Intentional Teaching with Derek Bruff

Creating QR codes and short URL; generative AI and theologian trading cards

Published 2 months ago • 4 min read

Sharing Google Docs via QR Codes and Short URLs

I often take a birds' eye approach to teaching and learning here in the newsletter, but this week I'm getting down in the weeds. Twice in the last week I have had instructors ask me about ways to share Google documents so that students can collaborate on them in real-time during class. This is pretty easy to do and incredibly useful, but not that intuitive, so I'm guessing there are others out there who could benefit from some simple instructions.

First, load your Google document in your browser and click on that blue Share button in the upper left. Here's what you should see, using a Google Jamboard as an example, except that you'll see your Google account and not mine:

Under "General access," click on that dropdown that currently says "Restricted." Change that to "Anyone with the link." That will set your file so that anyone with the link to it can view the file. If you want your students to be able to edit the file, click on the dropdown that says "Viewer" and change it to "Editor." The sharing interface should look like this:

Now click "Copy link" and you'll get a link to the file in your clipboard. It will be long and full of characters, like this:

If you're teaching on Zoom, then you can just paste this link right in the text chat to give your students access to the file. If you're teaching in a physical classroom, you can email that link to your students ahead of time. If you'd rather not do that, however, there are a couple of other common ways to share a long link.

One way is to create a QR code from the link and display that QR code on screen during class. Students can then use their phones to scan the code and follow the associated link. There are lots of ways to create QR codes from links. ChatGPT 4 can even create a QR code for you from a link! One of my favorite ways is to use Adobe Express' QR code generator, but that requires an Adobe Creative Cloud account. I have one of those for other purposes, so that works great for me. Another way to create a QR code is to use your iPhone's built-in Shortcuts app. Educational developer Tolu Noah has a great set of instructions for doing just that.

However, sometimes I would rather students open a shared document on their laptops and not their phones. Often editing Google documents is much easier on a laptop. In that case, I'll make a short URL for the document. I like to use for this purpose, although bitly is another popular option. To use, go to and click the “Further options/custom URL” dropdown. Paste your long link in the main box and type a shorter, easier to type URL (like in the smaller box. Here's what that might look like:

Then click "Shorten!" and you'll get the shorter URL to share with your students. I'm pretty sure you need to come up with a short URL that hasn't already been used, so you might have to get a little creative here. The key is to make it simple enough that students can read and type it easily during class.

There you go! A couple of technologies I use all the time to make class go a little more smoothly.

Generative AI and Theologian Trading Cards

As part of the current slow ready of my 2019 book, Intentional Tech: Principles to Guide the Use of Educational Technology in College Teaching, I'm sharing a few resources with my Patreon supporters that are on theme for each week of the slow read.

This week, we're reading chapter five of the book, which is about using technology for multimodal assignments. For this week's bonus resource, I wanted to explore the roles that AI image generators (Midjourney, DALL-E, and the like) might play in multimodal assignments here in 2024.

To do that, I reached out to my wife, Emily Bruff, who is a marketing manager at Zondervan Academic. She just finished an interesting multimodal project supporting the release of a new book called Know the Theologians. In this interview, she shares her experience using an AI image generator to make theologian trading cards (Emily: “AI doesn’t think that women are theologians, apparently”), and we extrapolate from that experience to working with students using AI on an assignment.

You can listen to my conversation with Emily Bruff on my Patreon. Becoming a Patreon supporter is just $3 US per month, and it helps defray costs for the Intentional Teaching podcast and newsletter.

Intentional Tech Slow Read Week 6

The slow read continues next week (the week of February 26th) as we read chapter six ("Learning Communities") together. Here's the teaching principle for chapter six:

Structured ways for students to learn from and with each other can enhance the learning experience for all students.

And here are the discussion questions for chapter six:

  1. In which parts of your courses do you students struggle to participate well? What kind of scaffolding or instructions could you give them to help them learn how to participate effectively? (See, for example, the guidance I've given students for annotating course readings.)
  2. When we turn our courses into learning communities, it's important to remember that we're part of those communities. How have you created opportunities for your students to teach you things about your subject?
  3. When asking students to participate through short videos, how can you structure those activities so that students have good reasons for watching each other's videos?
  4. Social annotation can be a powerful way to create learning communities. (Listen to my 2022 interview with Remi Kalir to learn why!) What are some documents (text, video, audio) in your courses that would be interesting to have your students collaboratively annotate?
  5. In the chapter, I note that non-academic learning communities grow over time; they don't reset to zero every semester. What resources might your students contribute to that would be worth preserving and adding to by future cohorts of students?

You are invited to discuss these questions wherever you'd like, but especially on the Intentional Teaching Patreon.

Thanks for reading!

If you found this newsletter useful, please forward it to a colleague who might like it! That's one of the best ways you can support the work I'm doing here at Intentional Teaching.

Intentional Teaching with Derek Bruff

Welcome to the Intentional Teaching newsletter! I'm Derek Bruff, educator and author. The name of this newsletter is a reminder that we should be intentional in how we teach, but also in how we develop as teachers over time. I hope this newsletter will be a valuable part of your professional development as an educator.

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