We were asked to sort out a means of having members of the Learning Services team introduce themselves to each other in a digital way on the first day back to school. The workflow created may be helpful for those of you looking for a digital way for your students to tell you a bit about themselves, so I thought I would share it here.

The first step in the process is a template project in Explain Everything. The newest version of Explain Everything allows users with a subscription to add Placeholders (HWDSB teachers can get a subscription by reaching out to their Digital Integration Program Consultant). These blocks help to guide the user in contributing to your template in specific ways. You’ll notice in my template I’ve asked for my audience to upload a picture of themselves, and then add their job title, and the details of their portfolio. This could easily be tweaked to include information like interests, strengths and weaknesses, or information students would like you to know about.

In my case, I know that the adults contributing will be able to enter text in the requisite boxes; but the beauty of Explain Everything is the ability for students to record audio or video instead of text if they struggle to formulate ideas in text. The modality they use to contribute to the project will determine how they may need to get it back to you. I’m collecting my responses as an image submitted to Google Forms. Google Forms now has an Upload File functionality which will allow the audience to save their finalized work from Explain Everything as an image, and then submit it to a Google Form as an image. If your students are using rich media to share, you may be better off getting them to Airdrop the file to you, so you can open it up in Explain Everything.  You could also use an Assignments Dropbox in a Learning Management System (like The HWDSB HUB), or you could share the .explain file as a Google Classroom assignment.

I’ve taken this one step further and am using a Google Forms add-on called Forms Publisher to take the image from the Forms submission, to create a Google Doc from each submission. Because I’m collecting everyone’s name in the Google Form, I can use the <<Name>> token from Forms Publisher as the name of the document. This will create a folder in my Google Drive, with a separate document about each individual who submits an entry to the form. Each document will use An image of the Table of Contents menu in Google Docsthe Name field from the Form as the document name.

If I could find a script to take the contents of a Google Drive folder and merge all the documents in the folder together, I could create one document with all of the entries. That one document could use the Table of Contents functionality to create hyperlinked table to each user profile. That might be too many steps for something that should be a simple process.

Regardless, finding a means for your students to introduce themselves to you on the first day can be a great way for you to learn a bit more about your students (the picture can help you with names), while allowing them the chance to share something with you that they may not otherwise find an opportunity to share.

Edit. After sharing this last night I stumbled upon this tweet from @gcouros and thought I would create an additional template using these prompt questions.

In the spirit of UDL, I’ve omitted the text boxes and replaced them with audio recorder prompts, which should allow for greater access for all students (click to download):


Published by jarbenne

Jared Bennett is the Student Information System Consultant at Hamilton Wentworth District School Board.

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