Since moving to Google Apps For Education I have found myself continually satisfied with how the tools interact and the collaborative nature of them to comment and support students whilst they are working on their task. The tools I use and how I effectively use them to manage my work flow are:
Email: To connect with the students and share information directly to individuals as required.
Sites: I have developed an ICT site which I use for curriculum delivery and provide access to extra resources that support learning. In the Course work I embed a Doc which I update each week with the new tasks for the class.
Forms: I use these in a number of different ways. At the beginning of the year I used them to gain information about what the students thought they would do in ICT and what they would like to do. I also gathered the information necessary to set up their Google Apps accounts through the spreadsheet (responses) that are automatically gathered in live time when responses are submitted. I have also used this feature to gather links to student work in an organised manner with student name class and a direct link to the document they have shared with me.
Docs/Presentation: These are the tools mostly used by the students to complete their tasks. The tools are great as they are very similar to the functions of Microsoft Office tools with the added benefit of the sharing feature. This sharing feature has enabled me to support students from a distance (especially students who don’t want the class to know they are getting extra support) and give real-time feedback through editing and comments to the students. I have also been very impressed with the ‘see revision history’ feature where all collaborators are able to be tracked and restored if something goes wrong.
Calendar: Another great tool that integrates with the site to remind students of tasks upcoming and due dates. A great organisational tool to teach students time management and organisation skills.
Other online tools I have had great success with this year are the URL shorteners including bit.ly this tool enables me to give my students a short customised address to enter rather than the long original strings of letters and numbers. This reduces the chance of error and increase time on the tasks.
Hangouts: I have use these with the students to communicate to a group of students in Charlotte, North Carolina. The students In Charlotte posed some questions and a group of delegated students participated in talking via a Google Hangout to share the answers and information about Australia. The integration with YouTube allowed a recording to be made to share with the students who were unable to participate.
Talk: Although this is not a feature of collaboration that I have shown the students many have picked this up through their own personal experiences and used it as a productive communication tool during class time.
Prezi has been a very smooth tool as an alternative to the traditional “PowerPoint” or Presentation as it gives the developer a different way to share the information, although I have had some students who do still prefer the traditional tools.
These online collaborative tools are only a few but very worth the time to get to know them as I have found since using these my workflow has improved and I have access to student work for assessment at all times. Since changing over to this I have increased submitted work from approximately 60% of all assessment tasks to 95+% which enables me to support my students better, which enables them to achieve greater academic results whilst learning to manage themselves online and work collaboratively.
If you want to know more about these tools, share how you use tools in your practices, or how I use them for workflow and productivity please don’t hesitate to pop a comment below.