Up my Google Docs skills, please?
June 11, 2013 8:40 PM   Subscribe

I'm teaching a basic accounting class in a local university this coming semester and would like to integrate more technology into the class so as to foster student learning. I'm trying out a (somewhat) flipped approach to teaching this semester, and am looking to several Google services in doing so. A lot of this is going to be experimental, as this is my first time to do this. So, on a more general level, I'd appreciate any tips/secrets/best practices you can share with me about using Google Forms, Google Spreadsheets, or Google Sites (whether you think it's relevant to a classroom setting or not). Under the fold, two more (specific) questions about Forms and Spreadsheets.

1. I'm planning to use Google Forms for giving students online quizzes. One concern is that I want students to take the quiz by X day of the week, so I want to be able to either

A) have Google tell me when the response came in (as opposed to having the student fill in a question that goes something like "What's the date today/time now?"), or

B) have Google automatically stop accepting responses by X time of a certain day. Is there any way to do this without having to learn programming? (I don't mind learning programming, but time constraints and all...)

2. I want the students to be able to access their grades on any given time, but I don't want them to see their classmates' grades. Is there any way to limit access of each user on a Google Spreadsheet without having to create 30+ individual pages/spreadsheets?
posted by bigasthesky to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Before you reinvent the wheel, check with your university to see if they already have some sort of software/platform for you to use. For example, many colleges and universities in the US use Blackboard for exactly the sort of thing you describe: timed quizzes with an automatic expiration, access to individual grades, course content, etc.

Specific to accounting - I know some of the accounting textbook publishers offer an online component with quizzes and such. Might be worth looking into that.

I bring this up because I am always surprised at how frequently fairly young and tech-savvy faculty and instructors continue to do things manually when it's simply not necessary. But of course maybe the purpose is to get the students familiar with Google's services.
posted by stowaway at 9:14 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I would absolutely check to see what your university has available in terms of course management software. I use ANGEL (now owned by BLACKBOARD) to enter grades, take attendance, collect & redistribute papers, set up course wikis, and so forth.
posted by thomas j wise at 10:51 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Google doc Forms already does A and B (sorta) that you are requesting.

It's not intuitive, and Google doesn't outline that the Forms do this exactly. But once you make a form and send it out - no longer editable- your form, on Google docs/drive is now just a log of incoming responses with a time stamp. (in the updated version I think you just click on responses to see this log)

I just checked Google Forms and it looks like the way to make them has been updated.
I think you not manually have to un-check "Accepting Responses" to close the form.

There are also ways to get fancy with this. Just search "Steps to Creating a Self-Grading Quiz with Google Docs"

I prefer Google docs to some of the more bulky systems I used in college like blackboard. I currently teach (middle/high school) and use Google docs with my students. Blackboard, as a student, was very frustrating and would glitch on occasion.

But that is no reason not to check out which ever system your school uses to see if it fits your needs.
posted by mariecheri at 11:04 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just got done using Google stuff for a big distributed project. My experience was that folks not using the Chrome browser had a lot of trouble. This did not please me.
posted by OmieWise at 3:02 AM on June 12, 2013

mariecheri has it in terms of A & B - time stamps and manually unchecking the "Accepting Responses".

You may want to check out the scripts in Google Forms as well. When you're in the Spreadsheet side of your form (after you've created your form), under "Insert" are quite a few scripts to run & play with the functionality of Forms. I've used a self-grading script called "Flubaroo" for quick formative assessments. I know that there's a gradebook script called "Doctopus", as well, which may answer your question 2., but I haven't tried it. In my experience, the teachers that use Google Drive in their classroom already have gradebooks set up elsewhere.

I really like Google Drive, for the collaborative and cloud functions. Good luck with your class!
posted by ceramicblue at 5:27 AM on June 12, 2013

I am the moderator of the #flipclass chat on Twitter, and I can hook you up with LOTS of people who are doing what you're doing and can help you do it better. Find me on Twitter - same handle as Mefi. If you're considering moving to a more technical class set-up and/or flipping, you should be on Twitter. There's an amazing community there.

But here's the secret that I use to have students create documents: Google scripts. I use AutoCrat, but Flubaroo is great for doing just what you describe - sending students their answers automatically. Even if you're not terribly technical, you can still set it up pretty easily. Here's a guide for setting up AutoCrat. The way I use it is through an embedded form in my course website. Students submit the form and the script creates a document based on a template (meaning it puts a heading and standard title on the document according to what's entered on the form) and then automatically emails and shares it with the student, and automatically organises it in my google drive. It sounds complicated, but it's pretty magic.

If you want help with any of this, I'm happy to walk you through it on Google Hangout. And I promise you, Google Drive will make your class work so much better. I was nearly paperless and fully flipped this year, and it was the best year yet.
posted by guster4lovers at 4:44 PM on June 12, 2013

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