(This is a new category I just dreamed up – will post little snippets of useful stuff for teaching. My view is that technology should make your life easier and the experience of the student better – otherwise, don’t use the technology.)
At BI Norwegian School of Business we use a learning management system called It’s Learning. As these systems go, it is (I think) no better or worse than any other system, but the interface is a bit clunky. However, it has a very useful feature (which I learned from Ragnvald Sannes), namely the ability to display Google Docs within the page:
This is very useful because
- you can create all your course documents (syllabi etc.) in Google Docs, which is much better for editing and everything else. You can even edit the docs right in the It’s Learning window.
- you can give the students read, comment or write capability as you please. Giving the students write access to a shared document is useful for many purposes – I use it as a shared arena for proposing term papers, for instance. Linda Rademaker uses a shared spreadsheet for student group formation – the students write themselves into groups, and she has a tab with “Lost sheep” who have not found groups to work in.
- you can also share a Google Folder with the students and link that right from It’s Learning.
To set up a page like this, first create the document in Google Drive, copy the link to the document (“Share” in Google Doc, set the access rights to whatever you want), go to It’s Learning, click “Add” in the left column, choose “File or link”. Here you can choose various options, but what has worked for me is choosing “link” and pasting in the link. Make sure the “Embed page within itslearning” is checked, write the Title, and there you go.
Certainly has made my life easier, and hopefully made the students’ experience better.
(By the way, this does not work in China, of course (no Google Doc access), in case you teach there.)