Monday, February 9, 2015

Manage Your Internships with Help from Google

It can be easy to understand why the benchmark for high school education is students in school from eight to three, five days a week. All one has to do to see the allure of this time-honored, one-size-fits-all model,  is to simply try to manage something like students learning off campus. How do you support students searching for out-of-school experiences? Just the management of possible internship sites can be a huge challenge. Schools that have internship sites often keep track of them with excel spreadsheets. While this may be effective for 20 or 30 businesses, a truly effective "Learning Through Internship" model typically needs hundreds of active sites - not to mention the value of including businesses in your dataset that do not want internship (to prevent you or your students calling them repeatedly to ask for internships.) How does that excel spreadsheet get sent to students in a live platform? How does it provide engaging tools for students to search based on their passions and interests?

But with a little creativity and the foundation of Google Apps for Education, you can have a cloud based database solution for keeping track of the organizations in your community.

Google Fusion Tables

In addition to the many well known services that google provides (yup... search, gmail, gcal, drive, etc) there are several lesser-known apps that google provides for free to schools. Google Fusion Tables is one of the most powerful of these apps.* While it has some of the functionality of a basic spreadsheet (without the power of formulas), it is not a spreadsheet at all. Fusion is a cloud database for storing large amounts of information in a way that is readily accessible.

Building a database of your internship sites on Google Fusion is pretty straightforward. It has the ability for students to build and store custom searches, and gives them real-time access to the latest internship sites. And... there is the added power of map based searches. Students can filter the sites in your dataset and view them on a map. They can, for example, not just search for auto mechanic shops, but see the shops that are available in their neighborhood!

Let the Workflow Begin.....

Next, with a bit of html (which I am happy to help you with), you can build in a "Request to Pursue" link into your Fusion Table. When students request a site, that information will be automatically populated into a Google Form, then on to a spreadsheet.  From there... with a little help from a terrific Google Add-On called FormMule, you can automate the process of approving or denying sites and sending a custom email back to the student, thereby completing the process of students requesting sites.

Lost me yet....... Well, perhaps this video will help.

Please let us know if you would like Big Picture Learning to set up a Google based internship management system for you! Don't let data management stand in the way of building a vibrant internship learning environment at your school.

*talk to your GApps administrator on campus, Fusion tables is probably not enabled in your domain and your administrator may need to request free access for your school from Google.

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