Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Create a Student Dropbox and Work Log with Google Tools

We have seen a number of examples where Google Data Studio has been used effectively to visualize and share data from a Google Form in multiple ways. Since Google Forms can capture the email address of the person filling out the form, the Filter by Email feature of Data Studio can be used to create a customized report with only the information that person submitted. Data Studio could also be used to display the same data for the teacher, or even for the public (if appropriate).
With remote learning happening in school districts all over the world, schools have taken advantage of technology tools to facilitate the delivery of learning materials and collection of student work. Many districts use Google Classroom or other Learning Management Systems to facilitate this process, but there may be situations where a teacher or school would want to collect and share student work in a different way.

I only recently learned (within the past year) that Google Forms has a File Upload question type, which requires the person filling out the form to be logged in to Google. It then places the uploaded files in a dedicated folder on the Form owner's Google Drive, and adds a column in the Form's Google Sheet results of links to each submitted file. Many folks have used Google Forms as a "drop box" of sorts since this feature was released. 

I started thinking about how we might use the File Upload/dropbox approach to Google Forms with Data Studio, especially if we were asking students to share materials that were visual images. I put together a sample Form which asks students to upload a picture based on a weekly assignment. We can then think about displaying the student-submitted responses and files in a variety of ways in Data Studio, but all with the same data source (the Form Sheet.)
  • A student-specific work log, which allows a student to view only his or her responses and submitted work, like a portfolio of sorts. 
  • A teacher- or class-specific work log, which allows the teacher to look at responses/work by student OR by assignment.
  • A public display of student work, which might display images and descriptions, either with or without student names. 
Here's the example Data Studio Report for your exploration. Each page of the report shows a different version of the report (in actuality they would be separate report files), but all use the SAME data source.

Please read through the About notes on the report itself for some of the trickier things about putting this one together. Let me know if you want to give this a try yourself - I'm happy to help!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Google Maps in Data Studio

For a while now, Data Studio has had the ability to visualize data in map form. However, recently this feature was upgraded to be able to display "geo" data in Google Maps within a report. Geo data is essentially just data that represents a street address, city, country, etc. 

I had previously created a travel log report for a family member, which allowed them to update a Google Sheet with different locations they had visited, and it marked them on a map in the report. (Yes, I sometimes create reports for fun. Don't judge.) The travel log allows filtering by year, trip name, or trip operator, and I updated it to include the Google Maps functionality when it became available. Now, the map narrows in on an area of the globe when a trip is selected AND allows the user to zoom to street view and look around. Not education data, I know, but a fun way to revisit past trips until we can travel again. Check out a sample copy here (including directions to make your own). 

I started wondering if there were ways a report using this feature could become part of a student learning activity. I played around with exploring map data of Civil War battles using data I found online, but didn't get too far with it. I ended up creating a Massachusetts Cities and Towns report (based on Wikipedia entries) that allows the user to explore information like population, government type, county, and town seal. 

While I did create the data source for this report myself, I realized that it could just have easily been created by students submitting data via a Google Form. Wouldn't that be fantastic? Say your third grade has 350-ish students, and you ask them each to research one of 351 Massachusetts cities or towns, gathering population, government type, county, and a link to the town seal. Students put their findings into a Google Form, which results in a Sheet that becomes the source for a report like this one!

I would LOVE to hear some other ideas for learning activities like this, where data is collected by students, submitted via a form and then displayed on a map. If you've got an idea, I'll help you pull it off!

Google Maps in GDS: Examples and Resources