Sharing for Teachers: When to use Google or SharingTree?

The expectations placed on teachers are increasing quickly, and I’m not sure any of us can meet them by ourselves. Eddie and I built SharingTree.net to help teachers share, collaborate, and inspire each other. Not just the teachers you see in video meetings but also teachers from around the WORLD. In this article, we show ways to share your curriculum using Google and SharingTree and the benefits of each service.

Sharing options provided by Google and SharingTree

1. Provides a URL

This is the most basic function for both services, and they both offer similar capabilities.  

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Google Drive

To share any file or folder in your Google Drive you can follow this three-step process.

Step 1 – Right click and select ‘Share’ on file or folder

Step 2.  Select your sharing options. For public sharing choose ‘Anyone with the link’ and ‘Viewer’.

Step 3.  Copy the link and share.

SharingTree

Sharing a file on Sharingtree requires the following:

  1. Go to SharingTree.net, select ‘Add a leaf’, then select the file to share in your Google Drive.  You must be signed in share.
  2. Add tags, a description and choose copyright type
  3. Copy the link for for your Leaf and share anywhere.  We call shared content Leaves.

SharingTree allows you to share ANY file in your Google Drive through our website, SharingTree.net.  Just click the  ‘Add a leaf’ button shown below.  

Using ‘Add a leaf’  to share files on SharingTree

To use ‘Add a leaf’ you must be signed in, find/select the file in your Google Drive, complete the tagging process, and then copy the URL.   See the short video below on this process.  

The last step once a leaf is published it to copy the link (from URL or share icon) and use your link as normal on FB, Twitter, email, etc.

Two ways to copy link for shared content (Leaf or Group)

2-6. These steps take some extra time for publishers but it protects your files and allows users to easily find them.  

Here our service starts to show its benefits over Google Drive. It will take about 1 minute to share your content on SharingTree since you are adding tags and a description.

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Google Drive

Google does not provide these options, with the exception that Google does generate preview images for Slides and Drawing files.

SharingTree

The major benefits for items 2-6 are the following:

1. No more File -> Make a copy for users accessing your shared file or trying to find copied files in your Google Drive. All shared files are added to your Google Drive when you ‘Open’ a Leaf or Group. For a Group we transfer all the files to a folder in your Google Drive so you can easily find and edit them.

2. Users can search the WEB or SharingTree.net to find your content.  If you have ever tried to search for ‘Google Docs’ you know it is an uphill battle.  The option to share a Google file with ‘Anyone with the link’ provides limited ways for people to find your file on the web.  

3. SharingTree provides a permanent backup of all your Open/Purchased/Published files. SharingTree protects your files by making a separate copy and never sharing them from your Google drive.  

If you have ever clicked an older link and seen Google’s “Page not found” message, it just means the file is not shared anymore.  This error can happen for many reasons, but as teachers, we should not consider our district Gmail accounts as permanent.  If you ever switch jobs, then all of your files may not switch with you unless you share them using SharingTree!

Google “Page not found” error message

You can also go SharingTree.net Account section (☰) and Get/Open any of the content you have opened, purchased, or published.  I find it faster to go to SharingTree to locate my final version of shared files than my personal Google Drive. Publishers can also revise their shared content to an updated version at any time.

Go to Account to Opened/Purchased or Published leaves and groups

Once you are in Account -> Leaves -> Purchased you can see all leaves you have opened or purchased and ‘View‘ or ‘Get the leaf‘ again.

7-8. And here is where SharingTree really differentiates itself from Google or any other lesson sharing site.  

Once you share your original content in a format that can be remixed, other users can COLLABORATE on that content and share their modified version on SharingTree.net. We have two FAQ articles titled ‘What is a Collab?’ and ‘Publishing Content: Copyrighted, Collaborative or Creative Commons?’ that discuss collabs. I’ll give a quick overview below.

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Google Drive

Nope.

SharingTree

These services are only provided by SharingTree.net for FREE content with a ‘remix’ license type. Remix licenses include SharingTree’s ‘Collaborative’ license (like a CC-BY-NC-SA but with redistribution through SharingTree.net only) and Creative Commons licenses without ND (no derivatives).  

Examples of a ‘Collab’ could be a user translating the original file to a different language, adapting the content from secondary to elementary, or switching the format from Google Docs to Slides or Forms. We hope we have piqued your interest and try ‘Add a leaf’ or  ‘Add a collab’ today!

9. Allow PAID($) content sharing for copyrighted content  

This option could be a game changer if you want to share PAID content you create. You can share individual files as Leaves or collections of files as a Group. Both options allow users to pay for the content using Paypal or Venmo (mobile only) and then have the files added directly to their Google Drive. PAID content must be copyrighted and “remixing” using Collabs is not allowed.

If you have any questions about sharing or collaborating using SharingTree just let us know at contact@sharingtree.net.

Links to related FAQ Articles

What is a Collab?

Collabs are free content (Leaves) published under a copyright option that allows others to “remix” and publish a modified version of the original file. This article focuses on the WHY behind collabs and then how SharingTree supports collaborations on remixable content.

As teachers, Eddie and I spent a lot of time developing custom G Suite lessons for our students alone. As we talked, we realized we wanted to build a community where teachers from around the world could collaborate and not have to create content by themselves. One day we drew out a tree diagram, like the one shown below, to model the sharing of lessons, and this image led to the name SharingTree. It is also why we call published content ‘leaves’.

Tree Diagram showing sharing of remixed content and our Original SharingTree Logo

When you publish a lesson using a remix license, you are allowing others to collaborate and share their version with our community. SharingTree will always provide the ability to charge for copyrighted content, but we also want to provide tools to make collaborating on lessons with teachers from around the world possible. The next part of this article shows how we enable collaborations on SharingTree.

How do I find remixable content?

You can search for remixable leaves using the ‘Collab’ option on the right toolbar. Anytime you ‘Open’ a free leaf on SharingTree and notice it has a ‘Collabs’ button next to it, then the leaf can be remixed.

Right search bar with “Collab” option selected to find remixable leaves
Collabs” button shows on all remixable leaves

How do I add a remixed lesson?

Clicking the ‘Collabs‘ button will take you to the bottom page where other Collab leaves based on the original are shown. Here you also have the option to add your own remix using the ‘Add a Collab‘ button.

When you click the ‘Add a Collab‘ button, you select a file from your Google Drive or Device to publish just like ‘Add a Leaf‘. The file you publish should relate to the original (extension, different format, modified grade level, etc.) and it will inherit the same copyright options. Using ‘Add a Collab‘ links your new remix to the original in the Collab section of both leaves. Your new Collab will be marked with a yellow ‘Collab‘ label to distinguish it from the original with a green ‘Leaf’ label.

Video showing linking between Original Leaf and Leaf publish using “Add a Collab”

Try ‘Add a Leaf‘ or ‘Add a Collab‘ today. We are excited to build this community with you.

How do I make a Group?

A group is a collection of leaves (published files), and it can also include YouTube videos and images with or without links. Users can open/purchase all the content in a Group in one click, and SharingTree makes a folder in their Google Drive with all the content for that Group.

To make a Group open the left account toolbar using the three bars icon (☰), then navigate to Groups -> Published.

Going to Accounts (☰) then Groups -> Published

Once here, you can make a new group or update any published groups.

Click the ‘+’ to make a New Group

You start by selecting a Group name. Hyphens are the only special character allowed. This name will also be part of the URL for the group.

Make a Group options

Next, you can select any published leaves to include in the Group, add a Youtube video, and any images with or without a URL link.

Lastly, you will identify a resource type, short description, optional long description, and a price ($0 for free) for the Group and click Save.

An example group to view is Kelly Hilton’s The First Days of School. This group contains resources from her ebook by the same title. When a user Opens/Purchases a Group, all the leaves (files) are added directly to their Google Drive in a folder with the Group name, and an additional spreadsheet called Other Content shows links to all additional resources.

Group transferred to user’s Google Drive

Let us know how our Group feature works for you and if you have any suggestions to improve it. Try publishing your first Leaf or Group today.

The best ways to share content in your Google Drive

G suite is my go-to for creating content, but you may have noticed it is more challenging to publicly share it. Google Drive lets you make a file publicly viewable (see this article for more details) and then each viewer must “Make a copy” to use it as shown below.

This option has its limitations. Sharing one document at a time is slow, and even if you share a folder, the user must still make a copy of each file to edit it. The good news is SharingTree and Teachers Pay Teachers have recently added the option to add shared files directly to your Google Drive. This article will cover the similarities and differences in these services.

SharingTree and TPT both request permission to access your Google Drive as shown below.

TPT is requesting to See and download all of your Google Drive files, and SharingTree asks to See, edit, create, and delete all of your Google Drive files. Both of these sound intrusive and need an explanation. Google requires a company that interacts with your Google Drive to request the highest level of access they will ever need. Both companies only use these privileges to add files directly to your Google Drive, but to accomplish this, they need to request this level of access. Hopefully, Google will improve its wording, but for now, take a deep breath and click the “Allow” button. If you are like me, you may want to use a Gmail account that only connects to services like these. Once the files are in this Google Drive account, you can easily share them with your regular Gmail account and breathe a little easier.

Publishing Content

Next, we will compare what files you can publish using SharingTree and TPT.

Currently, TPT only supports G Suite files (docs, sheets, forms, and slides) while SharingTree lets you publish ANYTHING in your Google Drive. Anything means all G Suite files but also Microsoft, PDF, Images and Video files. TPT does support a limited version of Folders (only G Suite and PDF files), and SharingTree enables you to build groups from your published content. The other difference is TPT requires published content to stay in your Google Drive while SharingTree does not.

Once you have selected the file from your Google Drive lets look at HOW these services allow it to be published.

Publishing Options

Both services support the standard FREE and for $ copyrighted content format. Also, SharingTree allows donations to any free content, and they support publishing using a Collaborative license that allows remixing and uploading using SharingTree as well as all Creative Commons licensing options for FREE content.

Lastly, let’s look at the payout rates on sales. TPT has two levels as shown below.

SharingTree has additional levels based on the number of published documents or shares but no fees. The initial tier payout rate for SharingTree is 75% vs 55% for TPT with lower transaction fees as well for publishers.

It is exciting to see platforms embrace Google Drive and eliminate the hassle of uploading and downloading files. We will update this article as more services provide Google Drive integration, and we would like to hear from you. SharingTree was started by two teachers who believe in the future of Google Drive, and our goal is to provide the best integration available. Try adding something today

How to allow others to “REMIX” your content

We call published content Leaves on SharingTree. All content published in SharingTree as Collaborative or most Creative Commons licenses can be “remixed” and become part of a COLLABORATION. Collabs allows other users to share their modified version of an original LEAF back to SharingTree using the “Add a Collab” option.

Collaborations receive the permissions of the original LEAF and SharingTree handles all appropriate attributions. Collaborations can modify the original content or extend the original to different formats (Docs, Slides, Sheets, videos, etc).

If you want to publish your content so others can remix it, then select “Collaborative” or “Creative Commons” in the “Add a Leaf” dialog box shown below.

License types

The Collaborative license allows for Remixing and Share-Alike only on SharingTree while selecting Creative Commons brings up options based on a combination of Requiring Attribution (BY), Share-Alike (SA), Prohibiting Commercial Use (NC) and No Derivatives (ND). Below is a table that compares the different Creative Commons and Copyrighted (©) licenses.

 CC BY Aaron McCollough (adapted from a table by Anita Walz)
https://publishing.gmu.edu/communication/copyright/creative-commons-2/

If you are unfamiliar with these licenses, you can learn more from the Creative Commons website. Public Domain (PD) is the least restrictive and does not limit how the original content is adapted or redistributed. From the list above, we see that Public Domain (PD), Creative Commons Zero (Ø), CC-BYCC-BY-SACC-BY-NC, and CC-BY-NC-SA allow adapting/remixing and can be part of a collaboration. Any license with ND (No Derivatives) cannot be part of a collaboration or remixed. Copyrighted material is the most restrictive and cannot be adapted or redistributed except by the author.

To support others remixing your content SharingTree recommends publishing under our Collaborative license or using the CC-BY-NC-SA option. Only traditional Copyrighted(©) content can have a PRICE while Collaborative and all Creative Commons content must be FREE. We look forward to building this community with you. Head over to SharingTree and try publishing your first leaf or Add a Collab today!

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