This is the second part of a series, you can read the first post at Tools to share data and real world data stories with students – Part One.

Working with data in the classroom

I recently ran a class (in our excellent Arguments, Evidence, and Intuition undergrad subject) on finding and manipulating data.

As part of the class I wanted to:

  • Demo some sheets functions to import data (importhtml, etc.) and show some shared data
  • Have each individual student get access to their own copy
  • Retain access to the files myself so I can (a) help students as they go, (b) get insight into the activity and potentially informally assess it, and (c) use a pre-formatted sheet to get feedback on the session

By sharing a Google Sheets URL with copy in it you can force users to create their own copy of a shared sheet. That option meets needs (a) and (b) above, but it doesn’t meet (c). Happily, there’s a Google Drive add-on called doctopus that does just that, and more!

Google drive and doctopus

Today’s latte, Google Drive. By Yuko Honda (CC-By-SA)

Using doctopus, you can share a file with a class list, plus share feedback with them on their work (using a rubric if you want), and view basic metrics like who is editing, who’s adding and replying to comments, etc. You can also create documents shared with pre-assigned groups (so each group has their own copy), or with the whole class, and you can give different documents to different groups or individuals (to differentiate, or just give a diversity of tasks).

It’s brilliant, with pretty minimal setup you can run activities making use of Google docs, and if (like UTS) your institution has Google apps the login/sharing address is just the institutional one.

One of the features I like – but wish could be easily extended – is the dashboard view of student activity. This lets the instructor(s) know which students have accessed the documents when, how many edits they’ve each made, and whether they’re adding/responding to comments (implying some degree of collaboration, and giving an indication of where there might be comments that need resolving). I’ve written before about collaboration/cooperation data in Google docs/etherpad type systems, but doctopus provides a good start.

Note: this post has been adapted and republished from Using Google drive and doctopus for whole-class group and individual tasks, originally posted on Simon Knight’s blog.

Feature image credit: Dennis Kummer.

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