Digital Collaboration on Presentations

Field Guide Header Student Presentations

The Scenario

Your students are working in small groups on a cooperative learning project. The end product requires each of them contribute to making a presentation that showcases their work. Each student in the group has a particular expertise and something to contribute to the final presentation. It makes the most sense for each student to create and add their own slides to the presentation.


How Tech Can Help

We live in a digital age, and there is an expectation that presentations be digital. This is nothing new, and let’s be honest, the hard part here isn’t figuring out what the product will be. It is going to be a digital slide deck shared with the class.

We’ll leave ensuring the rigor and quality to you.

What tech (and the approach we describe below) can offer you is two key advantages:

  1. Fluid and easy collaborationD
  2. Extensibility, or easily being able to add, share or extend the utility of the presentation (it will no longer be stuck on the computer at the front of the class.)


  1. Getting students to the right places digitally (e.g. – to the right file, with the rght group members, etc.)
  2. Ensuring files are shared properly



For this Field Guide we are going to use Microsoft Teams and PowerPoint.

Before You Go

  1. Create PowerPoint that you will use as a template. For example it may be five slides and on each slide you’ve written directions for what to include (e.g. – title slide, question number 1 slide, question number 2 slide, etc.) You will be uploading a copy of this for each group. You may also want to use your template slides to assign roles or divide the labor (e.g.- Slide 2 is for the student reporting on background information.) This will help grease support students getting to the right place.
  2. Next, create a channel in Teams for the project.
  3. In that channel, go to the files tab and then create a new folder for each group. Use whatever naming convention works best.
  4. Once you’ve created a folder for each group, upload a copy of the PowerPoint template to each group folder (e.g.- If you have eight groups you will upload the PowerPoint 8 times.)

Now you’re all set to get rolling with your students. Let’s take moment though to reflect on what you’ve set up.

By using Teams, you have already taken care of the sharing permissions structure. All students that are part of the team will have the ability to edit the PowerPoints, and to do so simultaneously. We can check off challenge number two.

Teams, also allows you to structure a pathway for students to get to the file they need (e.g. Social Studies Team > History of Women’s Rights Project Channel > Declaration of Sentiments Group.) I would highly recommend writing this out somewhere, either on the board, or on cards placed in front of your students (or both!)


In the Field

  1. After you’ve introduced the project to your students, and they have done the research and work to get ready for making the presentation, have them fire up their devices and open your class team.
  2. Guide the students to the proper folder for their group. Big fan of showing and then walking around to ensure people are in the right place.
  3. Each student will then open the PowerPoint and begin editing.

Let’s pause and look at what should happen next…

At this point, each group of students should be in their PowerPoint, and they should all be looking at the same file. Each of them has the ability to edit and make changes to the document. This is great but also presents a challenge. If everyone starts editing in the same place, things can get messy.

Setting up protocols or having a plan for who is going to go where is essential.

This can be accomplished a number of ways, but we recommend, using the tech itself. An easy way to do this in PowerPoint is to number each slide and then give each student in the group a number. Each student then will be responsible for editing the slides with their number.

Okay back to the process.

  1. During the editing process, you can observe student progress by walking around and interacting with the students, but it is also possible to check in digitally by hopping in the presentation and viewing changes.
  2. This is a good opportunity to have the students review each other’s work by clicking through the slide deck. They can do this individually, or group members can gather around one computer.
  3. Now, the students have each contributed to the building of a PowerPoint by adding to the template and all of the slides are part of one presentation that can be accessed by everybody else on the team.


What’s Next?

  1. If you are having the students present to the whole class, open up Teams on the computer connected to your projector or LCD panel.
  2. Go to the channel for the project and click into the Files tab.
  3. All of the presentations will be right there inside of each group’s folder.
  4. Groups should just click into their folder and open the PowerPoint to present.

Alternate Routes

  1. One option now available in Teams is the ability to create Private Channels and assign only group members to that channel. To mesh this with our path above, create Private Channels instead of folders and then drop a copy of your PowerPoint Template in each channel.
  2. You could also leverage OneDrive’s sharing capabilities to support your students creating and sharing their own PowerPoints with their group members and then share the final product with you.

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