Category: Google Apps
Lucidchart, a free online software package for diagramming, is now available at BU in its enhanced educational version. Lucidchart is an easy way to draw flowcharts, mind maps and many other kinds of diagrams. It is comparable to Microsoft Visio, but unlike Visio it is cloud-based and cross-platform, and therefore an excellent solution for Mac users. The educational version allows advanced features not available to the general public, including Visio import/export and additional libraries of shapes. Lucidchart is integrated with BU’s Google Apps installation to make it easy to log into Lucidchart with your BU Google account and integrate with your BU Google Drive. TechWeb has a quick overview of Lucidchart and instructions on getting started.
BU Google Apps (including Gmail, Google Drive, Google Sites and more) now include unlimited amounts of storage space. Google Drive makes an excellent space to store large files that are difficult to email or fit on a server. If you don’t yet have a BU Google account, you can sign up for one on our account creation page.
The social networking site Google+ is now officially available as part of BU’s Google Apps, accessible through your BU and Kerberos accounts. This includes the popular service Google Hangouts, which allows free group video conferencing. Google Hangouts provides a way to hold virtual office hours, even for multiple students simultaneously. Video conferences can also be streamed and archived to a wider audience via Hangouts on Air.
Please be aware that Google+, including Google Hangouts, is not governed by BU’s main service agreement with Google; as a result, confidential information such as student grades and comments should not be shared over these services, even privately, without the student’s express written consent. Further information is available via the TechWeb page for Google Apps.
Turnitin, BU’s supported software for academic integrity and faster grading, has recently introduced a “Cloud Submit” feature that allows students to submit assignments directly from Google Drive or Dropbox, convenient for students who are working on collaborative assignments in Google Drive or who do not wish to pay for Microsoft Word.
We recommend accessing Turnitin through its Blackboard integration. To create an assignment that will work in Turnitin: in any of your Blackboard course’s content areas (“Assignments”) or the like, go to the Assessments menu and select Turnitin Assignment, and follow the instructions. You’ll then be able to see the assignment’s results by going to Course Tools in the lower left corner of the course and selecting Turnitin Assignments. If Turnitin Assignments doesn’t appear under Course Tools, you can turn it on by going to Customization.
Note that while students may use Dropbox to submit assignments to Turnitin, faculty should never return student grades or comments through Dropbox. Because BU has no service agreement with Dropbox, Dropbox does not count as a school official for purposes of FERPA, and sharing student records with
BU has made the core set of Google Apps available to faculty and students for classroom use. Among the apps with the most educational promise are: Google Drive (formerly Google Docs), which allows easy commenting on student papers and collaboration work among students; Google Forms, which provides a quick way to solicit and tabulate student feedback; and Appointment Slots, an easy way to schedule office hours with students. All BU students have their email accounts through Google, so they are all able to use any of these tools without having to sign up for any additional services.
Because BU has a service agreement with Google, comments and grades on student papers can be provided in BU Google Apps without violating FERPA policy. (Commenting on student work through unsupported third-party services, like Dropbox, is usually illegal under FERPA.) To make sure you stay within FERPA guidelines, we highly recommend that you create a BU Google account to use Google Apps for educational purposes (rather than a personal Google/Gmail account). To create one, go to our account creation page and follow the instructions. You can log into this account by entering your BU email address as a username and not entering a password; Google will redirect you to the regular BU Kerberos login screen.
When you’re logged into a Google Account, you can access Google Drive via the Drive button in the black toolbar at the top of the screen. From Google Drive, the “Create” button will allow you to create forms. To use Appointment Slots, follow the instructions here: go to Google Calendar in your BU account, click on an empty space and click on Appointment Slots.
In his course on investments, management professor Zvi Bodie uses student-created blogs. Students are grouped into teams, with each team creating a blog of its own. The blogs allow students to report quickly on current events in the world of finance, which the course teaches them to analyze. Student teams have made their blogs publicly available and some of them can be viewed here and here.
Prof. Bodie’s students use Google’s free blogging software, Blogger (which provides URLs in the blogspot.com domain). Similar (BU-supported) student blog functions will be available in the new Blackboard Learn system (aka Blackboard 9.1), available now to faculty wishing to use it in Spring 2012 courses.