Google for Education: Using Technology To Support Teaching
The ApproachOne of the key documents we used during our research was The Impact of Digital Technologies on Learning (2012), which states that the use of technology should support collaboration and make learning more interactive: “The use of computer and digital technologies is usually more productive when it supports collaboration and interaction, particularly collaborative use by learners or when teachers use it to support discussion, interaction and feedback.” This helped us to clarify and prioritise showing teachers and students how they could collaborate using G Suite.Our key focus was how we could develop our use of technology to impact teaching and learning. We needed to explore where and how we could have the biggest successes within the curriculum. Through our research, we found that collaboration could be key to this. We began by looking at collaboration more generally through the EEF toolkit on collaboration, and we used that research evidence to inform and support our move to use of technology.At the time we were looking at introducing more technology into the classroom and eventually moving one-to-one, we felt the Office 365 product didn’t match what G Suite and chromebooks could offer at the time. We had also trialled iPads in the school but discounted them due to cost and we found they weren’t as easy to manage or use at school. We wanted a device with a keyboard if students were going to be using it a lot. We also found a lot of similar schools during our research visits who had been on similar journeys of trialling iPads/Office 365 before settling on G Suite and chromebooks. The relationships established during these visits became a form of professional collaboration for staff and we still maintain close contact with several of these schools.
What’s Involved?Through our use of G Suite, we have improved collaboration both in the classroom and between staff. One of the key features of G Suite that we were quick to embrace is the ability to share documents and resources. This formed a major part of initial training sessions for both staff and students.Shared documents have helped facilitate more group work. Groups of students can work on one document simultaneously, and tools such as the in-built version history and extensions like Draftback allow the teacher to see exactly who has contributed, how much and when. Furthermore, group work is no longer confined to the school building or hours.This allows for greater collaboration, made so much easier by chromebooks and G Suite. This is a fantastic development for all our students, but particularly supports our disadvantaged students who may previously have struggled to participate in group projects.
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Using Technology in Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning
EvaluationWhile we firmly believe collaboration has impacted all students, there were initially some teething issues with shared documents and collaboration during lessons. For example, in a GCSE MFL lesson, students all worked on one document to write a paragraph each, with the idea that students could easily peer assess but also use each other’s work for support. Although the theory of using this for peer support and interaction was sound, the practicalities meant that students tried to edit the same part of the same document, causing a great deal of confusion. Students also soon realised that they were able to interact with one another, something that needed careful monitoring. However, as we have developed our knowledge and use of G Suite, we have come up with solutions to these issues, such as sharing a slide deck where each student works on one slide only, creating a table in a shared document, where students each have their own cell in which to work, and the use of version history to help monitor contributions.In an annual staff survey in July 2018, 99% of teachers felt the use of chromebooks was having a positive impact in terms of the resources available to students.When asked to name the best feature of chromebooks and Google, a significant number of teachers commented on the opportunities for collaboration. Students also mentioned the positives that collaboration offered them in their annual survey in December 2017.Peer-to-peer support has enriched learning and aided student progress. This is not only within school but also in collaborative work outside of school, which was much harder to achieve before the introduction of G Suite and chromebooks.Being able to collaborate with ease has helped our students to communicate more effectively with their peers. Learners who are not always heard can write their ideas down with confidence and others can learn from their responses. Students’ writing has improved as they can read model answers written by peers and teach their peers more regularly than they could before. As sharing work is much easier, students are more confident about what a high-level response looks like. Exam boards do not share 30 example answers every lesson, but that’s okay – we can now write and share our own in moments!
- G Suite – a free cloud-based technology with multiple technology solutions
Using Technology in Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning
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