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Enriching Scholarship 2014 – Google Apps in CTools June 4, 2014

Posted by aquillam in teaching.
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Enriching Scholarship is “a week of free workshops, discussions, and seminars… for instructional faculty and staff” at the University of Michigan. On Thursday I attended a session on using Google Drive and Calendar in CTools. I am also part of the pilot. Members of the Astronomy Department can check it out on the ASTRO 000 sandbox site. 

Currently, these tools are in Pilot mode, but they expect to release them in fall. If you want to see them (or anything else on the site) the way your students see them, creating a friend account and adding it to your site is highly recommended.

CTools should be a hub for students and faculty to access and organize their tools and materials. To that end, the developers have started trying to bring other tools, like Google Calendar and Drive, into CTools. They chose these tools as priorities because when students were polled about what they wanted, they overwhelmingly asked for Google Calendar.

Google Calendar

Please note that putting both the Google Calendar and the Schedule tool on a single site is not recommended.

If you add the calendar to your site, your students should automatically have access to it in their Google Calendar under the Other Calendars section. If they hide it from their list, they can get it back in the calendar settings. Also, it can’t be hidden from CTools, so they view it there. They (and you) can also control the notifications under the settings, but don’t forget that the general settings are over-ridden by event specific settings. You may want to save the reminders for important events, like exams, and let them set their own homework reminders.

The calendar should show up in your list under “My Calendars.” Just like your students, you can use settings to change whether or not it is displayed, set default notifications, etc. You will always have access to it through CTools.

You can only have one calendar per site, and there are no group-level permissions (so no group-specific deadlines). Also, be aware that at this time, friend accounts cannot actually open the event and get the details.

Currently, it works with the Assignments tool, so when you create an assignment, you can check “Add due date to schedule” and it will put the deadline on the calendar. They are also working on integrating it with the sign-up tool (currently in stealth mode.) Test Center is likely to be the next priority after that, but probably not in time for fall. You can of course manually add events to the calendar too.

Students should be able to “invite” the calendar to an event, so you can use it . You control the settings for what the calendar does with the invitation, which could include setting the calendar to auto-decline all invitations.

You can export/import events from one calendar to another, just like a regular Google Calendar.

Drive

As with Calendar, you get one root folder, and there are no group level permissions. Anything put in the Drive folder for your CTools site is automatically shared with everyone on the site. Sharing permissions are at the folder level only, not document level, so be aware that if you give edit permission to the folder, that means the students can edit every document in that folder!

The big advantage of course is that you can access it from your Drive, including your desktop application, so you can write an assignment on the bus, save it in your drive folder, and it will automatically be added to the CTools site when you get an internet connection. No need to revise it locally, then log in to CTools and up lead the new version!

Since it is tied to Drive, each document has a URL, so you can attach it to something in Assignments or Test Center (just remember, it’s there for the students to see!)

 

That brings to an end all my notes from this year’s Enriching Scholarship! I hope you found them useful.

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