I have started to teach a new subject this year: Digital leaders. It is an elective course (one of five) that the year ten students can choose from. It carries no qualification but should help prepare them for life in the digital age. As I only see the group once a week I thought that I would test their knowledge on all things Google to start with.
Google is most students first port of call when asked to complete a piece of home study or a research task but I have become increasingly concerned that, actually, the students do not know how to use it correctly and trust the results implicitly and never really stop to question what they are searching for or how they are going to search for it! Having completed my own GAFE test for Google search I consider myself competent at the very least but my students??????
I sent the students to Google’s own testing centre which can be found here. I asked the students to complete the lessons and then take the test. But being 15 years old they thought they already knew how to use Google so jumped the lessons and went straight to the tests (I wonder how many would do that with GCSE’s and save themselves two years!). The basic exam (level 1) tests the students’ ability to find information via its search engine. Some of the 20 questions would be impossible to know, but with a little bit of searching can easily be answered. And that is the whole point of a Google search test, whether it is the GAFE educators exam or this much more basic exam, use your knowledge of search to find the answers! So, how did the students do? Well, the first attempts managed to achieve 20-40%, and then the brain cells kick in. The brighter students started to listen to me and researched the questions and quickly increased their results to 70%, but still not the 80% needed for a pass! It took the pupils a minimum for 4 goes at the exam to achieve the pass rate and get their certificate. Some students ended up having to do the exam for Home Study (and over 10 goes) and one student will now be taking the exam in detention! This simple test opened up the students eyes, that perhaps they do not know everything there is to know about Google Search and perhaps they might even learn something useful in Digital leaders!
The second part of the students task was to upload their digital certificate to the Digital leaders stream on Google Classroom. For those of you that have no idea what I am talking about (!) Google classroom is Google’s attempt at the online classroom. Similar to Edmodo and basically copying GClass sheets, Google classroom allows a teacher to set up a class and via a code and allows students to join that classroom. The great thing about classroom is though that it seamlessly interacts with you Gdrive, sets up a classroom folder for the teacher which is linked to the classroom folder of all of the students in that classroom.
Once all of your students are in the “Room” you have the ability to chat to them via the stream. For any teacher of a long distance course this would be an amazing way of communicating with the students. The stream is continuous so that you can go back to the very beginning and edit comments if need be.
It is from the stream that you can also set an assignment. Simply click on the assignment button, classroom then gives you the option to name the assignment and give any instructions as well as attaching a GDoc, inserting a link, inserting a Youtube video or attaching a file to upload. These options give you the ability to set all manner of tasks from simple fill in the blank documents, to flip learning opportunities. Once you have set the assignment you can also put any supporting documents that the students might need in your templates folder, that classroom has automatically created in your classroom folder in your own GDrive. This allows all students to access the files without you having to email it out or give out paper copies. The students can then download the documents and then do with them as they need to.
To hand in the assignment the students simply go to the assignment in the stream and click on “turn in” this will then give them the option to include a link or upload a file. Once they hit submit, bang the assignment has been turned in and the teacher has a copy in their own GDrive folder under the assignment name, with the students name attached.
This really does have the potential to be an awesome bit of tech for those teachers that are willing to use it. Is it glitch free, no. Does it have all the items that it needs to have, no. But knowing Google, they are pretty good at listening to the forums and updates will arrive without warning. As a teacher, what I really want is a list of Assignments that I have set and a list of students that have turned in or not turned in each assignment. That way I can easily check what is going on and who is doing what.
But, I suppose what you have to remember is, this is a free product to all GAFE schools, ok Google is clearly testing it ready to launch with Business users in some manner or another but it is an amazing product with a lot of potential. When Google get round to updating it and taking on board all of the comments it will be the platform that every teacher will want to be using!
Please leave any questions below and I will reply!