So, REC Foundation is promoting using a Google doc for online notebooks. Here’s a shot from the new judge’s guide. If you have time this weekend, it’s a great read!


So, “validated revision history…” The problem with Google Docs is that to see that history you need to be an editor of the document, and even then by the end of the season it’s very hard for judges to use the timestamps to verify what was written when.

RECF is endorsing a template that really shouldn’t get the 5 points.

We used EDEN last year and it is great at maintaining the timestamps. The other way that I really liked was to use a written notebook and immediately upload the pages to a google Drive folder with a quick photo. You could easily match the date of the file with the date on the page. (The link provided would be a link to the Google Drive Folder.)

And there’s always no way to really have a “validated revision history” in a written notebook but it’s pretty hard to fake and I doubt many do. If you haven’t worked on your notebook all year you aren’t going to just write 2 months of notes in the couple of days before the tournament. There are certain tells even when this is done “well.” Some of these tells are NOT visible in a digital notebook… Like using the same pen for seemingly 6 weeks in a row!

As always, I’m probably overthinking it, as I tend to do. How should judges enforce the “validated revision history” bit and decide who should get the 5 points? If the level of validation is simply seeing the date then I’m not sure why it’s given 5 points, which is 5% of the overall value of the rubric.

FYI, the Judging Q&A is not open yet for this year.


I think this is an overstatement. I was at the RECF Summit and what happened was that Bob Mimlitch (IFI/VEX) demoed a Google Slides template and toolkit for Digital Engineering Notebooks that they are creating and will offer to teams to use free of charge. It looks awesome and I think is a great option. It is a beta version right now and they are seeking input.

My opinion, they should give teams the benefit of the doubt (which is also what I believe will happen). If teams have a table of contents with dates and dates on entries, it will meet the criteria. Will teams be able to “fake it”? Yeah, probably. But that doesn’t mean most teams will or that the job of the judges is to ferret out those that actually put in entries throughout the season vs. those that added a bunch of entries and pretended for them to be throughout the season.

It is important to remember that there is no award in VEX competions for the best notebook. The notebook is a tool for students to use to provide evidence of their design process throughout the season. Judges also conduct interviews with teams to examine that process.

I really appreciated Bob Mimlitch’s comments and perspective when he shared the digital notebook template. He shared his experience and workflow as an engineer and using a digital notebook for years.

Here is a plugin that allows for easily adding times and dates into Google Slides: https://workspace.google.com/marketplace/app/add_a_date/243436428048

I haven’t tried it, but it might be a good option that makes it easy to add timestamps.


I would agree with you. But why make it worth the points then? This is the only section of the rubric like that. Every other part of the rubric isn’t 5 or zero, and the judges can make good judgements based on the information in front of them (in dealing with the first page).

I just tried it and got this:

If students are using their school board email (like we do my county), I don’t know if they would be allowed to do this. I teach mostly middle school students, many of which don’t use their personal email and if they do I really don’t want to know it or require them to share it with their teammates.

Does it just add the date to a slide when you edit it? I could probably write a script to do that. I don’t think you would get “This app is blocked”, but you would get “Google hasn’t verified this app”. The infamous school IT people probably wouldn’t allow that, either, so, … Sorry.

I did find that Evernote has forced timestamps for notes, which means if you made a note for every day, you could prove that you hadn’t edited it. I don’t know about sharing and haven’t tried printing, but that might be a possibility.

Also note that the judging rubric says, “validated revision history generated by digital collaboration platforms.” Google Docs does not have this. Even the revision history items are just titled with the date by default, and you can change the titles. A determined student would simply add one entry, wait a while, add another, etc, so that each entry gets one “version”, and then go and change all the names.