August 3, 2011
This Semester, I began a new experiment in the use of digital technology in the classroom. At the beginning of this class, I decided that students would open a Google Docs account. I stressed the point that if they already had a Gmail account they might consider having a separate account just for class. Why use Google, and not what the university provides. First, I am an adjunct and the systems such as blackboard can be intimidating for students young and old. That and it is not always easy to remotely connect. Secondly, as an adjunct, I felt that it was a way to have a semi-closed community for class. In this manner, an adjunct could share with the class power point presentations, and other assignments without the worry of cross pollution in other classes. Finally,it provided a way for students to present their materials in a timely manner and not worry about losing their assignments.
One of the main reasons I chose to use Google was its simplicity. Google easily integrates all the services for the student and the instructor. At the beginning of the class, I stated that students must have a Google account, and that all materials submitted in writing in class must also be uploaded and shared with me via Google docs. This allows the instructor to offer criticism on writing assignments in a timely manner and keeps the privacy of both student and instructor intact. For some students who may issues with technology, it is important to put students at ease right from the beginning to reassure students that they will be submitting their papers both online and in class. As time progresses, this may not need to be the case. One must also emphasize that students need to write their papers and save them as either a word doc or a pdf file to allow the up load in Google to convert their papers to the Google formant without changing any of the format.
Secondly, as the instructor, one has the control of access to documents that you create. Hence, students need to understand that if they want feed back they will need to share their documents with you and allow the instructor editing privileges. In addition, group assignments can be presented and shared among students. For the history class, students had to write several questions for discussion sessions to be given over specific chapters of the book. Hence, I created a Google Doc that would have the questions written upon and then shared that document with the designated students. This offered the ease of students writing their questions as they read the chapters in question and eliminated the need for a turning in a separate piece of paper. At grading time it was also easier to make sure that students had followed through with assignments. It also allowed students to coordinate their material for their designated discussion. This allows students more time to develop questions and less time they feel they need to meet with other group members. It also allows instructors to gage the amount of work each group member places on the project at hand.
in the end, the instructor has the ease of control under the Google system. It had a friendlier interface for students and appears less complicated that institutional systems. Instructors can share their PowerPoint presentations with students both in class and after. in this manner, students can review the presented materials in class along with their notes. Also, if a student misses a class, the power points can help students catch up quicker. At the same time, instructors can give feedback on materials such as course papers and exams. Indeed, one can share comments with students on their paper and keep those comments private between instructor and student. And, if you have very bad writing, it allows students to read your comments, whether they want to or not.
in the end, I find that the Google system had great potential for class. I highly recommend its use and the use of the new Google plus part of the account. This will have some use in classes the require social interaction and research on current events and historical materials. This is the next test. Nevertheless, the system as it stands presents a good method to provide good material to students, and allow students the ease of turning in assignments with little worry that they will get lost. At the same time, it provides students a good way to interact between student and instructor. Students can chat with the professor online, get feedback on written assignments and offer easier access to the instructor. For adjuncts, I think this is a great way to interact with students and put them at ease with technology.Author : mikegreen40