The best way to revise with Google

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This post was written by Andy Waters @peorbust.

As we quickly enter the silly season of revision, revision and more revision I wanted to share with you in this post the best way in which you can use Google Apps for Education to make revision more accessible to the masses.
Don’t get me wrong, revision is still revision and the students will have to put the time and effort in. But, in this electronic age should we still be encouraging students to write out flashcards or mind maps? I understand that the physical act of writing helps some students with the remembering process but what about the auditory or visual learners? Where are their needs met in this time honoured tradition? And why are we suddenly ignoring the mobile device that we have started to encourage into the classroom. With the personal electronic device and the Google Apps for Education suite a whole new world of revision opens up:

Flash cards! But not as you know them….

Ok, so that seems a bit strange after the opening paragraph but give me a chance and I will show you how much difference there is between the old and new style of flashcards.

Firstly, you need to go to flippity.net and download the template to make your own flashcards. There are some Google templates but none of them have the same functionality as the flippity template. Once you have got the template, save it in your Google drive with an appropriate name.

Secondly, open the template that you have renamed and start to enter your information. Column A becomes the question and Column B the answer. This will work for every subject where facts are required! You can also see that as this is an electronic flashcard that will be displayed on a personal device you can include pictures or diagrams and more importantly videos. This multimedia approach opens a whole new world for student’s revision and importantly ticks all of the boxes for visual and auditory learners! In a set of cards I am currently making I have used an exam question on the front of the card and then an explanation video of the exam question on the back. This allows the students to see the method that examiners will expect to see and to see the correct answer as well. You can also alter the colour of the flash card and the text colour and for some learners this is incredible important!

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Finally, once you have all of the information you want you need to go to File and Publish to the web. This will generate a web address for the spreadsheet. Copy the web address (remember to use Ctrl and C to copy and Ctrl V to paste if you do not have the Google Drive web app downloaded!) and go to the second tab on the spread sheet “get link here”. It is quite self-explanatory at this point but…. You paste the web address into the indicated green box and then click on the cell “A6” and a web address will appear just above it. Click on this link and it will take you to flippity.net and your flashcards.

Now that you have created your flash cards you have a few options. You can scroll through them as written or randomly and look at the answers after you have seen the question. You can also listen to the questions. There are no options to adjust the speed or accent of the voice as it reads out the information and this might irritate some, but simply mute it and all will be fine. The tabs above the flashcards allow you to see the list of questions, although not alter them, produce a word cloud (if appropriate) and to print off a quiz based on the questions.

There are 2 more features that I love and will make your life so much easier as a teacher. The first feature that makes this so special is the ability to share the cards. You have multiply options as you would expect but also ones you wouldn’t . QR codes are really versatile and putting one up in your classroom or around the school would allow most pupils access to them. If you want to try this out scan the code below and have a look at the basic Geometry flashcards I have started to create for my students.

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The other share feature I really like is sharing straight to Google classroom. It allows you to share with your whole class by sending out the link as an announcement which all students can then follow to flippity.net and thus to the cards.

The second feature which makes this very versatile is the ability to update the cards very easily from your Google spreadsheet. If you want to add more cards over time you simply add the information as previously described republish to the web and then follow the link to flippity. You do not have to re copy and paste the web address. This then updates all of the cards on flippity, and if you have already shared these with students they will then get the up-dated version!

I can see this working one of 3 ways, either the teacher produces a class set of revision cards and publishes and shares them, a class work together on a shared spreadsheet to produce the cards and then share them amongst themselves or individuals produce the flashcards on their own. It could, of course, be a combination of all three with the teaching starting the sheet, all the class editing it the majority of the information and then each individual student taking a copy of the sheet and producing their own individualised set flash cards.

The potential for this is amazing and starts from the simplicity of a spreadsheet. This is obviously only 1 way in which the Google Apps for Education can be used to help with revision. I have talked previously about using Hangouts to encourage discussions and to allow students to ask questions in a more face to face manner and using Google Sites to provide information to students like a revision website. Inserting verbal comments on exam style questions could also be used as a quick and easy method of providing feedback if the questions are shared via a Google Doc and Google Forms can also be used with exam questions and scripts to self-mark allowing students to see exactly where they went wrong almost immediately.

Good luck with the revision and please feel free to leave any comments or questions.

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