Saturday, September 14, 2013

(Google) Scripts for Success

For teachers who desire the ultimate in productivity, it's hard to beat Google Scripts.  Scripts automate other dull tasks.  But honestly, scripts scare me a little.  There are always several steps.  They're not pretty.  If you have never tried Google Scripts, read on.  Once you start using them, you'll wonder how you ever lived without. Thank you to gurus of Google Scripts (like Andrew Stillman and Jennie Magiera) for helping the rest of us harness the power of scripts in education.
The messiest desk in the world
Is this how your Google Drive looks?
Teachers who start using Google apps with students quickly realize that management of student work can become a nightmare. Misnamed documents and incorrectly shared files can make your brain and your Google Drive a mess.  The Doctopus script is a perfect fix for this.  Instead of each students creating his/her own document, naming it, and sharing it to specific people, the teacher creates one master document.  Then, Doctopus copies it to each student's own Google account, naming it the way the teacher prefers, and sets the sharing.  The teacher is left with a spreadsheet that links to every student's document.  I'm sure this is great for all grade levels, but when you work with elementary students, this is a godsend.

To use Doctopus, you need two things:

1.  A master copy of the document that each student will use.  Create a folder in your Drive just for this assignment and place your master copy in that folder.  You can also have the student work automatically placed in this same folder later, or have Doctopus create a new folder for incoming work.

2.  A simple spreadsheet with at least the student names and the Google account of each student in two columns (it's ok if your school doesn't use Gmail for students - Doctopus will put the document directly into a student's Google Drive).

In the spreadsheet from step 2, click "Add-ons" and choose "Get add-on".  Search for Doctopus.  With the new Google Sheets, you only have to add it once, and it will be available in the "Add-ons" dropdown for all of your Sheets.  Doctopus will walk you through the process when you click on it each time.

You will be led through several steps asking for sharing settings (i.e., can students view each other's documents or not, editing and commenting rights, etc) and where you want the completed work to go in your own Drive (the folder from step 3).  When you complete all steps, every student will have a copy of the document in his/her own Drive and the teacher is left with editing rights to all student files and an easy way to access every file.  No messy Google Drive or lost/incorrectly shared files.  If you want students to work in groups, add a "Group" column to your spreadsheet, and Doctopus can set sharing settings based on groupings as well.

For those of you who have never used Google scripts, give this a try.  The 5 minutes you spend setting it up will save you way more than that in precious time.

No comments:

Post a Comment