as reverting an editor to a viewer or revoking access altogether. Down at the bottom, in the area circled red in the above picture, you're also provided a few special options as the document owner.

  • Prevent editors from changing access and adding new people: this setting prevents other editors on the document from changing any sharing settings or sharing with others
  • Disable options to download, print, and copy for commenters and viewers: when you select this setting, only editors will be able to download, print, or copy. Other viewers will only be able to view the document and will not be able to do anything else with it, including copy it to their drive

Publishing to the Web
Another way to share a document is by publishing it to the web (found in the file menu of the open document).

When a document is shared to the web it is viewable by anyone and can be picked up in Google Searches unless you click the option that requires users to sign into their school account on your domain (shown in the image below). This is the case regardless of whatever other settings you have on the document. Once it is published to the web, it is no longer private until you click the "stop publishing" button.

I hope this better help you to understand how Google's myriad sharing settings work and helps you to choose wisely to protect sensitive student information and follow copyright laws!

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