December 2009 Archives

Stupid Google Doc Rediscover Email for Sharing Trick

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This one of the stupider workarounds, but given the lack of information on the Web, I thought I would share anyway. If there's a better way to do this, let me know (after you've done laughing).


I can figure out how to share a Google doc with any e-mail, but I hadn't been able to reveal the e-mail of a Doc I had already shared if they do not happen to be in my Contacts list. Here at Penn State Google Doc address are a mix of and addresses so it's kind of a guessing game.

For instance, suppose I share a doc with W. Adama once, and I need to share another one but can't remember the e-mail I used (may it's a gmail address, maybe it's not...). I could ask W. Adama, but he's generally very busy, so I'd rather extract it from the original share list.

Short Term Solution

  1. Open a doc you know you shared with person X (e.g. W. Adama).
  2. Click the Share button on the upper right and select See who has access
  3. Now for the trick part - Click link for Create Event w. these people. This opens a new tab create an entry into the Google Calendar app and add everyone to it.
  4. From the Guests field to the right, copy the e-mail e-mail address(es) you need, then click Cancel and Discard Changes No need to add anything to anyone's calendar.
  5. Close the Google Calendar tab in your browser. You should be back in your Google Doc.
  6. Back in Google Docs close your doc, create a new one and paste the address in your Share list.

Long Term Solution

You can add people to your Contacts list at To add a new contact, click the +Person icon at the upper left. This will show up in your contacts list when you need to share a Google doc in the future.

Playing with the Password Protected Blog

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OK so I did something slightly naughty and created a password protected blog for a course and had students post responses as comments in the blog. So how did that go?

Not too bad. The worst part was the initial set up. As I noted (extensively) in a staff meeting earlier, the set to connect a blog to a UMG class roster is not so user friendly. In the end I added (and updated) the list of students who could access that directory. It was a good thing that this was a small class. As I also commented then, I hope the UMG situation improves - just this week, Jason and I were talking about potential roster issues for an EGC Game...

But once it was set up, I placed a link in ANGEL, so navigation was transparent for the students. Since I am using ANGEL for other functions such as uploading assignments and lecture notes, it makes sense to just funnel them through ANGEL to other PSU services. Whether or not we keep ANGEL or any other centralized LMS, I do hope we maintain the functionality of an automatically generated online portal for individual courses. That roster function was truly something that sold ANGEL back in 2001.

As far as comments, I thought it worked well and I was confident that the other students could see it. Last round, when students were on their own blogs (before PSU Voices), students were constantly asking how to access the other blogs. For community building, it is important to make sure that blog assignments are gathered together.

The one regret I have was that I couldn't figure out a way to easily bump up students to a level where they could post original entries. I think I would have gotten contributions if I had (especially if extra credit is involved). I know it can be done and I did try once, but it was such a crazed semester, I never had the time to devote to figure it out.

I think my usability lesson is that something that seems trivial to an ID sitting at the office with a little debugging time and access to a support staff will seem much harder to a stressed instructor trying to fit in tech between classes and research proposals. It's a shame because a few times, I forgot to post an "entry" for a homework assignment and the students were flummoxed at not being able to post. Students worried about doing homework are also not in the optimal state for tech problem solving (trust me).

Would I do this again? Actually yes and I would probably find a way to add and bump students up to author at the beginning of the semester. I think the one thing I like about adding the password protected blogging option is that it can accommodate

I have nothing against student blogging in public in their own space if the learning objectives make it a good fit. In fact, two of my students just created blogs and posted URL in the comments (works for me). I just like having the safety net option.

I password protect my Facebook, my Twitter and other "non-public" spaces, and according to danah boyd, so do modern teens. While my class can be a public space, I like being able to make it more private. Sometimes, the point of college is that we can say and do stupid things, then learn in semi-seclusion that they are too stupid to repeat in public....Been there, done that.

What this Inquiring Instructional Designer Wants to Know

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An ongoing discussion we have had at ETS and in the instructional design community has been how to communicate what we are doing. We have discussed different tools, communication flows and how many times we have to do it. But I am not sure we have discussed what information we need to know and why.

What and Why

Speaking from a purely selfish perspective, I am most interested in any information to answer any question a faculty member might ask. The key here is that an instructor may ask anything at all related to technology. For instance, last summer I spent most of my time developing an online course. But when the ANGEL/Blackboard merger was announced, I spent about 15 minutes my course instructor explaining that ANGEL was not going away any time soon and that Penn State would have a plan.

I knew key reassuring details because I bugged Jeff (thanks dude) and listened to the chatter on ANGEL message boards. Similarly, if an instructor asks me about blogs, I do give what information I know...then point them to However, being able to answer some questions has some benefits. One is that it might save the Blogs Support system another redundant question. The other is that it allows me to build some credibility with my faculty client that I do know "technology." Strange, but true.

Finally, I tend to be interested in hearing about other projects so I have examples and strategies I can share on new projects. It's also good to learn tips on what works and what to avoid. Surprisingly, I am interested in technologies that I'm not necessarily using yet. For instance, I have yet to be involved in any clicker courses...but you never know when that could change or if a clicker question will be asked or if I realize that clickers could be darned useful for a new project. I'm just saying....

What isn't so important

Not to be snarky, but most of the information found in weekly reports aimed at managers is NOT that helpful. First, your manager pretty much knows what you are doing project wise - you don't have to explain what the TWT Certificate (or whatever) is every week. I, on the other hand, may need a project catchup. Second the report is more focused on listing what as accomplished, sometimes at a microscopic level (how many consultations, what focus group was completed, when the next phase will be completed).

This IS important to the organization, and I have no objection to giving it and sharing it (and I even skim it). But am I surprised that no one besides my manager is getting back to me on a project? Not really. My to do list is just not that exciting...


This has been tricky. What I want is a forum where questions can be asked. In the past we had done round-robins in some meetings, but if everyone is zoning out even I agree that it's not so effective. I do like that some meetings have evolved more into giving demos, and I hope this trend continues.

The problem is that if people aren't interested in a topic, then attendance may be too low for a presentation to have an ROI for the presenter. So we can perpetuate a pattern that we live in our silos. But now that I think of it, this may be a problem that is beyond my control...