Extending my Professional Learning
The choice to take on a course offered by Eduro Learning was an easy one. I knew the quality of course design would be innovative, the instructors were engaged and fellow international educators, and that what I was going to learn would be used the next time I saw my students. The Google Apps for Education class was both pedagogically practical and effectively manageable for a busy international teacher like myself.
The Eduro course is organized into 4 levels of mastery learning and thematically linked around tools within the Google toolbox. Content and skills are chunked into usable and differentiated groupings. This allowed me to interact with the curriculum in ways that were suitable to my prior knowledge of Google products. I was able to move through content I already knew and was able to share my prior, and new knowledge, with others on the G+ Community connected to the course. Effectively allowing knowledge, tips, and questions to become a back channel through thematic links in the G+Community. This proved to be a great reflective and learning experience. My one fault was one that I often found I moved through the content too quickly and didn’t take the time to correctly reflect on the content I was learning. This post is meant to be a summative reflection on what I have taken from the course.
What I think has been most compelling is the overall environment that Google creates for educators; the connected suite of well designed and easy to manage tools is outstanding. Being a Google Apps for Education user for fours years already, this course really hit home the transformative way it has changed how I interact with my students and what I can push my students to create.
Teaching with Google Apps has enabled me to:
- Keep track of my students blogging with other MS artists around the world through the use of Blogger and Google Sheets.
- Have students house, showcase, organize, and reflect on their work through the use of student portfolios in Sites.
- Communicate with parents, groups, teams, clubs and individual students with Gmail.
- Really collaborate with students in Docs. Providing immediate feedback!
These are not all things that I learned in this course. But, they are all things that I learned because I was curious about Google as a platform to enhance and streamline elements of students learning. Ultimately this is the crux of what this course is about – being curious and wanting to learn the systems that can enable our students to create great things. As an Art teacher I know there are times a piece of paper and a pencil work better than something written in a Google Doc, and that a Google Drawing is a far cry from a sketchbook. But, I know that Google Apps for Education and engaging with this platform is part of my teaching practice that I am unable to move away from, now that I am involved in it.
Another takeaway from the course is that learning to work within any system should be undertaken in steps or chunks and there needs to be time to try things out and test them in real life situations. Although this course is short in duration I appreciated that time was given to test elements of the Google universe. This being said I know for a fact that even after four years of using these tools a constant at Google is a high stock price and CHANGE! I know the hope is that educators will take what they experienced here and continue to try things out in their own classrooms. I know I will, Google is not the quick fix, it is part of the long paradigm shift. I wanted to take this course because I wanted to ensure I had the skills to use the systems that we use at my school. It is the same reason that I worked through a Bachelor of Education program, attend professional development regularly, and try and stay current with my own professional learning. For me, the Google Apps for Education class was meant to level the playing field with the beast that Google, and “Tech” in general can be seen as. I look forward to sharing my learning with others at my school through professional development days and a professional learning site I am part of at my school. Perhaps I can convince a few others of the importance of Google Literacy!
For those in need of further reading. Here are a few resources I have found incredibly useful when working with Google Apps for Education.