Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Doctopus 101

Doctopus: Making sharing documents easier


Do you want a clear way to organize student Google documents and a way to easily share and create documents for students? Try Doctopus, one of Google’s many Apps Scripts.

How does it work?

  • Simply create a template that you would like shared with your students.
  • Then, make a corresponding spreadsheet so you can see all of your students’ documents in one place.
  • Lastly, install and run the Doctopus script.
  • That’s it!


  • Make a template in Google Drive (this is the file that will be replicated and shared amongst your students and/or groups). If you want a different template for each group, you can make more than one template.

    • Save the file in a folder titled “Doctopus.”
  • Then, create a spreadsheet with the following columns (you may also copy and paste your roster into the spreadsheet, but verify it at least has these columns):
    • Student name
    • Student email address (this is necessary for sharing purposes)
    • Group (this is important if you want to share documents by groups so that students can only edit/view the document assigned to their group)
    • Folder (**This is optional and is used only if you have created folders within your Google Drive for your students and/or their groups. If this feature is used, Doctopus will auto-create the files and place them in the folders listed here)

  • Next, install the Doctopus Script:
    • Go to Tools-->Script Gallery

  • In the search box, type in Doctopus (if you don’t see it already)

  • When you see it, click on “Install”
  • After it installs, a new screen will pop-up asking if you want to authorize it. Say “OK.” Then, “close” the window.

  • Now, you should see a Doctopus tab in your spreadsheet.

  • Now, you can launch/run Doctopus:
    • Click on the Doctopus tab across the top and Select Launch installation

  • This will bring you to step 1: sharing basics. Select how you want to share it (individually, project groups, etc.)

  • Select the “whole class” and “group” permissions.

  • Then, decide if you want to add any teachers or others to the permissions.

  • Verify that the spreadsheet selected contains the student information.

  • If you have made individual folders for your students, click on the portion that says “my students have individual folders.:
  • Then, click “Save Settings”

  • You are now in Step 2: Choose with documents to copy and to distribute.
  • Select the folder where your template is stored (remember to have select the “doctopus” folder that you created earlier.

  • Then, choose which template you’ll assign to each group (if you chose the project groups sharing option).

  • Click “Save Settings.”
  • You are now in Step 3: Choose a destination folder...
  • If you did not select “make files in already created folders” in step 1, you will need to select which folder to create the documents in OR you can create a folder from this menu. Be sure to click on the “Create folder named” button if you choose to create a folder at this time.

  • Now, ,you can choose how you want your documents named and if you want people to be notified with the documents are created and shared with them. Notice the tags in this menu as well. You’ll need them later.

  • If you select the “notify document EDITORS” option, you will be able to customize the email message that is sent to them. You can choose the recipients (it will default to the right one), the email subject, and the body of the message. For any of the options, you can use the blue variables or any plain text.

  • Click “Save Settings.”
  • You are now in your final Step 4: Run and Share documents
  • Review your information. Then, click on the “run copy and share” button.

  • If you go into your Google Drive, you should see the newly created documents. If you chose to email recipients, they will be receiving an email now as well.
  • You will receive a note if it is successful:

  • Now, if you choose to use a different template, you can go back to your Doctopus tab in this spreadsheet and choose a different template. No need to recreate the spreadsheet again. Check out some of the other options available from the Doctopus tab:

  • Looking at your spreadsheet, you will notice the new items Doctopus added to your spreadsheet. DO NOT DELETE THESE OR TAMPER WITH THESE. These new columns include:

  • If you notice the Grade and Written Feedback columns--you can type in that information here. Using the Doctopus menu, you can select for that information to be sent back to the students when you are done. It means you do not need to send out a ton of emails anymore!

Ready to start?!

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