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EssayTagger is a web-based tool to help teachers grade essays faster.
But it is not an auto-grader.

This blog will cover EssayTagger's latest feature updates as well as musings on
education, policy, innovation, and preserving teachers' sanity.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

How to enable Google integration in EssayTagger

Student sign-in via Google apps accounts and Google Drive integration were released today as "beta" features that are ready for broader, real-world testing. If you'd like to try it out with your students, follow these simple instructions.

Google integration has passed all of our internal testing, but there's nothing like hordes of actual students to find the flaws or weak points in any new feature.

We'd love your help to test it out. I'd suggest trying it out on a small, mostly inconsequential assignment. Something like a one-paragraph journal entry or a short reflection on the day's reading would be ideal. That way if any students do run into problems signing in or linking their Drive accounts, it's not the end of the world.

Enabling Google integration
Google integration is configured at the course level. Log in to your EssayTagger account and scroll to the bottom of the Instructor Home screen to see your list of courses. Click on the "edit" link next to the desired course.

You'll see the new Google integration options with "Do not enable Google integration" selected as the default. When you click on "Enable Google integration" you'll see a new option roll out:

Require Google sign-in
The "require Google sign-in" option would force students to sign in with their Google apps accounts before they can submit any documents--regardless of whether the document will come from Drive or uploaded from their computer.

This is strongly recommended as it provides a much more consistent way to identify students as they submit their work. Obviously this option only makes sense if every single student has a Google apps account (which would be the norm for any school that has adopted Google apps).

Once you've made your selections, click "update course" to save your changes.

Note: You can deactivate Google integration at any time by returning to the Edit Course page.

What students see
The standard assignment upload page asks students for their name and class section. If Google integration is enabled, they'll see the new Google sign-in option prominently displayed:

If the "require Google sign-in" option is selected, students will only see the Google sign-in button:

The sign-in process
When students click on the "Sign in with Google account" button, the student will be routed to Google's authorization page. Google will first detect if the student is currently logged in to her Google apps account in the current browser session. If she had just been writing in Google Docs, the web browser will know that she's still logged in to her Google apps account.

But if she's not logged in, Google will prompt her:

Note that this login is happening on Google, not on EssayTagger. We do not receive the student's password.

Granting authorization
Once the student is logged in to her Google account, she'll then be asked to grant EssayTagger permission to "access" her Google account. "Access" is a bit of a misnomer; the only information EssayTagger receives is the student's email address and the fact that she is logged in. Google's authorization page explicitly states that "Google will share your email address with EssayTagger.com but not your password or any other personal information."

Check the "Remember this approval for the next 30 days" box to skip this screen next time.

Linking Google Drive account
EssayTagger will now need to request additional authorization (Drive authorization is separate from Google sign-in authorization). The student is automatically routed to Google's Drive authorization screen:

This authorization will only need to be completed once. After that Google and EssayTagger will remember that the student's Drive account has already been authorized and linked.

Once authorization is granted the student will be routed back to EssayTagger where we ask the student to confirm the information received from Google.

Pulling a document from Drive
Now that the authorization process is complete, the student will be able to click the "select document from Google Drive" button and select her document:

This will generate a popup that displays all of the documents in the student's Drive account. This is kind of amazingly awesome!

The student then just selects the desired document and clicks "Select". The selected document name will then appear and the student will be asked to click the checkmark to certify the academic honesty statement.

Then when the student clicks "Submit" EssayTagger will communicate directly with Google Drive and transfer the student's document into EssayTagger.

Signing out
Once the document has been transfered and processed, EssayTagger provides the student with a "sign out" button.

The "sign out" button will sign the student out of EssayTagger and also out of her Google apps account. This is an important security measure when students are in a computer lab or are using some other shared computer. Signing out prevents anyone else from accessing the student's Google apps account and also prevents other students from accidentally submitting an assignment to EssayTagger while signed in as the wrong student.

A note on document revisions
When a student submits a document to EssayTagger from their Google Drive account, EssayTagger grabs a copy of the document as it exists at that moment in time. If the student subsequently edits the document, the changes will not be propagated forward into EssayTagger's version. The student would have to re-submit their document in order for the changes to appear.

EssayTagger will accept multiple submissions from the same student for the same assignment. Each submission will be displayed to the instructor, sorted by submission date and time. It is up to the instructor to decide which submission to evaluate and which ones to ignore or delete.