Monday, 20 October 2014

Using Google Apps for Education as a Learning Management System

A friend (secondary school teacher) wants to migrate from using Moodle as a learning managment system to GAFE. I am trying to think of ways that will make the transition painless, and also engaging and visually stimulating for the students. The school has effectively dropped access to Moodle and has moved to being a GAFE school.
So what are the main components of GAFE?  

  • Drive (storage and also the applications of docs, sheets, slides, drawings, and forms)
  • Blogger 
  • Sites 
  • Youtube 
  • Gmail 
  • Google Class 
  • Maps 
  • Calendar
  • Google + including Hangouts

Each of these components can be integrated with each other easily and there is a single sign on.

Google Drive is a great place to store and organise resources, documents, images and many different files and, with the added bonus of unlimited storage for GAFE school students and teachers, Google has effectively wiped the floor of other LMS's. As I see it, Google Class is the place to start in getting "the work" to students. I also think that Google Blogger could work in the same way, with the newest information on top, and it could be a lot more visually appealing. You see, you can embed videos into Blogger and students respond quickly to that stimulus.
Maybe she is better to work with a Google Site as that can really be made very attractive and a site can deliver the year's curricular content as a fait accompli for students to refer to as they need to complete assessments. I can also see Google Slides being a great way to present instructions and or content. Google+ groups would be great for her students (who are mainly over 13 years old) but Google Class allows students to submit completed work easily.  I do think that Google Forms can be used effectively for work submission (through sending the link to the work) as well.
There are so many tools available in GAFE, each with so much potential to do many different jobs for us. I also think I am maybe looking at this the wrong way. What if the students were involved in the design of her new course? It is so beneficial for students to create content and thereby create their own knowledge. The difficulty here could be that much of their year would be focused on learning to use the tools instead of the knowledge that they need for their NCEA assessments. I have a reasonable knowledge of all the Google tools available so it would be pretty easy for me to mix them up a bit, but for a beginner like my friend, there is a lot of learning to be done in all tools.
 This is my big picture thinking: Take a google site, build resources around all of the "must knows" on the site. Use Google Class to address day to day "what to do".  The calendar can be used to attach assignment work and give due dates.  Require students to write blogs on Blogger which reflect on what they have learned each lesson and check for learning. Ask students to demonstrate knowledge creation on Slides and Drawings.  Use Forms to gather feedback, formative and summative assessment.  Hangouts make great ways to break down the walls of the classroom.
Now, as well as that there are thousands of apps, addons and extensions that work with Google, but I think I will leave that lesson for another day.
Any other feedback and advice would be greatly appreciated.

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