Friday, September 20, 2013

Manage non-Google Assignments in Teacher Dashboard


Yesterday, while cruising up I-57 back from the University of Illinois in Champaign after presenting at the AdvancEd conference, Jason Markey (@JasonMMarkey) started up a conversation that began with his now famous "I have an idea..."  In this case, it was more like "I really wish..."  Basically, we were talking about how well Teacher Dashboard has been working for us at Leyden and Jason was suggesting how great it would be if our teachers could also manage assignments involving non-Google Apps tools in TD.  I reminded him about my digital dropbox idea which uses a single Google Form to collect the URL's of each non-Google project.  While he agreed that method was working for some teachers, it still required them to leave Teacher Dashboard and did not provide an easy method for providing the students with feedback without utilizing some scripts.  After a little brainstorming, here's an idea I came up with.

  • Teachers could create a Google Doc template (text or spreadsheet) for an activity/project/assignment that involves a tool other than Google Docs or Blogger, which are currently managed in Teacher Dashboard (i.e. Glogster, VoiceThread, Themeefy, YouTube, WeVideo, etc.).  By the way, I'm a huge proponent for assigning an objective to students and letting them pick their own way of demonstrating their learning (see Student Choice Leads to Creativity).
  • The template should include at least a spot for the students to paste in the URL of their products, but could also include things like a rubric, project check list, reference list, etc.
  • Teachers would then use the Smart Copy tool in Teacher Dashboard to push out the template to each student.  This automatically creates an individual copy of the template in each students' appropriate subject folder in their Google Drive with edit rights for the teacher.  And, of course, the teacher gets to control the name of these documents.
  • Teachers can then use the filter option when viewing their class in Teacher Dashboard to view just the links to each specific activity/project/assignment document.  By opening each document, the teacher would be able to see the link to the student's product, add notes or comments, possibly add grades, check off items in a check list, and other options for interacting with the student throughout the process of the activity/project/assignment.

I'd be very interested to hear from anyone that tries out this idea to learn how it works for you and/or how it can be improved.