The Revision History is one of Google Docs' most powerful and also under-used features. In fact, we've covered some of the ways to use the Revision History in GSuite in the past. One of my personal issues with Revision History, though, is that it sometimes feels like a firehose of information. Sure, you can go back in time and see who made which changes to a document, but it's difficult to draw broad conclusions from looking over pages and pages of revisions. Sure, knowing the history of each individual edits and editors is super-helpful, but maybe you really want answers to broader questions. "Which student did most of the typing in this group assignment?" "I really like this job description, who wrote most of it?"
Enter a Google Docs Add-On: Revision History Analytics. This useful tool can create a summary of changes to a Google Doc, showing exactly how many words/edits/changes were made by each contributor. In this article, I'm going to show you how it works.
Installing and Using Revision History Analytics
1. Open a Google Doc. Go to the "Add-Ons" menu, and select "Get add-ons..."
2. Do a search for "Revision History Analytics" and you should see the add-on below. Click on the blue +Free button to install it. You may need to enable pop-up windows in Chrome (look for an error in the URL bar) for the Add-On. As with many other Google Docs add-ons, it will need access to your files in order to access your revision history.
3. Now Revision History Analytics will be added to your Add-ons menu. To use it, hover over Revision History Analytics in the Add-ons menu, then click on "View dashboard".
4. Revision History Analytics will now add a sidebar to the right side of your Docs window, where you can scroll up and down to view statistics about how each editor contributed to the document:
5. The Total Words pane has an added feature, where you can click on the small [+] icon next to an individual's name to view their individual contributions to the document. Added text will be displayed in blue, while deleted text shows up in yellow:
Using Revision History Analytics
As you can see, Revision History Analytics can give you detailed information about how individual editors collaborated on a Google Doc (by the way, this add-on only works for Docs, not Slides or Sheets). This could be useful to teachers in evaluating student contributions to a group assignment, or in looking how an Instructor and AmeriCorps intern collaborated on a lesson plan.
It's important to remember that Revision History Analytics can only measure how much each collaborator typed on the assignment; it doesn't measure actual collaboration. For instance, if Student A does all of the typing when writing up the Results section of a research project, Revision History Analytics won't be able to tell you that Students B and C were in the room dictating sentences to that Student. If you look at the stats I used from my sample document (a draft of the TSS Electronic Resources Policies), you might conclude that Reid did most of the work on this document, but this isn't actually true. Mani, Scott, and Reid were all in the room together when most of these edits were made. Reid did most of the typing, but everyone in the room was adding input and suggesting revisions and changes.
So, take care in using Revision History Analytics to measure individual input into a group project. It can give you some idea of who did what, but it doesn't measure everything.
Note: I first learned about Revision History Analytics from the Check This Out Podcast. You can check out the show notes from this episode, which contain a whole bunch more recommended Google tools that the hosts discussed.