Sunday, 14 April 2013

Body Systems #3 Introducing GoogleDocs to my class

Last year, our school server was already on its last legs. Being a decile 10 government funded school (with a government assumed middle-class clientele), we get the least funding of all deciles and are expected to raise what ever we need.
Problem is, when times are tough, its the middle class that get squeezed the hardest and there is very little money around. Resources are getting old and not keeping up with the demands of a modern education system. Such was the issue with our server. Perfectly adequate when installed, more recently it had been hopelessly underspec-ed for our current, never mind future needs.

Enter GoogleDocs.

Here were the immediate benefits as I saw them:
1) flat classroom - the documents could be accessed from anywhere, by the authors (students) and support (me and parents)
2) collaboration - peer to peer, child to parent, student to teacher
3) it is a private drive that can only be accessed by people with a password (your class)
4) reduces time wastage - students used is as a text upload space for conferencing, knowing that they would be using the content in a range of publishing options. This prevented time wastage by those students who waste valuable time playing with font, size and colour (intended for publishing - visual language) and have nothing of their document typed by the time their session expires.
5) auto-save, my favourite feature.
For more reasons, and next steps, check out the link to this post below:
At first, I managed it as I used to manage the traditional author's conference cycle. Remember those charts where students move their name card or peg around from planning and drafting through to publishing?

Last year I taught a Y4 class in a digital room (1:2 iMac:student ratio) but this year I have Y6 with a varied device structure (iMacs, Microsoft notebooks, iPads). And BYOD is on its way in the very near future.
All the more reason to work in the cloud, in apps that support any device. Our first go at using it this term (my class is completely new to this app) was as collaborative shared explanation writing about the digestive system. Within an afternoon we knocked out 5 paragraphs (1 per group) from note-taking, to note-making, drafting, sharing & feedback, revising, uploading and publishing on Wiki (with images and diagrams). Howzat for first-timers :)

This year our school is moving its staff accounts to Google  as well and we will start to explore Google Apps more vigorously. I have been asked to share to our staff  about my experiences with GoogleDocs for students, on Monday.

I would love to hear from you about how you use GoogleDocs with your students as well as in your professional capacity, at grass roots.

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