Google facilitated the Education On Air Conference, a virtual conference for educators focused on and around Google Apps for Education, featuring their master teachers. I sat in on a few sessions – Managing Digital Portfolios w/ Google Tools from Kern Kelley, and The Paperless Classroom with Google Docs from Eric Curts. Both sessions were great, and both spelled out and reinforced a vital process or workflow for teachers and students to easily and successfully use Google Docs for every day work, for group projects, and for digital portfolios.
I have a few teachers that have gone down this road of using Google Docs exclusively for student work, and their Docs/Drive inboxes have exploded with student work – and has been a struggle for them to manage. What I learned during this conference, and what I’ll share with you today has made their Google Docs lives easier, and will help make the lives of the teachers that will follow this path much easier from the start.
This session will assume that you are familiar with using Google Docs. If this is not the case, you may want to check out my presentation on Project Based Learning with Google Docs.
Here’s the bullet points for success, and then I’ll explain each in detail below:
- Digitize student work, and store it all in Google Drive
- Students create folders for their work, and share that folder with their teachers.
- Teachers create folders for documents to share with students
- Teachers create an ‘Assignment Hand-In’ Form for students to submit both information about the assignment as well as the link to the assignment.
With this workflow in place, it’s fast and seamless for students to turn in their work, and for teachers to manage and grade the mountain of student work.
Now, let’s see how it all works… Below is a presentation of the full description to implement the Google Drive Paperless Workflow. If you don’t have much time, you may be more interested in the Overview version.
Digitize Student Work
No matter what a student does, it needs to end up in a digital form, and then saved in their Google Drive space. All of your students will obviously need a Gmail account – either directly from Google or through a school/district Google Apps domain.
Digitization is a breeze for any sort of document, presentation or spreadsheet by working directly in Google Docs, but what about math homework or artwork? Enter the cell phone camera or a web-cam connected to an accessible computer! Students snap a photo of the work, and save that file in Google Drive. If it’s a skill in PE, acting in a play, or any other physical activity, capture a video and upload it to YouTube. Anyting that a student does can be quickly and easily digitized with the right tools.
With all of their work available in Google Drive, students will have a complete record of their own learning. Their best work can/should eventually end up in a Digital Portfolio, but let’s just stick with the Paperless Classroom workflow for now. Students create a folder for each of their subjects (which can be later organized by school year) with a standard naming scheme: Subject/Period – Last, First or something similar. Then, they share this folder with their teacher making sure to grant edit rights. Now, when it comes time to ‘hand in’ their homework, all they need to do is to drag the file/document in Google Drive from their ‘My Drive’ list to the appropriate class folder. Since the folder is shared, the file is automatically shared with the teacher!
One quick tip to make this easier for students… When creating a new document for class, train your students to head to Google Drive, and then to their class folder prior to creating a new document, sheet or presentation. Once they are viewing their class folder, NOW click the big red ‘Create’ button. Once they choose the type of document to create, they’ll get a message asking them to ‘Create and Share’ this document following the sharing rules for the folder – which is EXACTLY what you and they want!
On the teacher’s end, they can organize these shared folders in Google Drive however they’d like – by school year, subject, or period. Just create a folder, and drag the shared student folders into it. Here’s the great part – since you used a folder naming convention, your folder is all automatically organized alphabetically by the subject or student name. No more long, long, long list of student work!
Obviously, teachers often need to hand out assignments or documents to students. To help make this instant and paperless, teachers should make two folders to share with their students.
The first is a ‘Hand Out’ folder with View Only rights. Here’s where you’ll put documents and/or assignment templates for students to access and view – and you don’t need to share it with EVERY student EVERY time. If it’s an assignment template, the students can use ‘File –> Save a copy’ to save the assignment outline to their own Google Drive to edit. Make sure that if you do share a document this way that students rename it from ‘Copy of Assignment 1′ to ‘Last, First Assignment 1′ to make viewing/grading easier later.
The other folder is a folder that will contain editible documents for collaborative papers and presentations that you’d like all of your students to be able to access and edit. Share it with your students with their email addresses, and give full Edit rights. Now, any document that is in that folder, students will automatically have access to!
Assignment Hand-In Form
This last step is an extra step for your students, but it is the last piece to really making management and grading easy for teachers. Create a new Form in Google Drive with the following items:
- Class Period or Subject (You can make a new form for each class, or use a ‘choose from a list’ question type for this for all of your classes)
- Quarter/Semester (optional)
- Last Name
- First Name (If you teach elementary, you may want to add all of your students in a ‘choose from a list’ question type)
- Assignment Title/Name (should be a ‘choose from a list’ type to make sorting easier & reliable later on)
- Link/URL for the Assignment
Assignment link/URL? Students can publish their work with a copule of clicks so that anyone with the link can access the document. They do this by clicking on the big blue ‘Share’ button on the top right of every Google Doc type. The document will list ‘Private’ for access, and the student below as the owner. Click the ‘Change..’ link next to Private, and choose ‘Anyone with the link’ and save. This step is bypassed if the student shared class folder is in place, with the document in that folder, of course.
Students will still need to ‘turn in’ the assignment by adding it to their shared class/subject folder with you, so why you need the assignment link in this form? The form will allow you to sort the contents by any of the fields or questions asked, and the link will allow you to quickly access that assignment right in the form spreadsheet – without needing to go to each students folder, finding the correct assignment, and opening it up.
With the Assignment Hand-In spreadsheet, you can sort by name, assignment, class – whatever to group the work as you like, access the student’s work with a single click to make your comments or edits, close the assignment and instantly access the next one. You can even add in your own information in the cells to the right with notes, grades or scores – as long as you don’t add columns to the left or change the information gained from the form, you’ll be fine.
This form/spreadsheet brings this whole process and workflow together and wraps it with a bow.
Student Digital Portfolios
With all student work digitized, available and easily shared in Google Drive, the creation or showcase of a student’s best work is now a relatively simple task. Using free online tools such as Google Sites or WordPress, student can share and link to their very best work for this year and for the school years to come. This portfolio can not only serve as a showcase for students, parents, and teachers but could also be quite useful when students apply for a job or attempt to get into the college of their choosing. All of the hard work of collecting and organizing student work is done naturally in the process outlined above. All that is left is to identify the students best and linking to it on their own web site.
If all of that setup was a little too complicated for you, you should give gClassFolders a try. This is a script that you can use with a Google Spreadsheet of your students names, email addresses and the name of the class of yours they are in. Once you have the basic information listed, you just need to follow these instructions and the rest will be done auto-magically for you!
Again, I have to thank the fine folks who presented at the Google Education On Air Conference. Below are links to the resources and information that they shared with myself and the other conference attendees to help them both make Student Digital Portfolios something easy to accomplish and to get us to the promised land of the Paperless Classroom.
- Managing Digital Portfolios from Kern Kelley
- *Google Doc Management (YouTube Video) from Kern Kelley (must see)
- Digitize Student Work (YouTube Video) from Kern Kelley
- The Paperless Classroom with Google Docs (web site) from Eric Curts
- The Paperless Classroom with Google Docs (Google Document) from Eric Curts
- The Paperless Classroom with Google Docs (Google Presentation) from Eric Curts
- Google Docs/Drive – Paperless Setup for Students (YouTube)
- How to gather student/parent email address and add them as Gmail Contact Groups
- Some Google Spreadsheet scripts to automate the process. NOTE: These are advanced features, and do require some work and setup