07 February 2015

Using Scripts with Google Drive to Track Student/Teacher Progress

I've been at a conference for the last couple of days and had an opportunity to share some of the great things we are doing at Canadian Valley Technology Center, specifically in using scripts to create calendar events (like a bus request), automated progress reports, professional development transcripts, and teacher evaluations (coming soon).


The first script I ever used was one which would send the results of a form to someone other than the person submitting it. I found it online, changed the email address, and made it work. That looks pretty simple now, but it started me on a journey which has led me to my current place in learning programming.


We have started using scripts (which are bound to Google spreadsheets, calendar, forms, etc.) to take the results of a form (set up as a way for instructors to enter their professional development for the semester), create a copy of a template, replace all information in <<>> with information from the form, move it into a shared folder (one shared with the teacher's supervisor), share the document with the teacher (view rights only), and email a link to the document to the teacher. 

This was the first project we used to integrate the automation power of Google Scripts. We have since created an automated transportation request (auto-creates) an event on the bus/van/etc. calendar. We have also moved to a Google Sheets gradebook (from an Excel template), with automated progress reports. 

We are on about the 4th iteration of each of these as it has been a somewhat large learning curve for someone like me who had zero programming experience. I have done about 1/2 of the codecademy.com Javascript course which has enabled me to begin to conceptually understand Scripts within Google. 

But it takes so long!

Like every other kind of technology I have ever used in the classroom, yes, it takes a lot of time. However, all of the time you invest on the front side (development) you will get back probably two-fold on the backside. Time spent doing paperwork is reduced to nearly nothing. I remember the first school I worked at had a person who taught part time and the other part of her job was tracking professional development. This first script would have eliminated that entire part of her job. Not that I am in favor of people losing their jobs, but maybe that person could focus more on instruction? Or remediation? 

Next Steps:

If you are a Google District and you have someone who is willing to learn or already knows Javascript, I would highly recommend giving someone the autonomy to begin integrating something like this. There are scripts already written which people will/can share (I'm glad to share any I have done) and if you need help, some great resources are the Scripts documentation and stackoverflow.com. I do a lot of searching for help. 

If you would like to connect more about this topic, I'm happy to do so. You can connect through about.me/jbowie. If I can help you with anything, please let me know!

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