Google Glass in Education


You may not haven heard much about Google Glass, but that is about to change. Google first announced the product in June of 2012 at their developer conference, Google I/O.  Google took an interesting approach to building demand for the product.  Instead of listing off all the internally developed planned features and uses, they allowed attendees (like myself, #1511) to sign up to be part of the “Glass Explorers” program.  They have recently expanded this group to include other users via their #ifihadglass campaign.  Their plan is to put the device in the hands of users and developers, and let the need and potential uses for the device to grow organically.  The Glass Explorer Edition has yet to be made available to the group members.  However, with Google I/O ’13 (hope to see you there!) coming up in a few weeks, I’d expect that delivery of the devices may be right around the corner.

Looking to discuss potential uses for Glass, I came across and joined the Google Glass Explorers community on Google+.  It is great to connect with such a diverse group, but what I really want to do is talk about Glass with other educators.  I know there are others like me, so I did what any good nerd would do, created a new community – Google Glass in Education.


If you are in the education sector and want to talk about Glass, I’d love for you to join us there – just click the image above.  If you just want to know more about Glass, I’d suggest starting with this great write-up Joshua Topolsky (@joshuatopolsky) of The Verge did a while back.

QR Codes for Beginners

QR Codes are everywhere these days.  You may not know what they are, but I’d bet you’ve seen them in one form of advertising or another.  They look like this:


When scanned by a code reader app, this QR code will take you to my website.  As more and more technology becomes available to students, QR Codes can be a really handy tool for educators.  I’ve found that most teachers are aware of the existence of QR codes, however very few of them understand what they are, how they work, or how easily they can leverage their power.  In this post, I’ll show you just how easy it is to use QR codes to connect with your students.

What is a QR Code?

QR stands for “Quick Response”.  They are essentially 2D barcodes.  Originally designed to be used in the manufacturing industry, they have become popular with advertising firms to connect their potential customers to online content.  You’ll frequently see QR codes captioned with statements like “Scan to find out more…”.

For your purposes as an educator, what you need to know about them is very minimal.  When you see a QR code, essentially what has happened is that someone has used a utility to encode some (usually alphanumeric) data into an image using a common standard.  That image is a QR code.  In my example above, the text that is encoded in that image is “”.

So how do you read them?

There are software applications available on smartphones and tablets, commonly known as “QR Code Readers”.  These applications essentially perform the opposite function of the encoding utility I mentioned in the previous section.  These applications can read the image using the camera on the device, decode the data using that same common standard, and return it to its original form.  There are many of these applications available for iOS and Android devices, just search the App or Play store (respectively).

As in my example above, QR codes are most commonly used to encode web addresses (URLs).  When a QR code containing a URL is scanned, QR code reading applications will direct the browser on the device they are scanned from to that URL.  Pretty simple right?

And how is that useful?

Today’s students are completely immersed in technology.  They are connected to their smartphones in a way that older generations sometimes find difficult to relate to.  By using QR codes to direct your students to websites, you are presenting them information in a way that is convenient and relevant to them.  QR codes work because they lower the barrier to entry.  They can be directed to exactly where you want them to go without typing a URL, then navigating to your “home page”, then clicking one of your links.

So how do I make one?

The beauty of this is how dead simple it is to implement. I’ve included a 1 minute video below that shows how I made the QR code above.  I use Google Chrome as my browser of choice.  One of the awesome features of Chrome is your ability to use apps form the Chrome Web Store.  I used the QR Creator application to make my code, however there are several options available for generating QR codes.  Happy coding!

Adding Images to Google Forms

Embedding images into forms is a feature that would really enhance the power of Google Forms.  Unfortunately, Google has yet (as of 3/1/2013) to include this feature.  James Eichmiller created a script that allows users to embed images stored in Google Drive into their Google forms very easily however.  Instructions can be found here.

Embedded below is a video made by Bryan Weinert that shows the script in action.  He uses it for inserting exported graphic versions of equations made with Daum Equation Editor.*

* If you teach Math, check out the Daum Equation Editor app available in the Chrome Web Store.

Keep Your Classes Organized With Google Groups

Google Groups is an integral part of the Google Apps For Education Suite. Groups are most commonly used as a mailing list for sending emails to multiple users, but can also be utilized to create web-based forums or to facilitate Q&A sessions between a specific group of users.

In this post, I’ll be outlining how to use Google Groups to create a mailing-list style group that will allow you both send email and assign access in Google Drive using a single email address.

I’ve created a brief instructional video that outlines the process that is explained in detail below.  I’d suggest watching it before diving into the details.

Remember those details I mentioned?  Here they are…

Section 1: Create a Group

  1. Go to
  2. If you aren’t signed in to Google already (your email address will show up near the top right corner), sign in.
  3. Click Groups on the black navigation bar (across the top of the page).
  4. Click the red CREATE GROUP button to create a new group.
  5. Give your group a name.
    1. Names should be granular enough to accurately specify the audience.
    2. Group names must be unique within the organization, so you’ll  need to put some thought into the name.  In our organization there are 4 high schools.  Calling the group “1st Period Art” wouldn’t be specific enough; that name could easily apply to a class at each of the 4 different buildings within the organization.
    3. While blank spaces are allowed in the “Group name” field, they will be replaced by dashes in the “Group email address”.  I’d suggest using dashes or underscores to separate items in your group name, allowing the group name and email prefix to be identical.
    4. For this example, I’ll be making a group containing all the students for my 1st period Biology class at Cary-Grove High School.  I’m going to use “CG-Blatti-1st for my group name.  It is easily identifiable as my 1st period class.  You’ll notice that I didn’t use “Biology” as part of the name.  Because I teach different classes, I may not be teaching Biology during 1st period next semester.  With the name I chose, I’ll be able to reuse this group with my 1st period class next semester regardless of which subject I’m teaching.
  6. The “Group email address” will be automatically populated based on the group name that I provided.  Make a mental note of this address; it is what you’ll be using to send emails and apply rights in Google Drive later on.
  7. In this example, I’m creating a mailing list that will only be used by myself as the teacher.  We can leave the group description blank; it isn’t needed for this model.
  8. Set the group’s primary language.
  9. “Group type” should be set to the default, “Email list”.  To learn about the other options available, click here.
  10. In the “Basic permissions” section, you’ll find three drop-down boxes.
    1. “View Topics” – This specifies who is able to view topics in the group.  Because I am setting up communication between myself (the teacher) and the list members (a specific set of students), I’ll uncheck “All organization members”.  You’ll notice that to the right of the drop-down is a check-mark  followed by “All members of the group”.  This is an overall summary of who has access.
    2. “Post” – because I’m creating one-way communication to my students, I should be the only user with the ability to post.  I’ll uncheck all options except for “Owners of the group”, which in this case is just me.
    3. “Join the Group” – Since this group will be a static set of known individuals, I’ll set this to “Only invited users”.
      googlegroup10cFor complete details on basic permissions, click here.
  11. Double-check all of your settings.  If everything looks good, click the CREATE button at the top of the screen.
  12. Assuming everything went well during the creation process, you’ll receive a confirmation message that the group has been created.
  13. Click the My groups link in the left column to return to your groups list.

Section 2: Invite Members to the Group

Now that my group has been created, it is time to add members to the group.  If you have been following along, you should currently be viewing the “My groups” page, listing your newly created group (as well as any other groups you own or are a member of).  If you’d like to access this list (and manage your groups) at another time, just go to (or click the Groups link on the black bar), then click the “My groups” link in the left column (as seen below).

star_smallTip: If you already have the email addresses corresponding to the students in your class in a comma delimited email list (see my previous post on exporting rosters from Skyward),  you could just paste that information into the “Enter email addresses of people to invite” text field instead of adding the members individually as instructed below.

  1. In the right column, Click the link matching the name of the group you’d like to work with.  For my example, I’ll click CG-Blatti-1st.
  2. Click the Manage button near the top right corner.
  3. Click the Invite members link in the left column.
  4. Click in the “Enter email addresses of people to invite” text field and begin typing the name or email address of a user you’d like to add to the group.  You can either click his or her name when it appears in the displayed list, or continue to type until there is only one name in the list, then press the Tab or Enter on the keyboard to add that name to the list.
  5. Repeat the previous step until all users that you would like to invite are listed.
  6. An invitation message is required, so type an applicable message in the “Write an invitation message” text field.
  7. Click Send invites to invite the listed users to the group.

Invitees will receive an email that looks similar to the one below.
They will need to click the accept link in the email to join the group.  I’d suggest informing the members that they will be receiving this email and what to do with it (click the accept link) before sending the invitations.  After clicking the accept link, the members will receive a confirmation message, similar to the one seen below. (sidenote: Google – please fix the CSS for this page, seriously.)
As the group owner, you can see and manage a list of all the group members and their roles at any time by clicking All members from the left column of the groups interface. Now that we’ve done all the setup legwork, now let’s discuss the easy part – using it.

Section 3: Email the Group

When I created the group above (section 1, step 6), an email address was automatically generated and assigned to the group.  In my example, that address was “”.  Simply send an email to the group email address, and the email will be delivered to all the members of the group.  You should be able to use Gmail or any other email client (in my case, Outlook).  I previously setup the group so that only the group owner (myself) has the ability to email the group; only email sent from my account will be delivered to the group.

Section 4: Assign Access to the Group for Items in Google Drive

Assigning access to folders or individual items in Google Drive is just as easy.

  1. Open Google Drive in your web browser (, or click the Drive link in the black bar at the top.
  2. Right-click the item or folder you want to share, hover over the Share… menu with your cursor, then left-click Share… from the resulting contextual sub-menu.
  3. Click in the Add people text field, then begin typing the group name or email address.
  4. Click on the desired group when it appears, or continue to type until it is the only option in the list, then hit the enter (or tab) key on the keyboard.
  5. Select the appropriate permission level by clicking the Can edit link to the right of the the group name.
  6. Apply your desired notification options, then click the Share & save button to complete the action.

Section 5: Manage the Group

You can access and manage all of your groups at any time from the Groups web page.

  1. Open Google Groups in your web browser (, or click the Groups link in the top black bar from any other Google page.
  2. Click My groups, then in the right column, click the link to the group you’d like to manage.
  3. Click the manage button, then the applicable section in the left column.

You can change settings, permissions, and manage membership from this single location.  Detailed information about all of the management options is available on Google’s Groups support page.

If you have any questions or comments about this post, please leave a reply below.

Exporting Class Rosters from Skyward for Use With Outlook and Google

Several people have inquired about the ability to export their class rosters from Skyward in order to:

  • create distribution lists in Outlook for emailing their students
  • apply rights to files and folders with Google Drive

In this guide, I’ll show you how to export a class roster and convert student email addresses from that roster into copy-and-paste friendly lists for both Google Apps and Microsoft Outlook.

star_smallWhile this guide outlines specific processes for manipulating class roster data exported from Skyward, the ability to take text and reformat it to suit your needs is the core skill you should take away from this.  That ability is useful in many scenarios outside the scope of this guide.

Exporting a Class Roster from Skyward

  1. Log into Skyward (D155 users, go to
  2. Open your gradebook (below, left), then click the Gradebook link that corresponds to the class you want a roster for (below, right).  In this example, I’ll select the link corresponding to my 1st period Biology class.
  3. Click the Reports menu, then click Class Roster (as seen below).
  4. Select template “900 Student Name & Student Info” then click the Export to Excel button (as seen below).
  5. The report will be queued by the server.  Once the report is completed, click Display Report (below, left). This will download an Excel file containing the data to your default download location (usually your desktop or your “Downloads folder”). The file will have a seemingly random alphanumeric string for a name (in my example “SKR9098944U7R8N9Y1181434”, below, right)
  6. Open up the Excel file by double-clicking it.  You may be prompted with a dialog box informing you that the file you are trying to open is in a different format than specified by the file extension. If you get this error (as seen below), click Yes.
  7. Your roster data should now be open in Microsoft Excel (as seen below).
    1. Rows 1-2 contain information about the report.
    2. Rows 4-5 contain information about the class (teacher, course, section, room, etc.).
    3. Row 7 is the column header row, containing the titles for each of the columns of student data.
    4. Rows 8-n (depending on the number of students) contain columns of various student data (depending on the report template).
  8. At this point, I’d recommend saving the data in the standard Excel format, with a more applicable title than it has currently.  In this example I’m using Office 2012; the process in earlier versions should be very similar, but may vary slightly.
    1. Click File then click Save As (as seen below).
    2. Select an applicable save location (in my example I’m using the desktop) and give the file an appropriate name by typing it into the “File name” text box  (here I’m calling the file “Bio_Roster_P1”).
    3. Below the “File name” text box is a drop-down menu titled “Save as Type”.  The file you exported from Skyward will be in the “XML Spreadsheet 2003 (*.xml)” version.  Click this box and select Excel Woorkbook (*.xlsx) to save the file using the standard Excel file format (as seen below).
    4. Click Save to save the data in the new file name and type.
    5. Now that you have the data with the desired name and format, I’d suggest closing Excel and deleting the original file that you exported from Skyward (in this case “SKR9098944U7R8N9Y1181434.xls”).  This will avoid confusion later and eliminate duplicate data.

Creating “Copy-and-Paste” Student Lists

You have your class list in a spreadsheet.  This format is great for keeping the data organized, but if you want to send an email to or assign roles in Google Drive for your students, you’ll need a single line, delimited list of student email addresses.

Google uses comma delimited lists.  If your organization is fully immersed in Google Apps, a comma delimited list is all you’ll need.  If you are using Outlook for staff email however (as we are at District 155), you’ll also need to keep a semicolon delimited list (Outlook doesn’t recognize the comma as a separator).

There are several ways to convert this data.  I’d suggest using a 3rd party utility; there are several on the web.  Note: I’d strongly suggest using one that uses client side JavaScript (JS) to process the data. This means that the data is actually processed in your browser rather than on the website’s server.  I’d also suggest reviewing their privacy policy before inputting any data, looking for any red flags.

The one I’m going to use in this example is; specifically the Add-Remove Line Breaks function.  This page allows you to paste the email address data fields from Excel (which will be line break delimited), perform a function to replace the line breaks with commas (and/or semicolons), and copy the resulting single-line list to be pasted back into your Excel file.  It might sound complicated, but it is just a few mouse clicks.

  1. Open your Excel roster (in this example, “Bio_Roster_P1.xlsx”) and drag a box to highlight only the email address column for only the rows that contain your student data (as seen below).  Once highlighted, right-click the data then left-click Copy from the contextual menu (as seen below).
  2.  Leave your excel window open, we’ll use it to paste our reformatted data into shortly.  Open your web browser (you are probably already in it if you are reading this) and go to the Add-Remove Line Breaks page mentioned above.

    1. Clear all the text in all fields by clicking the C button above the input box (above, A).
    2. Paste the student emails that you just copied from Excel into the input box (above, B).
      Note: You may find the cursor on a blank line at the bottom of your data.  If so, hit the Backspace key on the keyboard to remove it.  The cursor should be at the end of the bottom email address before proceeding.
    3. Enter “, ” (comma followed by a single blank space) in the top-right field (above, C).  In this box, you are specifying the delimiter to be used in between data (replacing the current delimiter, the line break).
    4. Click the Remove All Line Breaks button (above, D).
    5. The output box will contain a single line of every email address you provided, separated by commas (above, E).
    6. Click the S button to highlight the output text (above, F).
    7. Right-click the text, then left click Copy from the contextual menu (above, G).
  3. You now have all the email addresses from your class (separated by commas) in your clipboard.  You’ll need to put that information in an appropriate and easy to access location.  In this example, I’m going to put it right back into my existing Excel document.
    1. If you still have your Excel from step 1, switch back over to Excel.  Leave your web browser open to the textmechanic web page (don’t clear out your data from the form; we’re going to use it again).  If you closed Excel, reopen your file  at this time.
    2. Enter “Google List” into column A on an available row below your class list. In my example, I left a blank line to separate my lists from the exported data.
    3. Paste the data from your clipboard into column B of the same row (as seen below).
    4. Save your changes (Remember this is Excel not Google Sheets.  You still need to tell it to save changes).
    5. If you are intending to send email using Outlook or Outlook Web Access, you’ll need the same list  separated by semicolons instead of commas.
      1. Go back to your the textmechanic “Remove Line Breaks” page in your web browser (it should still have your data in it).
      2. Repeat steps 2C through 2G above, instead using “; ” (semicolon followed by a single blank space) for step 2C.
      3. Repeat steps 3A through 3D, using the next available row, entering “Outlook List” (instead of “Google List”) in Column A of step 3B (as seen above).


You now have lists you can easily copy and paste when sharing items with your class using Google Drive, or when sending an email using Outlook (if needed).  Just click the appropriate cell (containing the list), copy it, and paste it into the appropriate location.  Repeat the above process for the rest of your classes.  If you are storing your class-related files in Google Drive, you could upload and convert this roster to Google Sheet, then file it in an applicable location in your drive;  you could have access to your roster from anywhere!

If you have any questions or comments about this process, please leave a reply below or as always just stop by and see me.

Teaching Students to Search Effectively With Google

Go to Google, type in your search terms and click “Google Search”.  How many times a day do you rely on this process to learn about new things (or remind yourself of things you’ve forgotten)?

The internet is an ever expanding beast, continually fed an incomprehensible amount of information.  Every single day, over 2 million blog posts (like this one) are written (check out the “A Day In the Internet” infographic).  Teaching your students (and yourself) how effectively and efficiently use Google Search is a skill that is not only useful now, but also a skill that will exponentially increase in value moving forward throughout their careers.

Google has created a site dedicated to “search education” to assist you in this effort – Google Search Education.  They offer pre-made lesson plans on a variety of topics for beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.  The site also has webinar-style instructional videos.  View these concepts in action in the video below.

Digital Classroom using Google Drive and gClassFolders

gClassFolders is a template and set of scripts created by Bjorn Behrendt that works with Google Drive.  It provides teachers with the ability to automatically generate folders to publish information to their students using a “View” folder, as well as collect information from their students using “Dropboxes”.  It is easy to setup, provides built-in organization for your class related files, and eliminates the need for teachers and students to “share” individual items with each other to distribute or turn in assignments.

Before continuing with the instructions below, I’d suggest reviewing the 3 minute video below, created by Dee Lanier from  It shows the process in action.

Running the gClassFolders Scripts

  1. Go to your Google Drive.
  2. Click drive_create_button then From template… as seen below.
  3. Make sure you are in the “Public Templates” tab (“A” below) of the template gallery (if you aren’t, click Public Templates) and search for “gClassFolders” (“B” below), then click Use this template (“C” below).
  4. A new Google spreadsheet will open containing the following columns:
    1. Student Fname – student’s first name.
    2. Student Lname – student’s last name.
    3. Student Email – student’s D155 email address.
    4. Class Name – the name of your class.
    5. Period (Optional) – the period of the class.
      Note: I’d suggest using this to provide easier organization.  If you are using periods, you’ll have sets of student dropboxes organized by period, but a single “Class Edit” and “Class View” folder.  This way you can place items you want to distribute in a single “Class View” folder, and all periods of a given class will have access to those items.  If you want each period of the same class to have different “Class View” and “Class Edit” folders, then you should create a different class name for each period (e.g. “Bio 1st Period”, “Bio 3rd Period”, etc.).  In that scenario, you wouldn’t use the “Period (Optional)” column.
    6. Teacher Email or blank if you – assuming you are completing this process for yourself and are logged into your D155 account, you should leave this blank.
  5. Enter one row of information for each of your students. (as seen below)
    Note 1: Because there are columns for class name and period, you can run this process one time for all of your classes..
    Note 2: In the future, I will be creating a post on how to export your student names and email addresses from Skyward.  That will save you the time of entering them manually.  Alternatively, you could use a Google form to collect first name, last name and period from your students.  Assuming that form is set to collect their email automatically, you would then have all the data you need for this process in a Google spreadsheet, which you could then copy and paste into this spreadsheet.
  6. When you have all your student information in the spreadsheet, click the gClassFolders menu, then click Sort Sheet. (as seen below)
  7. You will be prompted to verify your intent to run the script (as seen below).  Click OK to continue.
    Note:  This is a 3rd party script (not made by Google) and requires you to grant it access to make folders in your drive.  This window is making sure you understand that.  I have run this script several times and it is widely used by teachers across the county.  I feel comfortable running this script personally, but you should read this and make sure you feel comfortable before proceeding.
  8. You will receive a message stating “Now you can run the script” (as seen below).  Click Close.
  9. Because the script wasn’t authorized when you clicked “Sort Sheet” the first time, the original action never completed.  Now that the script has been authorized to run, once again click the gClassFolders menu, then click Sort Sheet.
  10. A small yellow banner will show up near the top of the screen to inform you that the script is running, then again when the script has finished (as seen below).
  11. Now that the information has been sorted (if any sorting was necessary), click the gClassFolders menu, then click Create Folders and Shares (as seen below).
  12. You should see another yellow banner informing you that the script is running (as seen below).
    Note: This step will take longer than the sort script.
  13. When complete, you should see a popup box (as seen below) informing you that the folders are now shared with your students.  Click OK.
  14. You’ll then see a final banner notifying you that the script is complete (as seen below).

That’s it!  You’ve successfully set up “Share” and “Edit” folders for each class you specified, as well as student dropboxes for each student, separated by period.

Understanding What You’ve Created


In your drive, you’ll find a folder named after each class.  Using my example, I have one folder called “Google Drive”.  Each folder will contain three sub-folders:

  1. Student Dropboxes – this folder will contain a sub-folder for each period you specified (if used).  Each period will contain a folder named after each student.  Students will be able to put items into this folder on their drive, and you’ll be able to see and edit those items when you access this folder from your drive.
  2. (class name) – View – All members of the class will have view level permissions to this folder.  This where you would place your syllabus and “hand out” type materials.  Anything you move into this folder (or create in this folder) will be instantly viewable by all the students in your class.
    Note: Remember, if you elected to separate your classes using periods, all students from all periods of a given class have access to this folder.
  3. (class name) – Edit – Anything in this folder will be editable by all members of the class.  This folder was created to facilitate group work, however I would recommend avoiding the use of it in our setting.  Every student in your class (or all your periods of the same class if you are using periods) will be able to edit any item in this folder.  If you don’t foresee a need for this folder, you can simply delete it.  It will no longer show up in your students’ drives.  To delete it, drag it to the trash as seen below.
    Note: If you don’t see “Trash” as one of the options on the left side of your drive, click the More link at the bottom.  This will expand the items in this column to include the trash.

star_smallTip: I’d suggest using these folders to facilitate your own organization of your information for each class.  In my example, I could put all my items related to my “Google Drive” class in my “Google Drive” folder.  I could even make additional folders to organize my things (handout folder, assignment folder, etc.).  As long as the information isn’t in one of sub-folders created by gClassFolders, the items will be private to you.  You can take a file from this parent directory and move it into the “View” folder for that class on as-needed basis.  The students will instantly have access to the information.  Then move the item back to your private folder when you don’t want them to have access to it anymore.  You can update the files as necessary, using the same process to “hand out” the information the following semester.   This allows you to stay organized in a per-class manner without having to maintain two separate folder structures for your classes.

Training Your Students

Students will automatically have access to their dropbox folder, as well as the “View” and “Edit” (if you decided to keep it) folders for the class to which they are assigned.  These items will show up under “Shared with me” in their Google Drive automatically.

To allow for easy access to these items, I suggest instructing your students to do the following:

  1. Go to their Google Drive.
  2. Create a new folder by clicking the CREATE button, then clicking Folder (as seen below).
  3. Type a name for the folder, then click Create (as seen below).  In my example, I’ll use “Google Drive” since that is what the class is called.
    Note: Have them name this folder in a way that is most easily identifiable with this class for them.  This could be by subject, period, teacher name; every student could use something different – this name only serves their own organization of their drive.
  4. Click Shared With Me (in the left column of the drive interface).  This will display items that have been shared with them (like the folders you made for your class) in the right column of the drive interface (as seen below).
    Note: On the left side of the drive interface, they may need to expand the “My Drive” item.  If expanded, the small arrow to the left of “My Drive” will be pointing downward  and the folder they just created will be listed.  If not expanded,  they should click the arrow expand their drive (as seen above).
  5. They should then drag and drop each of the folders that were created by you using gClassFolders (their dropbox, the class “Edit” folder, and the class “View” folder if you elected to use it) from the right side of the drive interface, onto the folder they just created on the left side of the interface (as seen below).

Each student will now have a folder that corresponds to your class located directly in their drive.  They won’t need to scroll through “Shared with me” each time to access these items.  In addition, they can put their work for your class in the folder they created themselves (the one they dragged the other folders into), applying the same organizational tip to their work that I provided above to you.  You, as the teacher, won’t be able to access any of their items unless they put them in the dropbox; they have an organized space to store their work for your class until it is ready to be submitted, and to archive it after it is complete.

Finally you’ll need to lay out your expectations of them.  They’ll need to know that when you say “I put it in the view folder” that they can simply log onto their drive from any device and view the item or items you’ve put there.  In the scenario where they are handing things into you, you’ll need to give them the expectation that they need to have their submission in their dropbox by a certain date and time.  You can then easily traverse the dropboxes by class, then by period, then by student to evaluate and grade their submissions.

That’s it for gClassFolders!  Please leave a reply below or stop by and see me if you have questions or need clarification with any of the concepts discussed here.

Understanding Visibility and Sharing Options In Google Drive

google_drive_logo_3963One of the most powerful features available with Google Drive is your ability to easily share items with others.  By understanding the different visibility and sharing options available, you can use Google Drive to successfully collaborate with peers, and create an online repository for your students.  The tutorial below allows you to follow along using your Google Drive, learning about these options as you proceed.

  1. Go to your Google Drive.
    1. Note: If you are using the Google Chrome browser, I’d suggest installing the Google Drive app from the Chrome Web Store – it gives you one click access to your drive from the new tab page.
  2. Open any existing item that you’d like to share, or create a new item by clicking the drive_create_button button near the top left of your drive.
  3. To access the sharing options on anything in your drive, click the drive_share_button button near the top right corner while viewing the item.
  4. The “Sharing settings” window will appear.
      1. At the top, you’ll notice “Link to share”.  Every item in your Google Drive has a unique URL.  If you wanted to provide a link directly to this item to a person or group via email, or make a link to this item on your website, this is the URL you should use.
      2. Below “Link to share” is a section titled “Who has access”.  This section will have at minimum two rows.  The first is the row shows the visibility options applied to the item.  By default, all items created in Google Drive (unless created in or uploaded to a folder that applies permissions to its child objects) are private to only the owner.  By clicking “Change…”, you can select from the five available visibility options.

        drive_visibility_options(click to enlarge)

        1. Public on the Web – this is the loosest control regarding visibility.  Anyone will be able to see this item, and anyone will be able to find it using a search.
        2. Anyone with the link – similar to “Public on the web”, anyone on the internet can view the item.  However, they will need to have the link; the item will not show up in a search.
        3. Community High School District 155 (or your organization if you are outside District 155) – this option allows anyone signed into a District 155 account (all students and staff) to search for and view the item.
        4. People at Community High School District 155 with the link (or your organization if you are outside District 155) – similar to the previous option, the viewer must be logged into their District 155 account to view the item.  The item will not show up in searches however, they’ll need to have the link.
        5. Private –  the strictest and default option, this only allows access to the item by the owner, as well as any other person or group explicitly given permission to access it (if any).
      3. For example, if you wanted to use a Google document for your course syllabus, and wanted students and parents to be able to view it by clicking a link on your website, you could set visibility to “Anyone with the link”.   Parents who are outside the organization can view the item by clicking the link you placed on your website, but the document wouldn’t show up in search results for anyone on the internet.
      4. Set the applicable visibility option by clicking the associated radio button, then click the drive_save_button button.
      5. Note: You can return to sharing settings and change visibility options of any item, at any time.

    (click to enlarge)

  5. Once you click Save, you’ll be returned to the Sharing settings window.  Listed below the visibility settings is a line indicating the owner of the item.  This will be “you” for any item you’ve uploaded or created (and haven’t transferred ownership to someone else).
  6. Below the owner (and any other users who currently have a role applied to this item)  is the Add people box.  Click in the text box and start typing a name. This can be a first name, last name, or email address. Google Drive will predict the user or group that you are looking to share with as you type.  Once you see the name of the user or group you’d like to share with, click it, or continue typing until it is the only option in the drop down list.  Hit the enter key on your keyboard to complete the action.
  7. Now that his/her/their name(s) and email(s) are in the text box, click the Can edit link to the right.  This is where you are able to select his/her/their level of access to this item.  Select one of the three options:
    1. Can edit – by selecting this option, the user or group members will have full edit access to the item.  This is useful when collaborating with other users.
    2. Can comment – this option would allow the user or group members to add comments to the item, but not allow him/her/them to edit the item.  This is useful for situations where you want feedback from someone, but don’t want to give them permission to make changes.
    3. Can view –  this option only allows the user to view the item.  This is useful for providing information in one direction.  This is commonly used to provide “handout” type communications to students.
  8. Below the add people box, there is a check box titled “Notify people via email”.  With this box checked, the person or persons you are granting access to your item will receive a short notification email letting them know that you’ve shared the item with them.  You can add a custom message to that email by clicking “Add message”.  If you un-check this box, the item will still show up under “Shared with me” in their drive, they just won’t be notified via email.
  9. At the very bottom of the window, there is a line that states “Editors will be allowed to add people and change the permissions.”  This is the default setting.  Often times when sharing collaborating with others, you don’t want them to be able to  grant other people access to the item.  If you click the Change link to the right of the message, you can change this setting to “Only the owner can change permissions.”  If you enable this option, only you as the owner can  add additional access to the item.
    1. Note: I’d recommend that you change this setting to “Only the owner can change permissions” if you plan on giving others “Can edit” permissions unless you specifically need editors to have the ability to add others to the item.
  10. When you have your sharing settings set the way you want, click the drive_share_and_save_button button to apply the settings.  If you chose the notify people by email option, this will automatically send a notification email to the people or groups that you’ve added.
  11. The names of the people added will now show up in the sharing settings window underneath the owner.
  12. Click drive_done_button to close the sharing window.
  13. Note: At any time you can click the drive_share_button button to view the current sharing settings of any item in your drive.  From this window, you can modify all of the settings you have set previously, change current user permissions, remove a user’s access by clicking the X next to their name, add additional users to the item, and even transfer ownership of the item to another user.

Now that you understand the different sharing and visibility options in Google Drive, you can apply these concepts and start successfully sharing with students, parents, and each other!  If you have any questions about the concepts above, please leave a reply below or contact me directly.

The Jeopardy Game – Google Docs Edition

Many teachers have been using the Jeopardy game (via PowerPoint) as a staple in their curriculum for many years.  It is a great tool, always able to effectively engage the students.

I ran across a Google Presentation template of the game.  You can view it here.  Copy the template to your drive and customize it to suit your needs.jeopardy

Let me know if you use this with your class or if you have any questions by leaving a comment below.

Chromebook Serial Number

I recently saw a discussion involving a user who was trying to figure out how to determine the serial number of a chromebook when the sticker had been removed from the device. Unable to easily locate that procedure, I thought it would be a good idea to make a post to help others in this situation.  This process has only been tested on a Samsung 550 model.

If you aren’t familiar with developer mode, I’d suggest reading this article.  In most scenarios, all user data is stored in the cloud; erasing the stateful partition has no ramifications to the end user.  Please understand what you are doing by booting into developer mode before continuing with this process.

  1. Boot the device into developer mode (toggle the developer switch)
  2. At the chrome OS verification screen, press Ctrl+D (this will wipe the stateful partition)
  3. The device will erase and reboot
  4. Once again, press Ctrl+D at the chrome OS verification screen
  5. At the select language screen, press Ctrl+Alt+→ (the “forward” key, top row, F2)
  6. Type

    and hit enter

  7. Type
    sudo dump_vpd_log --full –stdout

    and hit enter

“Product S/N” is your serial number!  Let me know if this helped you or if you have any questions in the comments.