|For the Quechua community in southwestern Bolivia, the reduction of the rainy season from five to two months and the flooding and erosion it brings result in a loss of crops and livestock.|
This is a joint post with Maren Deepwell (cross-posted here). If you have missed our earlier posts we encourage you to revisit the beginning of the story of how we, as senior staff, lead our organisation to adopt virtual operations.
This month we reflect on the first 3 months operating as a virtual team, delivering our first few big milestones and look back at the OER18 conference.
Maren: It’s been three months now since we transitioned to operating as a virtual team. Looking at the bigger picture, I feel we are on the right track [cue celebratory sounds here]. A lot of what we had planned and prepared for is working and with some of this year’s key deliverables successfully achieved, we have evidence that we are achieving what we need to. As an organisation we changed more than the way we operate over the past three months as we started to employ staff directly at the same time. For me, that part of the transition had to take priority over everything else. Payroll, pensions, tax and HR had to be in steady state, putting staff welfare, support and recruitment first. Those were the things I really worried about. So it’s a relief to have managed some of the biggest risks successfully and for more and more of the way we operate as a new employer to happen in steady state. When I reviewed our progress recently I realised that whilst I was focused on the transition, we have also made a lot of strategic progress – including delivering one of the largest events in our calendar, the OER18 Conference. What’s your perspective now that the event is successfully behind us?
Martin: For me, I was interested in how the runup to OER18 conference would work out. This was our first big event where the entire team were distributed. With multi-day events I think it’s hard to appreciate just how much goes into them if you haven’t organised one yourself. Even in a digital age various things need to go to print, you’ve got material and equipment that needs to be delivered and there are some practical things like getting conference badges prepared. As part of our distributed organisation we now have distributed resources which needs some extra logistical planning to bring together at the venue. Overall this aspect went well but one of our couriers let us down and failed to pickup a next day delivery. As it happens the pickup was for some extra banners which in the end we could get away with not taking. Fortunately the bulk of material was handled by our regular courier who we have a long standing relationship with. The challenge now for us as a distributed organisation is we need to develop relationships with additional service providers, either out of doing things differently or because we are all not in the same place. This takes time and effort which I think should be factored in if you are thinking about moving your organisation to a distributed or virtual structure. Has OER18 highlighted anything for you we should take a new approach on?
Maren: Yes, I think it has and it feels timely. The work on the conference felt like a useful way for us to pull together as a team and work together virtually. It helped highlight which parts of our new virtual set up are working well and it also made me realise how much has changed in a short space of time. Because the change has been strategic and welcome, it’s felt inspiring and positive overall, but we mustn’t forget that change takes time. Our expectations of what we want to achieve are high and sometimes I have to remind myself that it takes a lot of doing to put in place new ways of doing things. Doing something once isn’t enough. In my mind the kinds of considerations you are talking about, like building new relationships with suppliers, adapting what we do and how we do it, are helpful to me now – and to us as a team, but they wouldn’t have been a few months ago because there was no capacity to handle any more novelty. Now, when we evaluate the OER conference, I feel we have the capacity to put what we’ve learnt to good use in the run up for the next event. Another aspect of running an event as a distributed team I am thinking about is meeting up beforehand. For example, we had an evening to get ready this time, but not many hours at the venue. I feel this is particularly important for members of the team who are new and haven’t been part of delivering an event with us. As we are recruiting at the moment, I am considering that with new members of staff joining soon, ahead of a bigger conference I might value more time. What are your thoughts on this?
Martin: Interesting point about time considerations. Knowing our Annual Conference is our next big event where we have at least 4 times more delegates it’s going to be important to factor in some of the practicality of badge stuffing and conference material gathering. Something that I only considered after OER18 was that we could do more to distribute our printing, both in terms of when and where it is done. For example, as part of our move to a distributed organisation we limited the purchase of printers to just getting one for our Finance Officer. I already use Google Cloud Print at home, which essentially lets you turn any printer into a network printer. Adding our printer to Google Cloud Print would allow us to share the printer with our team. There is still a logistic issue of getting materials we print to events but at least they would be in one location where we also have access to a reliable courier. The occasional printing we do is however only a small part of event delivery and in the bigger picture it would be useful to revisit our conference plan to see what we can prepare earlier to remove some of the end loading, like batching badge production. Whilst the Cloud Printing is a small example I think it reflects what you were saying about a wider change in the organisation. It feels like we have more agility in how we approach and solve problems.
Maren: I agree with that. The first few months we had our preparations to build on and then the event to focus on, now we are moving on to the next phase: doing things differently, expanding (admin) support for virtual operations and updating our plans. The conference was a good catalyst to highlight the kind of questions you raise and also our skills and competencies and the gaps in them. One of the problems in Learning Technology I come across again and again is how to build a successful organisational culture when tech, expectations, milestones etc keep shifting. I relate to that in a different way now, because as you point out, we have a lot more scope now to be flexible, to solve problems creatively rather than having to work around them. We’ve committed to being more agile and I’m discovering what that means in practice for me as an individual, for us as a team and as an organisation all over again.
Martin: Noted computer pioneer Alan Kay uses a quote from ice-hockey player Wayne Gretzky “[a] good hockey player goes to where the puck is, [a] great hockey player goes to where the puck is going to be”. If a system is in steady state everything is predictable, removing this means as an organisation we have more control about deciding where we want to be. By creating an organisational culture where there is scope for not following the puck we become more comfortable in not being in steady state, as a result more confident in finding solutions to problems as they emerge. Something I think required to make this successful is an existing confidence within the team … success breeds success.
To begin with a disclaimer. This post has information related to the new EU GDPR regulations that comes into effect on the 25 May 2018 which might be of interest to Google Apps Script and Add-on developers. I’m not a Google employee, lawyer, or a data protection expert and I’m only sharing my interpretation of information I’ve gathered for your consideration and is not legal advice. As this is a complex area the post is in two parts. This part looks at key definitions to help you find out if your G Suite Add-on or Google Apps Script project needs to consider personal data protection. The second part identifies 12 steps you can take if your add-on processes personal data.
GDPR compliance isn’t just required by EU based organisations. Any ‘enterprise’ processing ‘personal data’ from EU citizens needs to be GDPR compliant or they can face “penalties of up to 4% of worldwide turnover or €20 million, whichever is higher”. This means if your add-on or Apps Script project has EU citizens using it you might need to comply with the GDPR.
Before going further let’s look at the definition of ‘personal data’ which is covered in Article 4(1):
So the first question you might want to ask yourself is does your add-on use any personal data. It is important to remember here that the definition of personal data is broad and can include data that has been hashed:
For example, within Google Apps Script you can use
Data controller/Data processor
Within the context of add-ons depending on how personal data is being used you might also be a ‘data processor’ and/or ‘data controller’. The UK ICO defines controllers and processors as:
The Irish Data Protection Commissioner provides further guidance on how to identify if you are a data controller:
For example, if your add-on or Apps Script project in some way lets you collect and store user email addresses you would be a data controller.
Let’s consider another example where you as a developer created a Google Sheets add-on which allows email addresses entered by the user to be used to send emails from their Gmail account. In this scenario the add-on only uses Google services available in Google Apps Script to programmatically read data from the user’s Google Sheet and send emails from the user’s Gmail account. At no point in this process would the developer have direct access to the user’s Google Sheet or Gmail account and this functionality would be entirely executed within Google services and servers. Is the developer the ‘data processor’?
I would argue that if at no point the developer accesses personal data entered by the user that they are not a ‘data processor’. The distinction is important because:
If your add-on interacts with the users data in a way that it’s accessible to you e.g. temporarily storing personal data like an email address in a Firebase Realtime Database, I would argue this does make you a ‘data processor’ and for data from EU citizens places GDPR requirements on you. But as mentioned I’m not a lawyer and you might want to seek further advice on that.
Enterprise and economic activity
You might argue that you provide your add-on for free or you are not incorporated as a legal entity so regardless of whether you are a data controller or processor you are exempt from the GDPR. Article 4(18) provides a definition of ‘enterprise’ which is:
Your next question might be what is defined as “economic activity”. Robert Madge writes on MyData:
So even if your add-on is free you are offering goods or services and therefore, with EU citizens, you need to be GDPR compliant. An exception to this is if processing is carried out by individuals purely for personal/household activities as covered in Recital 18, however, even if your add-on purely personal or household activity the GDPR still applies “to controllers or processors which provide the means for processing personal data for such personal or household activities”
If you’ve concluded from the information provided that your add-on is processing personal data from EU citizens you can find out 12 steps to take now.
As noted at the start I’m not a lawyer or a data protection expert so if you have any corrections or additional information please share in the comments or get in touch.
To begin with a disclaimer. This post contains information related to the new EU GDPR regulations that comes into effect on the 25 May 2018 which might be of interest to Google Apps Script and Add-on developers. I’m not a Google employee, lawyer, or a data protection expert and I’m only sharing my interpretation of information I’ve gathered for your consideration and is not legal advice. As this is a complex area the post is in two parts. This part is the second in the series. In part one I looked at key definitions to help you identify if your G Suite Add-on or Google Apps Script project needs to consider personal data protection. If from that post you concluded your add-on or Apps Script project needs to add personal data protection this post identifies 12 steps you can take now.
In the previous post I looked how GDPR provides “data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union” including data from EU citizens even if it is used outside the EU. One option is to avoid the GDPR by preventing EU citizens using it. You could do this by selecting the regions when you publish your add-on. One issue with this is not all EU countries are individually listed (Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta and Slovenia are not listed). I’m not sure if for example you just selected ‘United States’ this would prevent all EU citizens accessing your add-on. Another consideration is if you are updating publication settings for an existing add-on, does this prevent existing users from the EU from continuing to use your add-on?
Another option if you use personal data in your add-on is to use the GDPR as an opportunity to improve your data handling and transparency. A number of services based outside the EU have incorporated aspects of the GDPR in their privacy policies and working practices.
A good starting point is the UK ICO Preparing for the GDPR – 12 steps to take now (.pdf). The document contains more details on each of these steps and an annotated extract is contained below:
Preparing your add-on for GDPR – 12 steps
Hopefully this post is proving a useful starting point.
Information you hold
For the majority of add-ons I’d imagine the personal data is limited so this should take too long. For EU based developers this is something you should consider doing for your entire company.
Lawful basis for processing personal data
You should identify the lawful basis for your processing activity in the GDPR, document it and update your privacy notice to explain it.
The GDPR defines six lawful bases for processing personal data of which at least one has to be used when processing personal data from EU citizens:
In an add-on you may discover you need to handle lawful basis for the different types of personal data you use. For example, if you include Google Analytics or another tracking service to monitor your add-on usage you will probably require consent from the user, but if you have premium options in your add-on you may use a contract as lawful basis.
Within the context of add-ons and Apps Script projects in terms of lawful basis other than consent and contract you might want to spend time looking at ‘legitimate interest’. The UK ICO guidance on ‘legitimate interest’ states:
‘Legitimate interests’ can be conveyed in your user privacy notice and might be well suited to add-ons as you could argue that by installing and using the add-on there is reasonable expectation and compelling benefits. Using ‘legitimate interests’ comes with extra responsibilities including conducting and recording a legitimate interests assessment (LIA).
If using consent as a lawful basis for processing personal data you need to keep a record on an individual basis. The UK ICO note that “consent requires a positive opt-in. Don’t use pre-ticked boxes or any other method of default consent”.
Communicating privacy information
For existing add-ons you might want to use ‘legitimate interests’ as a lawful basis if you are processing personal data of existing users. The UK ICO’s guidance states:
The GDPR gives the following rights to EU citizens regarding personal data:
An important consideration is the lawful basis you choose for processing personal data affects the rights the user has to erasure, portability and objection summarized in the table below:
Subject access requests
The new timescale for subject access requests is one month. As noted in the UK ICO’s 12 steps:
This might be particularly important if you are developing add-ons for education.
With data breaches the UK ICO highlight that:
It appears breaches should be reported to the appropriate authority in your jurisdiction. As knowing who this is isn’t always straightforward to find out you should have this documented. For US based developers here is a Summary of U.S. State Data Breach Notification Statutes (the 72 hour window applies to EU citizens data, you may discover your jurisdiction has additional requirements).
Data Protection by Design and Data Protection Impact Assessments
At the heart of this is having in place the appropriate workflows and policies. Having documented workflows is useful as doing Data Protection Impact Assessments are not always required.
Data Protection Officers
If you are the sole developer this will be easy… Depending on the circumstances, including the country you are based in, you might have to formally register a data protection officer. In the case of the UK the ICO has a self-assessment tool.
A common myth with the GDPR is data about EU citizens can’t leave the EU. This is not true. The UK ICO guidance on the GDPR Chapter V requirements is:
Whether a country provides an adequate level of protection is decided by the European Commision:
In the case of transfers to the US this is on a company rather than country basis under the EU-US and Swiss-US Privacy Shield framework. Google is certified under the Privacy Shield so personal data on Google’s infrastructure should have the adequate level of protection. A consideration for developers is if your add-on sends personal data to other non-Google services is whether those services are in recognised countries or have been certified under the Privacy Shield.
Hopefully this post has highlighted some actionable steps you can take now. In writing this post both myself and Steve contacted Google asking for clarification for add-on developers. Unfortunately there has been no comment from Google, but you can learn more about how Google is committed to GDPR compliance across G Suite and Google Cloud Platform services.
As noted at the start I’m not a lawyer or a data protection expert so if you have any corrections or additional information please share in the comments or get in touch.
The GDPR is a big topic but sites like the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have lots of useful resources to help with the GDPR.
This is a joint post with Maren Deepwell (cross-posted here). If you have missed our earlier posts we encourage you to revisit the beginning of the story of how we, as senior staff, lead our organisation to adopt virtual operations.
This month we discuss our approach to GDPR, evolving virtual working practices and the importance of explaining the reasons for new procedures as part of implementing them.
Martin: GDPR has been a great opportunity to think about how as a team we store and process data. As a data controller one of the things we have implemented is documenting our data processing activities which includes how and where data is stored. Another critical aspect is how data is transferred. For our team this is greatly simplified by predominately being a Chromebook based organisation with centrally managed devices. This means we can mitigate a number of risks through device security policies and the build-in security features of Chrome OS. Another key aspect is we have a ‘home working’ rather than ‘remote working’ policy. This removes risks associated with regularly using open wifi networks in places like coffee shops, but does however leave open two questions: how do we ensure the security of home networks; and given a number of our team also travel maintaining security on the road. The process of preparing for GDPR has highlighted that there is more we can do to secure data transfer, the solution being investigating VPN options. Besides the technical solutions it’s also been useful to reflect on how the team is responding to personal responsibilities mentioned. In the case of GDPR it’s been great to see our team respond to the training we’ve provided and being proactive in both highlighting areas where our procedures can be improved and also suggesting or making the changes required themselves. Not being co-located removes some of the opportunities to get an idea of how someone is doing, for example, body language is largely filtered out in Google Hangouts. It was only when I reflected on this that I realised I’ve started relying on other indicators. Has our work around GDPR highlighted anything like this for you?
Martin: Another aspect of our GDPR implementation I’ve been reflecting on is the degree of visibility of our individual activity to each other. In the case of GDPR I put a lot of effort into researching what we were required to do as an organisation and understanding various aspects of the new regulations from a legal and practical perspective. Parts of this process left very few tangible outputs and in some cases some of the outputs were not suitable for circulation in the team. It was a reminder that it’s not always possible to share everything we do and a level of trust is required. It was also a reminder of why our weekly team meetings are so important and arguably more important than if we were working in a face-to-face setting. You mentioned that our ‘Show & Tell’ has recently focused on sharing how we each plan our work. It was interesting to see the diversity of approaches and the varying levels of detail that we each use. As my role is very diverse rather than having a single method I adapt my approach. For example, in the case of GDPR I’m using a mixture of our GDPR action plan in Google Documents and Sheets, Google Keep lists and managing my inbox with labels, stars/flags and snooze. For other projects like the Annual Conference we have a shared project plan we can all report our progress against. In the case of the Annual Conference this has changed little from when most of the team was office based. I think this still works well but wonder if we were creating this from scratch as a virtual team would you do something different, in particular, to increase the visibility of what we are all doing at a particular time?
Maren: I’d like to do that – spend time thinking about what starting from scratch would look like. I imagine that (1) our values, (2) the importance of working together with volunteers, our Members, and (3) our overall policies for working would remain constant. But… there are other factors: the size of the team means necessarily that many tasks are more independent and only some a consistent team effort. With 5-6 staff you can’t easily create sub-teams for example that would work together ‘more visibly’. I’ve also considered tools like Trello or Slack, but I’m not sure how well they’d work for everyone, and I feel allowing everyone a choice in which methods to use for organising work, e.g. what we shared in our to do list show & tell sessions, can really contribute to productivity. We have our overall operational plan which all other plans/lists are related to and in my mind that provides the consistency required – although maybe we could make use of it more frequently. Overall the high level of our output and achievement is a good indicator that our current practice is effective, and that is reassuring. What I mean to say is that we have an opportunity rather than having to reimagine what this could look like. Hearing you reflect on your perspective and comparing it to my own has opened up the question what this looks like for each of us. With a team away day coming up in a couple of weeks we could take the opportunity to dedicate some time to reflect on this as a group
Last time we discussed how we used GDPR as an opportunity to strengthen how we work as a virtual team. Since then we had our first face to face team day, an important milestone in creating a blended approach to running a virtual organisation.
Maren: The team day was followed the next day with the meeting of the Board of Trustees, in which for the first time all of our colleagues took part. I learnt a lot from both days: for example, I had to adjust my mindset from having a ‘team day out’ (which was previously the only time we would all travel somewhere together once a year to do some team building and have a meal together) to having a day working together. Whilst that may seem an obvious point to make, it’s an important distinction to communicate to everyone involved. The agenda we set out helped us prepare and be ready to focus on the task at hand. In order to make the most of team days we plan them in different locations. This time it included a site visit to the venue for our upcoming conference. Whilst combining activities like a site visit with a day working together face to face as a lot of advantages, having a changing location means that we need to sort out all the practicalities, like somewhere quiet to work or access to WiFi afresh each time. That’s a big change from having an office at which we convene and also means ensuring that we think about how to support the team as a group, taking into account individual needs. Some of the startup leaders I work with talk about how this degree of agility is difficult to make work in an equitable way and I found that the two days took more preparation than I had anticipated. As well as logistics, it is important that these days reflect our aims and values as an organisation. Inviting all staff to take part in the Board meeting is a good example of how we are trying to do this, but as well as time to work together, we also planned in time to eat and catch up informally and I felt those pockets of unstructured time were really important. This time, the Study, Museum of Manchester, became our work space for the day.
Martin: The opportunity to work in new places is a nice feature of our approach, particularly when they are as nice as the Study. Thinking about the practicalities some thoughts that came to mind are with a team of 5, soon growing to 6, we are perhaps at the limits of places where it is easy to just turn up and get a seat. If I’ve got time before/after events or meetings in Edinburgh I’ll often go to the Dome on Potterrow, or when in Glasgow the Saltire Centre. These are great spaces but get very busy at times and you’d struggle to get more than 6 people around the same table. There however seems to be an explosion of affordable hot desking and meeting spaces, in particular, as part of start-up hubs. As a membership organisation there is also perhaps opportunities to combine visiting some of our Organisational Members and have some space for a team meeting. Combining the two could be interesting as it would let other members of the team see what we do. I suppose the danger of such an approach is the site visit becomes a distraction from getting team business done. Something else that came out of our meeting which I hadn’t really considered before is while I was happy and able to get up and leave for Manchester at 4:30am this might not be possible for everyone (plus getting home after 11:30pm because of delayed flights ain’t fun). Raises interesting questions about equitability.
Maren: That’s true. As our team is distributed across the U.K. every location means longer travel times for someone. Achieving a balance between the flexibility of home working day to day and occasional travel whilst meeting our organisations’ needs can be a challenge. Organising the logistics is still a learning curve, but the other aspect I’d like to talk about is the actual work we did together. There were three parts to our day: first, the site visit which we all took part in and which helped us plan for the upcoming event. I think it was very useful to have everyone contribute ideas and ask questions on site and it saved us a lot of reporting back and another visit in the long run. Next, we spent some time together reviewing our project plan. We do review the plan regularly during our virtual team meetings, but it was insightful to do so in person as a team, seeing it projected on a big screen. For example, I noticed that we discussed more, asked more questions of each other. That continued when we spent time together working on different things after lunch. There was an opportunity for building rapport more informally that I hope will translate at least to some degree into our virtual collaboration. Two of our team had not met in person before, so that was an important function of the day, too.
Martin: I agree that it felt like there was more collaboration and communication when we were working together in the same room. I think this underlines that it’s important to recognise there are differences between working as a distributed team rather than in a shared physical space. Until we all have a holodeck in our homes I don’t see this changing but it also is a reminder that we need to think about distributed teams differently and not just faithfully recreate the physical space online. This was captured a post by Noello Daley on ‘What Co-located Teams Can Learn From Remote Teams’. In particular, Noello highlighted “the importance of shifting not only process, but mindset”. Noello goes on to say that you should “shift from a local, spoken culture to a global, written culture”. I think ALT had a strong global written culture before become a distributed organisation so perhaps the difference is less apparent to me. The process and mindset is an interesting area. There is inevitably disruption in becoming a distributed team and in some ways you want to minimise this to allow people to adapt to a new working environment, the tension as a manager you don’t always want to continue old processes either because they are less efficient or don’t work in the new model. One of the challenges is something else Noello highlighted was in distributed teams there needs to be “empathy for each others’ needs”. This is something we have touched upon already. I feel part of the solution is also touched upon by Noello and mirrors our own blended approach: “plan to get together about four times per year. Use that time to re-establish team goals and culture”. Given the Manchester trip was an opportunity to share our individual perspectives of goals achieved to our Trustees and the process for identifying those goals was collaborative I think we should be having more staff days around Board meetings.
Maren: I agree. Clearly our first attempt has highlighted how much potential these days have. But what about the day to day? Following on from the post by Noello you mention, I have been reflecting on how important it is to take some personal responsibility for what this recent article (found via @hopkinsdavid, thank you!) called ‘finding connection points’: the author suggests taking time to schedule regular lunches with co-workers, meet clients (Members, in our case) and getting involved in the community to ensure there is some face to face contact or at least time focused on building relationships. Some of this I would have previously thought about more in the context of CPD. As a small team we have long set up days to visit other organisations or Members to learn from and see how they do things, but in the context of operating as a virtual team, that’s taken on a different significance. Now it’s about making connecting with others an integral part of what we do as individuals, part of our professional practice. We can set an example and enable others, but to some extent it depends on how much an individual is willing to or interested in being part and contributing to that kind of working culture. Tech-focused solutions, like for example shared bookmarks, can help build a sense of shared space online. Yet it still depends on everyone contributing, everyone recognising the importance of working in a certain way and what benefits that has for us as a team and the organisation as a whole. In the last few hours of our team day we each prepared to talk to the Board about some key ways in which we have individually contributed to the success of the organisation in the past year and listening to that was probably the most powerful moment of the two days for me. We may not all be in the same place very often, but we are all part of the same vision and when we presented to each other I really felt that come across.
I recently did a Q&A session as a Hangouts On Air. As the recording is quite long I wanted to provide a quick way for people to jump to particular questions. Both YouTube and Google+ make this a lot easier by detecting time codes in your description or post text and converting them to links that take you to that part of the video.
You can just listen back to your YouTube clip and take a note of the timecodes you want to highlight, but I wanted a quicker way. One option is to download the subtitle file automatically generated by YouTube and scan the text to find the parts of your video you want to highlight. To make this easier for me I created a Google Sheets template where I can read through the subtitle text and create bookmarks at specific parts:
Making your own video jump list
You should now have a video description like this or a G+ post like this. As YouTube/Google have done all the hard work creating the hyperlinks in the text you can also copy/paste to other places, for example, this Google Sites page. As well as improving navigation to your YouTube video if metrics is your driver you’ll also get extra view hits each time a jump list item is used :).
I’m currently at Google Cloud Next ’18 avidly following the Google Apps Script and education related sessions, which I’ll try and capture in this tag.
Course Kit is going to be a suite of tools designed to help educators manage assignments using Google Docs within your existing VLE by using the LTI standard.
Course Kit is designed to remove some of the main points if instructors what to integrate Google Docs as part of assessments. With the LTI integration teachers don’t have to leave their VLE, being able to setup the assignment. Course Kit also extends the build-in functionality of Google Docs. At submission the learner is removed as an owner of the Google Doc but a copy of their submission is automatically copied to the students Google Drive. To easily move between submissions at the top of each Google Doc is a student dropdown switcher.
One of the biggest features is the modification to the existing Google Docs comments feature which enables you to quickly use a bank of canned feedback responses. This can either be used by starting a comment with a ‘#’ and typing a term which populates an autocomplete list. The feedback bank can be added to as you type or you can bulk import an existing list. Feedback comments can also we added from the sidebar.
Whilst the Google Doc is being graded the usual comment email notifications are disabled so the learner won’t see draft comments until the assignment is returned. As well as adding feedback to the Google Doc you can add a grade and any final comment. When the teacher returns the Google Doc to the student they are returned as an owner and this time a copy of the document with the feedback comments.
Course Kit has initially developed with Higher Education in mind and has been developed with input from some G Suite Edu customers and is now looking for more beta testers to join via g.co/coursekit. The video below gives a quick overview:
Course Kit is currently completely separate to Google Classroom, continuing Google’s trend of having duplicate products. My understanding is that Course Kit doesn’t work as a standalone product and needs the LTI integration within your VLE. As there are people already asking for similar features in Classroom it sounded likely that there would be some sort of integration at a later date. In terms of other feature request perhaps not surprising that plagiarism detection is already at the top of the list…
At Google Cloud Next ‘18 it was great to see and hear about a number of G Suite and Google Apps Script updates. In the past when I’ve presented on App Script a common question used to be what was the sustainability of the product. Given the continued investment in Google Apps Script and it’s integration within other Google products like AdSense, Data Studio and App Maker to name a few, the future looks very promising. There were also some impressive stats shared about Google Apps Script at Next: 3.3B weekly executions; 8.7M weekly end users; and 270K weekly developers.
Some of those 270K developers had the opportunity to meet-up at Next, many meeting face-to-face for the first time, as well as an opportunity to speak to some of the Googlers who are supporting Apps Script developers.
As part of Next ‘18 there were a number of sessions introducing and highlighting user stories, a summary of some of these have been highlighted in this list compiled by Wesley Chun and I’ve created a YouTube playlist of recorded sessions).
Getting up to speed – recent updates
If you have a look at the Google Apps Script release notes even before Next ‘18 there have been a number of recent updates which includes:
Other recent announcements include the Hangouts Chat Bots, which can be powered by Google Apps Script, were announced in February 2018, news of Calendar Add-ons broke in June 2018 and the Google Sheets Macro Recorder was launched in April 2018.
Launched and roadmap developments from Google Next ‘18
Announced at Next ‘18 were:
Announced as ‘coming soon’ were a number of core updates to Google Apps Script :
Apps Script Training Resources
As part of Next ‘18 the event was top and tailed with a number of boot camps including one on “Power your apps with Gmail, Google Drive, Calendar, Sheets, Slides and more”. The codelabs used as part of these is available for free from the following links:
There were other product updates announced at Next ‘18 and of particular interest are updates to Google Sheets which have been compiled in a post by Ben Collins. Overall the future of Google Apps Script looks very healthy…
We’re six months into our journey and in this special edition we look back at the highs and lows, share practical things we’ve learnt along the way and take our conversation from post to podcast to help us reflect and look ahead.
Maren: when you suggested that we share our experiences openly I wasn’t really sure what to expect. After six months, I find it’s become a valuable part of my practice. It acts as a regular prompt to reflect not only on my own work, but the team and the organisation’s progress; it’s made us set aside time to have a regular dialogue about important, but not urgent things; and it’s helped me find a voice to share more openly in a way I hadn’t done before. Also, on a practical level, a written conversation helps alleviate my tendency to interrupt someone before they are finished. Looking back at our first post one of the key things I’ve learnt is that this process itself, as well as the output, is important. I’d encourage anyone to build sufficient rapport and trust to try out a similar approach to collaborating. That said, I’ve also found aspects of it challenging! For example, trying to strike the right balance between sharing and respecting the boundaries of what can’t be shared has been difficult at times. Or deciding what to focus on, what might be useful to others. It’s quite a big risk to take to share leading a transition whilst it’s happening and I’m grateful that both the Board and the team have been supportive from the beginning.
Martin: The process of writing these posts has been very useful. The asynchronous nature of writing and opportunity to discuss our thoughts has created a space to reflect on where we are at and think about the future. Finding the right balance can be tricky. As part of ALT’s remit we are keen that as well as sharing the positive impact that technology has on learning and teaching that there is also an opportunity to share when things went wrong or didn’t work out. As you highlight as part of our transition it’s been important that we retain the trust and moral of the rest of the team. I should say that looking back over the last 6 months there have been no issues that haven’t been relatively easy to resolve. A challenge that came up in our February update was providing remote IT support. Overall we’ve had very few issues to deal with. Something at the back of my mind is our reliance on personal home broadband connections. Recently I changed by broadband provider. As I had overlapping contracts in terms of connectivity the change was seamless (the new WiFi router did however kill my home print server). Having checked the new providers broadband speed before signing up I was confident there wasn’t going to be any issues with speed. But what if there was an issue, or the connection can’t cope with the extra load from my daughter being at home during the school holidays? There is also the challenge of providing remote support when there is zero connectivity. We have some contingency plans in place for these situations but I think this is an area we can work more on over the next 6 months.
Maren: You are right, in the first few months we thought a lot about infrastructure, because that was the most practical aspect of making this transition. On an ongoing basis, too, with staffing changes, moving house etc, the infrastructure is always a priority. I can now travel with our phone system in my pocket, and we can take our “office” with us when we run large events so that the whole team can be on site rather than someone having to cover the physical office space. It’s a powerful transformation. In our post about March we started discussing more about supporting staff, collaborating and also how this way of working influences our work as Learning Technologists. Here are three examples of how virtual working has changed my professional practice as a Learning Technologist: first, technology fails at team meetings. We’ve talked about our weekly team meetings a lot and how they form a cornerstone of us working together effectively as a team. We have had all kinds of technology fails, individually and as a team, over the past year and I think it feels very similar to getting things wrong in front of a room full of students or colleagues and the experience has made me have much greater empathy with someone nervous to try something new. Secondly, I have a much greater appetite for finding technological solutions to problems we identify. Bringing all of our operations into the virtual domain and working together with our Trustees, Members and colleagues in the same blended way has created a real sense of opportunity to improve what we do and that in itself has been really exciting (although maybe my enthusiasm for doing things better did not need additional motivation). Last, and this relates directly to my role as a Line Manager, I think the quality of communication is more important than anything else I do and that shapes all aspects of my practice. Regardless of whether it’s a chat message, video call, email, phone call or indeed meeting up face to face, I work hard to communicate equally well in every mode. As a virtual team we have to cope with difficult conversations, bad days and unexpected crisis online. Communication has always been really important to me and to how I succeed, but I am developing new skills and strategies through our virtual way of working. It feels like we are creating an effective blend of processes, technology & culture to build resilience for the highs and lows that we face and communication is at the heart of that. It may seem obvious, but our work over the past six months has really expanded my horizons on what that means in practice.
Martin: Communication was something that came up in the May blog post. Whilst this was a busy time dealing with implementing GDPR we reflected on knowing how the team were coping and visibility when when working remotely. This month I attended Google Cloud Next ‘18, Google’s main conference for sharing what it’s doing in it’s cloud platforms including G Suite. G Suite is one of the core tools we use at ALT and has been invaluable in making it possible to work as a distributed team. Google use this event to launch new tools and enhancements to its products and from the sessions I attended improving communication was a strong theme, as one of the presenters put it “the ability to communicate effectively defines success”. In terms of what we discussed in May a new product that caught my eye was Hangouts Chat. This is a new version of Google’s chat tool similar to tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams. One of the features of Hangouts Chat is quick actions and reactions to messages. As part of this Google highlight emoji reactions “to build stronger, quicker and more expressive communications”:
I’ve mixed emotions about emoji’s, particularly in a work context. I don’t mind using some emoticons like 🙂 in messages but as I don’t like the emoji palette Google uses I’ve turned off the feature that automatically turning text emoticons to emojis (e.g. 🙂 -> ). Also given my own feelings about the Google emojis at times I feel reluctant to impose these on others, using as an emoticon I feel there is a degree of subtlety. Emoji’s or ?
Maren: I should probably start by saying that I don’t really use emoji much at all – neither at work nor in my personal communication. The person I text with most is my mother and she uses one emoji: little pink hearts at the end of a message. In her case that can mean anything from “thanks for taking me to the hospital today” to “sending you lots of love” to “take care and have a nice weekend”. I’m one of those people who mostly texts in full sentences with punctuation. That said, I have started using emoticons more in a work context since I started working as part of a distributed team. In chat, like Google chat such as we use for informal or immediate communications, I do find it useful to be able to convey my meaning in more than words. There are many instances when informal, but important conversations can be more nuanced – although that also depends on the person who i am chatting with and how well we know each other. Whilst in theory icon based communication should be more easily understood than words, I find that in practice most people I communicate with have very specific patterns in their use of icons and over time I learn what they mean. When I use tools like Slack for projects, I mainly use emoji such as to signal that I have seen a message, to show that I am participating or supporting something and for me that kind of interaction quickly becomes less meaningful. It’s like ‘likes’ or ‘hearts’ on social media. It’s useful, but limited. And I also dislike the Google chat and the iOS emoji palette even if they have become more diverse in recent years. Now, to answer your question: in a broader context, with a bigger user base and in contexts where being able to interact more, I’d probably say “Emoji? – ” – but in our immediate context of leading a distributed team, I think it’s .
That wraps up our written conversation for this month, but we are also experimenting with the format by recording a special podcast this time, reflecting a bit more on the six months since we started this project and talking about what’s ahead and where we hope to be by the end of the first year.
|Bolivia's National Museum of Archaeology has launched a project to reconstruct skulls from the pre-Columbian Tiahuanaco culture, in order to discover what the faces of people looked like who lived in the Bolivian Andes more than 3,000 years ago, the Culture and Tourism Ministry said. The museum ...|
|The project, which has become famous in other cities in Latin America like La Paz, Bolivia, will be a game-changing addition for a city in need of more public transport. But, as in cities like La Paz, the cable car system could also become a serious tourist attraction — a way to see the city from a very ...|
|The project, which uses 3D technology, is driven by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Bolivia. The Center of anthropological and archaeological research, administration of Tiwanaku provided these skulls for the investigation, together with other 150. Castedo explained that the procedure is carried ...|
|He explained that the reconstruction process, which done with the assistance from Bolivia's Ministry of Cultures and Tourism, begins with a chronometric study to take the measures of each skull and facial features. Next, liquid latex (rubber) is applied on the scalp to produce a replica in plaster ceramic ...|
|NAVARRE BEACH — Sweet Pea, the resident juvenile green sea turtle at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center, met with some international visitors Thursday afternoon. A handful of people from Bolivia visited the center as part of the U.S. Department of State International Visitor ...|
|HOLT — A group of Bolivian citizens visited the Blackwater River State Park Friday morning as part of the U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program. On Thursday, the group visited Gulf Islands National Sea Shore in Navarre. The goal of their trip to the area is to gain insight into ...|
|Federal Tourism Secretary Enrique de la Madrid said yesterday that the greatest challenge for Mexico's tourist destinations is to reduce crime levels. Los Cabos, La Paz and Cancún have also seen significant spikes in violent crime. Astudillo also said that he was in favor of a proposal put forward by ...|
|The Bolivian Ministry of Culture and Tourism began today the second version of the ReivindicArte-Bolivia program, an initiative consisting of taking public and ... Alanoca explained that ReivindicArte-Bolivia was born of the need to make people exercise their cultural rights and acquire knowledge and ...|
|Bolivia's economic profile is more diversified than the Venezuela's oil and gas- centric model and includes mining, tourism, agriculture, and more alongside some of the world's leading commodities. The Bolivian economic structure would benefit greatly from the return of the land in question through the ...|
|NUEVA VALENCIA, GUIMARAS—The first thing you notice about the coastal village of La Paz here is its unusual cleanliness. Sacks hang from bamboo fences for passersby to drop plastics, cigarette butts and other trash. Soda bottles are but colorful plastics on display but not strewn around.|
|La Paz's council and residents are to hold a soft launch of their tourism initiative, Himal-us Tours, by the end of April. The tour will start at 4 p.m. with snacks and a visit to Sitio Sumirib, the community center of La Paz. Before dinner, visitors will have several activity choices—check out local craft, recharge ...|
|The Mexican government's National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (CONANP) outlines and promotes environmental standards for the area; the citizen-run La Paz Waterkeepers prevent illegal fishing and other illicit behaviors; and tour operators like RED are investing in research, promoting ...|
|Some tours that are featured include the following: Italy's Treasures, Exploring South Africa: Victoria Falls and Botswana, Machu Picchu & The Galapagos Islands, Mysteries of India, Cultures of Peru and Bolivia, Journey through Southern France, Treasures of Egypt, Wonders of China and the Yangtze ...|
|The Joint European Strategy is dedicated to improving the lives for the Bolivian people in eight priority sectors, including culture and tourism, rural development and food security, integral development with coca and the fight against drug trafficking, education, governance, environment and climate ...|
|Bolivia, who has taken part in the Rally every year since 2014 has experienced a rise in positive tourism due to the race, but La Razon explained that ...|
|He pointed out that the Tourism Security and Justice Bureau for La Paz and Los Cabos had specific goals, clear routes and addressed issues in a ...|
|However, violent crime has affected some of Mexico's most popular tourism hotspots, such as Los Cabos and La Paz in Baja California Sur and ...|
|The ceremony was attended by Bolivian President Evo Morales, who ... and hydrocarbons, as well as other complementary sectors such as tourism.|
|SERDANG: The Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (Matta) Fair ... spot with the same wonder in Bolivia," he said adding that such wonders needed more ... "In 2016, Tourism Malaysia recorded 66 million domestic tourists ...|
|Despite a surge of violent crimes in popular tourist areas such as Los ... Tourists take pictures on a pier in La Paz, Baja California Sur state, Mexico on ...|
|SAN BUENAVENTURA, Bolivia – The Tacana people, denizens of Madidi National Park, located in the heart of Bolivia's Amazon region, are betting ...|
|The project cost US$84 million to carry out and is of importance to Bolivia, as it will improve transport connections and improve trade and tourism in the ...|
|Skip Becker of the La Paz Economic Development Corporation and Mary Hamilton of the Parker Regional Chamber of Commerce & Tourism ...|
|Visitor numbers to La Paz and Loreto grew by 12% and 26% respectively last year but the number of hotel rooms only increased by 2% in the former ...|
|Interview: Bolivian president's China visit to spur bilateral ties: Chinese ... From last year, Bolivia began issuing visas to Chinese tourists on arrival, ...|
|China hopes to work with Bolivia to seize the new opportunities for the ... as economic and trade, tourism and culture, and increase imports of Bolivia's ...|
|BEIJING – Bolivian President Evo Morales and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang agreed to boost bilateral cooperation with the aim of increasing imports of ...|
|Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic has announced the inaugural voyages for the newest addition to the company's fleet, National Geographic ...|
|But only recently has the Bolivian Ministry of Tourism decided it will take some measures to protect both the image and the sanctuary, to prevent the ...|
|Bolivian Vice Tourism Minister Ricardo Cox told Xinhua that the project is expected to directly benefit 13 municipalities around the lake with income ...|
|British Ambassador to Bolivia James Thornton said the pilot system was installed in La Paz's “tourism heart” for the benefit not only of visitors but of ...|
|Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias will depart for La Paz, Bolivia, ... Bolivia is hosting the event after Athens first organized it in April, last year, with ...|
|The forum was sponsored by the Parker Regional Chamber of Commerce and Tourism and was held at the Parker Community/Senior Center. La Paz ...|
|That seclusion from mainstream tourism is part of what sets Bolivia's peaks apart from other destinations in South America's Andes, which stretch from ...|
|All the way down the cobbled streets of Potosi in the south of Bolivia were tour companies advertising adventures into the labyrinth of silver mines in ...|
|The nation expects 4.4m tourists to bring $5bn into its economy this year ... Mosquera is now planning expansion to offer tourism services in Bolivia.|
|Tessier was sponsored by a French association that provides assistance to the blind, as well as by the Bolivian tourism agency Alma Turismo.|
|The other contestants entering the top six included representatives from Chile, Hong Kong (China), Thailand, Bolivia and Mongolia. The first runner-up ...|
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