One of the courses I am doing for my Master of Educational Leadership this semester is ‘Learning Technologies in Practice’. I have been a keen educational technology practitioner for a number of years now, however, I don’t think we can ever stop learning in this area so I thought it was a good opportunity to continue developing and also share with colleagues as well. Something I have been really reflecting on of late, and how it fits into the classroom, is Google Apps. The DEC has released Google Apps to all NSW DEC schools (see previous blog post) and I think its fantastic, however, where do they fit into what DEC schools are currently doing?
I think I will focus my first EDCN865 assignment on a PBL-based unit of work that makes effective use of Google Apps as I really want to help my colleagues better understand how they can make use of these tools in their own classroom. The ability to be creative and collaborative is what I love the most about Google Apps. The apps are also one of the best ways to create/facilitate student-centred learning experiences. This is something I am extremely passionate about and really want to encourage more in classrooms. Teachers are so comfortable with the ‘chalk and talk’ method (or variations of), however, we are not doing our students any favours by spoon-feeding them with notes, lectures and wordy Powerpoint presentations.
Technologies such as Google Apps, afford educators the opportunity to provide differentiated learning experiences that are created and driven by students for the most part. Ownership and accountability for the work can be given to students too with the ability to track revision history in apps such as Google Docs. Problem- or project-based learning (PBL) is also the perfect platform to showcase this in. PBL is inquiry-based and student-centred and Google Apps provide students with the essential tools to independently manage this. So, this is where my thoughts are heading for my assignment, but also for how I want to encourage and work with my colleagues as school.
I have implementing Google Classroom with two of my Year 8 Visual Art classes who are completing a research task and I have been exploring the potential of this app as a learning management system substitute (albeit limited) because my current school does not utilise Moodle very much. I have found that students picked up the knowledge and skills of how to access the classroom very quickly and did not need very much, if any, further instructions on how to use the system. They were very good at following my instructions and navigating the app and it has been easy for me to access their assignments, comment and give marks back.