Using Google Apps in the Classroom

Please read my full article here: The Use of Chromebooks and Google Apps in Education

There are multiple reasons why we decided to head down the Chromebook and Google App path. While I do not wish to delve into all of these, some of them include:

  • Google Docs automatically Saves – having to remind students to save their work was horrendous, let alone the fallout when documents weren’t saved when the device crashed..
  • Searchable Drive – Needless to say, even if the student saved their work, there was no telling if they saved it in the right place, or that they could find it later where they saved it. Being able to search the Docs makes this easier, as well as the fact that each student has their own drive, and does not need to save into a Class Folder on a Windows Server somewhere.
  • Comments & Editing – By sharing their work with the teacher, teachers can provide almost instant feedback, that the students are able to view and address the next time they come to work on their work, or adjust while they are working.

From the outset, I encouraged students to share their work with me through my work email address. This enabled me to check on their progress of their publishing at the end of the day. It also established an expectation and some excitement as the students rose to this new responsibility of being able to email their teacher.

During my experimentation with Google Docs, I eventually realised that you can see others editing in real time. I already knew that I could comment on a document, but this new realisation enabled me to work with James on his Maths problems. I created a very short screencast of this process as it happened. Once again, this is timely feedback, with additional support and encouragement for a learner who otherwise struggled to remain on task, let alone be motivated to work at home.

Throughout the video I have made notes as to when I used any of these acts of teaching, and by the end of the three minute clip, I realised that each and every of the seven Deliberate Acts of Teaching had been used. It made me aware that not only had I just been helping a student out with some homework, but that the process had enabled me to offer some additional teaching with sound pedagogical base. Not only that, but by the end of this online session, James had completed the worksheet, and had shown how he accurately uses different strategies to solve subtraction problems. These are what we have currently been learning in class, but now they were being practised and solidified at home.

For a long time I saw the motivation of technology to be more of a surface feature that was more bells and whistles than anything worthwhile. By seeing the value of real-time feedback, the ability to provide next steps along with examples, all completed seamlessly while checking emails at home, it is impossible to ignore this as a viable learning possibility. The potential within Google Apps is difficult to comprehend, as more and more ideas are developed and utilized within the classroom. Teachers will need to find themselves not only having to be technologically savvy, but also technologically creative in the way they are able to use technology in their classroom; not just as a gimmick or a reward for early finishers, but as the foundation for further learning in any and every curriculum area. As we continue to move into a world where technology is becoming ever more integrated into everyday life, it is only fitting that schools become a place where this is not only enhanced, but innovated, and become places where tomorrow’s citizens begin their technological journey.