There are two important distinctions between publishing and providing a public link to your Google Drive files.
Publishing can only occur with Google files (docs/sheets/slides).
Publishing does not provide access to the original file. Rather, a webpage is created that displays the content of the original Google file.
So publishing serves the purpose that naturally arises from the distinctions above; you can provide a public viewing of content from a Google file. Let’s look at how this can be beneficial in our classrooms!
Publishing certain results from a Google Form
Sometimes you may want to publish some, but not all, of the results from a Google Form. For example, you gather information from your student's parents about what types of dishes they will bring to a grade level cookout. It might be valuable to make public the list of dishes that will be brought, but the names of who will bring them are not necessary for people to know. By publishing only certain tabs from a Google Sheet, or by hiding certain columns in a Sheet, you can be public where it is useful, and private where you need to be. By the way, you may be collecting names or email addresses in the first place in order to better communicate with individual parents.
This published Google Sheet shows contact information from participants who attended the STEM EdCamp on Oct. 3rd. Because published files automatically update, no extra work needed to be done by the organizers to display this information. Participants just chose to fill out a Google Form (important to note that this was their choice, and they were aware beforehand of the posting of this information), and then the results were gathered and shared automatically! Also note that I hid the Timestamp column in this instance because that information was not necessary for anyone to view.
Better Communication During Events
In a Teacher's Corner post last year, we outlined how IMEA competitions were streamlined by the use of published Google Sheets. Take a look at that post here, and imagine other ways in which you can make your events more efficient by using this new functionality!
Publish Your “Assignment Notebook”
Building off of the example of Sharing a Public Link to an "assignment notebook" that was talked about in Pt. 2 of this series, you could also publish a version of the same type of Google Doc. This can then be linked too, or embedded into a website such as SchoolWires. Now this published file will be completely uneditable, and will automatically update whenever changes are made to the original Google doc.
Another example of this can be seen on the STEM EdCamp page where we created a schedule and links to session notes.
Make Your Presentations Visible to Parents
If you are using Google Slides to create presentations, you can publish those presentations so that they are visible by the public (read: parents). Here's an example of what I mean.
Sean Mullins | Instructional Technology Coach