Wednesday, May 1, 2013


In a previous post, I explored the script Flubaroo and how it streamlines assessment creation and grading in Google Docs.  Flubaroo and Doctopus were both buzzwords that I initially heard about from other tech friends.  They seemed like things I should learn and know about, so at a recent conference I attended a session on Google Docs and the Common Core presented by Mark Fijor.  At the session, I learned enough about Doctopus to know that I needed and wanted to know a lot more.  I finally had a chance to explore a bit with Doctopus and see just how helpful it can be in distributing, collecting, and organizing content in Google Docs.

So what is Doctopus and how do you get started?  Doctopus is a script that can be added to a spreadsheet in Google Docs that can help you assign work to students and send email notifications to students with your grades and personalized feedback.  The first thing you'll need to do is create a class roster (with emails for notification) in a spreadsheet in Google Docs:

  Create your assignment in Google Docs.  Create a copy of your class roster spreadsheet (preferably with the assignment name in the title:)

Next, create a folder with the name of the assignment.  Now, you are ready to insert and install Doctopus:

Once installed, Doctopus will walk you through four steps to get set up.  Step 1 establishes how to want to share your assignment: groups, individually, individually but differentiated, or whole class:

Step 2 prompts you to choose what to copy and distribute by identifying the file you want to share, which is preferably stored in assignment folder.  Step 3 asks you to choose your destination folder and to set up file naming and notifications.  If you have set up a folder already (in a previous step) simply use that folder name for your assignment, and establish naming convention for the submitted student assignments, e.g., Student Last Name + Title, etc.  There is also a prompt for the email notification subject line and a personalized note to include with the email message.

Step 4, the last step, reviews your settings and gives an overview of notification email.  When you click "Run Copy and Share", the Doctopus script runs, and the spreadsheet opens with links to the students' work, when it was last edited, and adds columns to populate grades and individualized feedback that can be emailed to students.  You can also attach a Goobric rubric to the assignment (which I will probably investigate in greater detail in a future post.)  As a way of visually summarizing all of this information, I created the following semi-flowchart in the Explain Everything app:

I am definitely excited about sharing Doctopus with my staff.  It seems as though what Flubaroo was to multiple-choice and true-false assessments, Doctopus is to extended- and constructed-response assessments, as well as a valuable tool for Google Docs organization!

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