#OEB15 Workshop: Creating personal tutoring environments with Google Apps Script

Last week I was fortunate to attend OEB 2015 (http://www.online-educa.com/) in Berlin. There were many great presentations and sessions at OEB and I particularly enjoyed Jenny Fisher and Chrissi Nerantzi’s Playing for Change – the Role of Creative Activities session, and I look forward to more similar sessions at the ALT Annual Conference next year. My contribution to OEB15 was a workshop on ‘Creating personal tutoring environments with Google Apps Script’. As it happened this workshop followed the opening plenary in which David Price was encouraging delegates to find their inner hacker and take a more autonomous approaches to education (recording here). Below is my submitted session abstract followed by slides:

This Tech Lab will introduce participants to Google Apps Script <https://developers.google.com/apps-script/>. Apps Script is a cloud scripting language integrated into Google Drive and other Google Services. Unlike other cloud based products Apps Script is free to use by Google consumer and Google Apps users. Apps Script strengths lie in automation and customisation of Google Documents, Sheets, Forms, Sites and other services outside the Google product family. A recent development for Documents, Sheets and Forms is the ability to wrap customization written using Apps Script as add-ons allowing for easier reuse and distribution.

All teaching inevitably has a degree of administration required and often the size of the cohort can dramatically add to the time required. This is the strength of Learning Management Systems, but at the cost of a potentially restricted set of tools. We see Apps Script as an important tool for educators as it gives the opportunity for them to create a personal learning experience not constrained by the features or functionality of large learning management systems but not adversely affect the time required for administration. We also see Apps Script as an important tool for educators as it opens the opportunities to develop new ways to support learning. For example there continues to be an interest in using Twitter to support learning and teaching but currently there are very few tools if any that support the administration of Twitter in this context such as recording student contributions.

As part of this Tech Lab participants will be given an introduction to Apps Script including the authoring environment and programme syntax. Participants will have the opportunity to work through a basic coding project to integrate Google Sheets and Google Calendar. A leader in the development of Apps Scripts for education is the New Visions for Public Schools Cloud Lab. As part of the Tech Lab participants will be introduced to some of the Cloud Lab’s Add-ons <http://cloudlab.newvisions.org/add-ons> which are free for anyone to use. There will be an opportunity  to setup and test some of these with our support. For the final part of the Tech Lab participants will be given the opportunity to see how Apps Script can be integrated with third party products with a demonstration of a Google Sheets and Twitter integration.