Doctopus: A Digital Copy Machine and So Much More


Doctopus distributes personalized digital copies of assignments in Google Docs to students, allows for differentiating of instruction, facilitates providing feedback to students, provides more teacher control of student editing rights, and simplifies the management of student files by providing an index of links to individual student assignments. Use Doctopus after using gClassFolders to set up assignment folders for each of your students.

Student View

studentviewTeacher View

teacherviewDistribute Assignments

You can use Doctopus to make digital copies of an assignment and distribute those copies straight to individual student assignment folders in Google Docs. Students will not have to make a copy before editing the distributed file, nor will they need to name the file. The file will be named using the pattern you have set, for example: Garton Janetta Personal Narrative. No more hunting around  for a file that a student has shared with you. All assignments will be organized in individual student folders with appropriate file names.

Differentiate Instruction

When distributing the assignment, you have 4 choices:

  1. Individual-all the same: Distribute a copy of the same file to all students.
  2. Individual-differentiated: Distribute different files to different students.
  3. Project Groups: Distribute different files to different students based on group assignments, like Jigsaw.
  4. Whole class: Distribute one file to the entire class. All students edit the same file.

Additional Sharing Options

  • Add other teachers with editing rights.
  • Set permissions to allow all other students in the class to view or comment only on other students’ assignments. This allows for peer editing without requiring any sharing by the students. This permission can be set after the initial distribution.

Control Editing Rights, Access Student Assignments, and Provide Feedback

You can use Doctopus to assign grades and include feedback. Doctopus generates a spreadsheet for each assignment that lists students in one class period, and provides a clickable link to each student’s assignment file. It has a column to enter grades, and another for written feedback. It checks every 5 minutes for edits of student assignments, and shows the date/time of the last edit.

distribution ssTeachers can use the Doctopus menu to send personalized emails to each student in the spreadsheet that has their grade and contains the written feedback.

Initially the teacher is the owner all the assignments. Using the Doctopus menu, the teacher can temporarily remove the student’s editing rights. This could be used to prohibit students working beyond the due date. Teachers can also use the menu to transfer document ownership to students at the appropriate time.

docmenuYou can rerun any of the steps in the Doctopus menu at any time. For example, this would allow you to distribute the assignment to a new student.


  1. Set up folders for the distributed assignment.
  2. Upload or create your assignment template.
  3. Generate the Distribution Spreadsheet for this assignment and class period.
  4. Distribute the assignment.
  5. Repeat for the other class period using the same assignment template.
  6. Access students’ assignments that have been completed, entering scores in
  7. Distribution Spreadsheet
  8. Send scores and feedback to students.

This very detailed guide will lead you through the process of using Doctopus. Doctopus works with gClass Folders. This guide assumes that you have used gClass Folders to set up individual student and class folders.

My next post will be about using the Goobric, a feature in Doctopus that allows you attach a scoring guide to an assignment that you can use to score an assignment. Students will be able to view the completed scoring guide.