John Martin

Interactive Digital Worksheets

Blog Post created by John Martin on Feb 24, 2020

Thoughts on embedding digital worksheets like this one?

One of the more clever Canvas / Google combinations, imho, is embedding documents. Besides saving paper, 

Advantages

  • Expandable! Paper documents have a finite amount of space. Even with margins set at 1/4" (not great on paper, but fine for Canvas with its built-in whitespace), you're limited in what you can share by your printing budget. Digital sheets can go on for far too long if you're not careful.
  • Links work! Click as hard as you want, the links on a paper document won't get you to any further information on a topic. Digital documents can lead students to many more places, and the students just click — no need to try to type in http://crazyhardlinktotryandtype-probablywithhardnumberstotranspose.com/anddefinitelyslashes
  • Input! You want students to work together to brainstorm? Seeing each other's ideas helps them generate more. A common digital document does that.
  • Ease! Embedded Google docs are easier to change than Canvas content. Once embedded, there's no opening Canvas to Edit, no deleting of old files or uploading of new ones, no saving, no waiting, no worrying that students might have the wrong version. The one they see is the one I want them to see.
  • Last-minute changes! Maybe this is a sub-point of "Ease" but because it's so easy to change, it's easy to correct errors that you caught minutes before (or during) your class.
  • Color! With our budget, color paper copies are a special treat, but with digital sheets I can get as crazy as I'd like.

 

Here's an example of one our documents. You can comment on it if you'd like, but I've set the sharing so only I can edit it:

Disadvantages

  • No Printer Smell! Some people really like the concrete tangibility of a paper copy. At our Active Teaching Labs (the embedded Activity Sheet here is from that program) we do print off 1 sheet for them. Notice that at the top of that sheet are easy-to-follow directions to the digital copy. We direct them to the digital copy so they can more actively participate in the session by clicking on the links that interest them, by sharing resources that they have, and by chatting (Google Docs chat) with other participants about the topic.
  • Control! Because embedded Google Docs can allow participants to actually participate, there's a chance that they will. That means they might want to take the discussion and focus to aspects of the topic that are more relevant to them than what want to blather on about. Giving students agency in their learning is not for the faint of heart.

Technical Tips

 

*ugly because it's more responsive (something to consider).

 

Your Thoughts?

I'll eat my hat if there aren't naysayers in this group. Tell me what I'm missing, how I'm wrong, why I should do something else or something differently. I'm here to learn from you! Thanks!

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