Friday, 30 May 2014

Linking and Using Google Sites and Google Docs

Today in our MDTA training we learned how to make a screencast with sound.I chose to make my screencast about how I used Google Sites and Google Docs to help create an online, e-blended learning environment incorporating games, shared docs, videos, forms and spreadsheets, research on other sites, student reflections and the commenting feature on docs. My goal was for the doc to act as a learning log or folder for all of the students' working.

I was very excited about the site and doc but after a week I realised that it wasn't engaging the students as much as I had hoped. To add to this I was trialling the effect of 'learning' in class before moving on to the effects of 'creating.' The first week we used the doc was fairly content and online-activity heavy as I was trying to do the 'learning' in one block, leaving more time at the end of the unit for concentrated 'creating.' 

It quickly became clear that was not a great idea. Students NEED to do something with information. Passive learning - even if that passive learning involves online games and collaborative docs and competitive researching - is not as engaging for students.

I sought feedback from students on these tools for learning - they did not want to purely work online and in the doc all the time. Our conversations reminded me there is still a place for direct teaching and definitely a need for active and creative learning. 

I would use a doc like this again with a site, but I would make it more explicit to students that it is a record of their learning - a log. I would teach everyone how to take screenshots at the start of the unit. I would move slower through the online games and activities and ensure students write reflections beneath the screenshots of their learning. And I would get students to take photos of active learning activities and insert them into their docs with reflections too. Like a digital diary of their time in class. I think it would be even better if they could have a blog to share descriptions and explanations of their learning.

The link to my site is here.

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