Social Work Digital Portfolio – Google Docs Style

Image from page 589 of “Modern magic. : A practical treatise on the art of conjuring.” (1885) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) Our Social Work program has traditionally done large paper-based student portfolios. They wanted to move to something digital. That led to some conversations about Google Docs and our options there. They needed the ability to- provision a set of folders and documents to individual students allow the students to edit/add to the folders stop editing rights at a certain date make the student folder anonymous for faculty reviewers The solution I ended up coming up with uses a Google Spreadsheet with some custom Google Script. It’s based on a spreadsheet with column A being the student email and column B being the anonymous number or name. You make a parent folder (Social Work 2017) and put the spreadsheet and the folder (student portfolio) you want to copy in the folder. You add the student emails and secret IDs to the spreadsheet. The script is activated via custom-menu element imaginatively entitled ‘Share Files’ and it copies the student portfolio for each student email listed, names it with the addition of the secret ID, and gives the student editor rights to their particular folder and its contents. It also writes the […]

Auto-Logging Email via Google Script

flickr photo shared by OSU Special Collections & Archives : Commons with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) A while back I was logging emails in a Google sheet via IFTTT. I’d add a hashtag and forward it on where a spreadsheet would parse out some stuff from the subject line based on the | character. At some point it stopped working and I never quite figured out what the issue was. I thought I wrote about it but, if I did, I can’t find it. It may be in one of my many draft posts. In any case, here’s a better and more customizable solution. It’ll grab anything I label ‘support’ and throw it in a spreadsheet with a few different chunks of information in different columns (to, from, date, subject line, link to the email). You’d open a spreadsheet and name a sheet ‘data.’ Open up the script editor (Tools>Script Editor) and put the script below in it. You might want to change the search parameters. Look at the stuff below the asterisk line. If you want to play around with the right search parameters, just practice in GMail with these parameters and then use them in the query variable below. You will want to set the trigger to run at 1-2AM each day. So now, all I have […]

No More Temptations

sudo nano /etc/hosts sudo dscacheutil -flushcache That chunk of code run sequentially (don’t cut/paste it all at once) in terminal on the Mac kills all access to Facebook. I did it because I was finding myself drawn back to wrestling with pigs. I’m not sure Bernard Shaw said it but I remember my dad saying something similar growing up. When people post stuff from Prager U . . . it’s hard to resist but I’m trying to be smarter about my time and energy. I’ve sworn never to engage in a serious conversation on facebook before . . . but was finding it hard to resist in this case. Thus the full iron door of an edited host file was instituted. You might try it and see how often you find yourself going to a page without really thinking.

Adjusting Tension in Slack

flickr photo shared by ReflectedSerendipity under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license Like everyone else it seems, we started using Slack at work. It’s been a while (maybe 6 months?) and I’ve had mixed feelings which seem to be echoed by the group so I thought I’d take a harder look at our use and at least sketch out my personal feelings about where it’s working for me and where I’m struggling. As you should expect, your mileage should vary. Do not trust me. I am an unreliable narrator. I may not even know what’s going on here. Umwelt and all that. Workflow & Intent On my end, I thought Slack was worth pursuing mainly because of archive and search. Workflow baby. I’ve had a number of jobs and it’s really ugly to come in somewhere and realize any documentation that exists is in email exchanges. Those emails may forwarded to you in bulk or individually as you request information or they could simply disappear. That’s pretty horrific and if the emails are between the person you replaced and a faculty member, it’s really easy to simply lose all that information. The archive is valuable and while formal documentation is important a chunk of this stuff ought to be available through organic means. Given we’ve had a fair amount […]

WordPress for Syllabus Submission

This post is specifically about addressing a syllabus submission problem but it’s worth thinking about more broadly. It should be pretty applicable to any structured data entry problem you have. These are often administrative chores (like this one) but could also be about cataloging grave markers or indexing resources or Collecting the syllabi for their department is one of those miserable things department chairs often have to do. They then need to store and reference those syllabi for a few years.1 The normal pattern is to ask people to email the syllabus and there is usually some desperate plea for a common naming convention.2 This plea is followed by ~2 people. People are bad at directions (giving and following). Email makes this basic flaw 20 times worse.3 This particular pattern for misery incarnate is repeated over and over at VCU and across universities everywhere. I recently met with a faculty member who’d at least been asked to submit the syllabus to a shared Google Drive folder but he was having issues because of directions and Google’s interface for this kind of thing being not what it might be. The department chair was also stuck with the naming convention falling apart already and they only had about 8 syllabi in there. Please don’t do that. It’s best to avoid directions as […]


Documentation – Google Doc Drawing Tip

I’ve created documentation in lots of platforms with lots of people over the last 15 years. These attempts tend to fail, or fail to thrive, for a variety of reasons. I can’t address all of the human factors but I can look harder at a few of the mechanical ones. Here are a few of the questions I ask myself. Who is supposed to be contributing to the documentation? What tools do they use now? What is the fewest number of tools we can use? What enables the most people the easiest path to creating/editing? Based on those considerations, my latest attempt is to use Google Docs. It’s a super common tool that our entire team is familiar with. We can easily make it available online to anyone we want. It’s also a single tool that will all of our basic documentation needs (video is another matter). The place Google Docs doesn’t do well is in creating a public-facing static index or search box for all the content. I’m looking into API options around that at the moment. I a, doing at least one thing that I believe might make a difference. For instance, all of the images are inserted as drawings. That’s a little thing but one that eliminates a tool and allows for flexibility down the road. Ordinarily, […]

My Twitter Evolution – Episode 1

I joined Twitter in November of 2007 which is roughly seven and half years ago. That’s a fairly long time and both my use and my thoughts about Twitter changed quite a bit over that time. Consider that Twitter only produced about 5,000 tweets a day back 1 then compared to 50 million a day now. I thought it’d be interesting to look back at my blog and see what I thought about Twitter in those early days.2 The first post I can find is from a few months after I joined and the post was titled My Secret Shame (best of twitter 1-30-08). The title alone lets you know I really was kind of embarrassed to be on Twitter. Clearly not too embarrassed to write about it in public but it still felt like it could be a waste of time. Back in those days you couldn’t embed the tweets like you can now so I hand-copied in the text and attributed them but I linked to the author’s blog instead of the tweet itself. That shows pretty clearly that I saw the Twitter element as much less important. Surely you’d want to go to the blog itself. Other than liking three specific tweets I had this to say- *I’m not advocating for twitter, I’m still debating it. Today […]

Gravity Forms: Exploring a Design Pattern

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by clement127 One of the things we use a lot is what I’ll call templated submissions using Gravity Forms. It’s a solid performer across a variety of activities, disciplines, and instructor technology comfort levels. Costs/Benefits The content is guided/scaffolded so you get consistently constructed products (core elements are there and presented in a consistent manner) in a way that never quite works out with free form entries.1 Want to make sure students apply four lenses of analysis to a website review and end up with consistent titles and formatting? This is the type of construction where forms really help. Often this pattern is used as a way to get the advantage of creating web content without having to give students their own usernames/blogs/etc.2 It does reduce that overhead and makes good sense in situations where a full blog or authoring rights to a common blog may be overkill. One of the main advantages of this type of pattern is ending up with a visible, interactive, and useful aggregation of content. Make that matter. When these assignments have a larger purpose and audience things get far more interesting. A Few Examples These are live classes so please don’t submit entries at these sites. PSY 323< - focused on student submission of video/presentations […]

Photography – Week 46

At this point I’m taking between 200 and 300 pictures most days. I end up keeping about 1 out of 10. There’s talk about taking fewer pictures making you a better photographer. Maybe. I’m having fun and trying out lots of things so I’m ok with lots of pictures. Some shots I take I know won’t come out well with this lens but I want to create the itch to do it right. Other shots I take blind. Some times that’s to keep things really candid, other times I just want to take a shot from an angle my head can’t make it to (really high, really low). I’m willing to fire a few shots that way and take the penalty on post processing. With a number of the street photography attempts I start shooting early and keep shooting. It’s closer to the way I used to shoot football. My processing workflow starts with a quick run through where I throw away anything I dislike immediately. That’s often quite a few- focus errors, things I knew weren’t going to work etc. Round two is usually throwing away choices between similar photos. After that, I start actually editing. If I feel annoyed about editing to making the picture better then I throw it away. All this is now done in Lightroom […]


Citation Workflow – Diigo/Pinterest to Google SS

Talking to Bud the other day he mentioned that generating the citation page for his digital stories was something of a pain. I’ve thought about it a bit since then and decided to try to simplify a workflow for this. Odd thing I learned – – CHAR(10) is the official way to get line breaks in Google Spreadsheet formulas. Flickr to Diigo to Google Spreadsheets Initially, I looked at the Flickr galleries because that’s the option that Bud normally uses. I saw that the gallery was in a standard HTML list format and I had some hope. Google spreadsheets lets you pull lists and tables like these in via the IMPORTHTML function. Martin Hawksey has some good instructions and examples over here. So that failed but I could import just about every other list on the page. So, I decided doing this through Diigo would make pretty decent sense for a number of people. Assuming you choose a unique tag for the images you plan to use- this example just uses “flickr”, I’d suggest something story/movie specific. So the basic Diigo URL you’d get is Trying to make this really easy for people, I set up the first page to allow you to paste that URL in and our friendly formulas transform it into The example linked here […]