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Blackboard (if you must) and Google Drive

I am one of those instructors who hate Bb (I keep planning to write a post about why, but there's always something else that needs to get done). Nevertheless, sometimes I give into student demands and use Bb. And when that happens, I still try to work it into my preferred method of sharing documents with students-- Google Drive. After some trial and error, I've finally figured out the best way to do this.
  1. I create the syllabus/document whatever I want to share with students in Google Drive.
  2. Then, I publish the document to the web (File -> Publish to the web) and click "update automatically" if that's what you want to do. 
  3. When you publish the document to the web, Google provides you with a link and an embed code. Unfortunately, the embed code doesn't seem to work in Bb 9.1 (at least not at my institution). So a brief Google search turned up this website with the code below that seems to work. (Don't forget to use the url of your published document!).
<style type="text/css">#titleicon, #pageTitleText, #pageTitleDiv {display:none;}</style>
<iframe width="100%" height="1000" src="Paste the URL of your document here"></iframe>

BTW, I should point out a couple of things about Google Docs/Drive Privacy and "Publish to the web" options. A published document is a new document that is separate from your original document. The privacy options refer only to the original document in Google Drive. If you publish a document to the web, obviously anyone will be able to find it provided they have the link, but what they're looking at is really a copy of the document not the original document. What that means is that while they can see everything in the document, they won't be able to make changes, see who has access to it, who created it, etc. In contrast, if you allow someone access to your document by using the sharing options, you're essentially letting them see who created it, who collaborates on it, etc.-- it's like giving them the original document. Finally, documents that are set to private but also published to the web are NOT indexed by Google-- this is an important distinction if you don't want your documents to turn up in Google searches (which may sometimes be the case).

In many ways, I've found that keeping documents private, but publishing them to the web is the best way to go for sharing documents with students if you're don't need to have them edit documents or work in Google Docs.


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