Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tool #4: Moving Up Into the Clouds

The tools in Google Apps foster time and space considerate collaboration in that they allow users to collaborate asynchronously. The nature of secondary level structure is not very conducive to consistent collaboration with colleagues that are more that 4 doors away on a daily basis. Four years ago 3 colleagues and I wrote a grant using MS Word, different color fonts, and e-mail to write the grant "together" because we did not have time to meet face-to-face. The constant saving, updating the file name, and attaching to e-mail, and e-mailing was a bit of a hassle and confusing. It seems that the Google Docs share feature eliminates the need to create documents collaboratively using e-mail or face-to-face meetings. Additionally, it is very difficult to lose changes to a Google Docs file because it keeps a running record of all changes to documents and allows reversion if needed.

Other Google Apps the seem classroom worthy;)

Gooru: At the moment this tool only offers math and science resources, but hopefully that will change in the near future. Teachers can create a "classroom" on this site which students can access and review teacher selected/customized resources. However, it seems that students can also access the site independently for self directed learning. The site offers content related quizzes. The quizzes are designed to present 1 question at a time and include a related picture and an answer explanation (option). Teachers can created content or concept related collections for each unit which can include uploaded videos. The feature I love the most about this site is that it allows teachers to upload a video and manually enter the start and end time for the video enabling students to only watch a particular clip. This feature is so easy to adjust that it could be adjusted daily so that the video clips focus on the instructional concept or content of a particular day. Not sure about using this for daily first instruction, but I think would be an effective tool for tutorials, remediation, and acceleration.

Lucidchart: This is a diagramming tool created in the spirit of asynchronous collaboration. Have just played with it a little, but I am in love with it. The video below will explain its function. I am envisioning students collaborating across the class periods to create diagrams such as mind maps, web diagrams, brainstorm charts, etc. Also, think it would be worthwhile and fun to link up with other educators and create a mind map with no real deadline. It could be reflective or innovative in topic focus, and the participants could add to the map as they learn, experience, and discover throughout the school year. It seems this type of collaboration or reflection could have a positive impact on student learning and educator effectiveness.

Simplebooklet: This free tool enables the creation of digital booklet. It seems that it is intended for business marketing, but some of its templates such as the tri-fold brochure can be used to create learning products. The products students create using this tool could be embedded in a student created Google Site (free tool). The Google Site could be a portfolio of student products and students could also be required to solicit peer feedback or peer editorial comments on their creations.

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