Sunday, March 22, 2020

Getting it Done With Google Assignments

Do you and your students use a LMS (Learning Management System) to post and submit assignments?  Do you and/or your students use Google Drive and more specifically Google Docs in order to complete assignments?  Do you or your students sometimes have difficulty locating the file before and/or after submitting it?  If you have answered "yes" to the questions above, then it's time for you to start using Google Assignments.  And yes, it's FREE.

Google Assignments (formerly known as Course Kit), is a coursework creation and grading tool that you can use within G Suite for Education alongside your existing LMS. Until my teachers and students began using Google Assignments, they were spending way too much time posting and submitting their assignments.  Students were uploading their documents to Google Drive and then sharing it with the teacher, some of them bypassing the LMS completely, which led to disorganization of the students'  contributions. Digital tools should be designed in order to make our lives easier; not more difficult. Dean Karnazes, American athlete said, "I don't know about you, but all this modern technology that's supposed to save us time and effort has actually ended up making things more complicated in my life, eating up extra time."  

Google took the best interest of both teachers and students into account and developed Assignments, which uses the open source Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) specification to seamlessly integrate with 3rd party LMSs. It includes some of the best features from Google ClassroomNo longer does a teacher need to spend ten minutes or so posting an assignment and hoping that the students will know how to access the assignment and complete it and submit it properly.  Rather, after a teacher posts the assignment, Google will automatically create a unique and editable copy for each student.  The student will see the file listed directly below the teacher's post to the assignment.  When the student opens the file, a new Google Docs window opens with the student's copy of the assignment.  The student will then work inside of this window and, when he/she has completed the assignment, theythe window and click the "Submit" button in order to submit the assignment to the teacher.  The teacher will then receive a notification that the assignment has been submitted and will be able to grade the assignment using Google Assignments. Depending on how the assignment was posted (Google Docs Cloud Assignments or Google Assignments) some assignments can be graded in SpeedGrader, for those of you who use Canvas LMS.  

For those of you who grew up in the 1990's like me and before that, remember CliffsNotes?  It's OK, I'm not judging as I remember Cliffs Notes very well.  In fact, Cliffs Notes was one of my best friends in high school.  Although our students today might not have access to CliffsNotes, they have access to more information than ever with the internet..  s educators, it's our job to teach them when to use the Internet, when not to use the Internet, and how to use the Internet properly and responsibly.  Google knows that this is a huge responsibility on our shoulders; and they included the feature of running originality reports within Google Assignments.  

  • I remember years ago in high school sitting with my CliffsNotes beside me as I would write my essays.  Before turning in my essay or research paper to my teacher, I would glance over my paper and ask myself, "Does it sound too much like CliffsNotes?"  We need to teach our students how to submit authentic work - their own work.  If the students submit or cite the work of others' it's crucial that they give credit to the original author.  

  • Attach a file to an assignment so each student gets their own copy to edit and turn in.
  • Check for missed citations and possible plagiarism with the Originality reports feature.
  • Embed Drive files with the Canvas rich text editor.
  • Add Drive files to Canvas Modules.
Assignments LTI includes all the features of the Google Apps LTI tool, except Canvas Collaborations. This feature is coming soon.

To watch the Google Assignments Webinar, visit