Monday, 25 May 2015

Using Google Classroom for the first time

The new school year has just started here in Thailand, and one of the changes I am planning this year is to use Google Classroom. I have used various Google Apps in class previously, and found them to be very useful, particularly as collaborative tools. However, this will be the first time I have used Google Classroom itself. 

I will be piloting the use of Classroom with my Grade 10 students as part of their basic biology course. A key thing when integrating new technology is not to take on too much too soon, so I'm not rolling it out for my other courses as yet. For now I will also continue to use Moodle as an LMS for posting resources such as videos, links to useful websites and so on, but any productive work such as written assignments will be done via Classroom.

The school band playing as school opens for the year.

Pedagogical rationale

As with any EdTech integration it is important to think about pedagogy first and then see what technology may be suitable in achieving the pedagogical aims. 

In this case the rationale behind using Google Classroom includes the following:

  • To facilitate more collaborative learning
  • To make learning more visible, by allowing rapid feedback to learners, from both me and, just as importantly, from their peers
  • To clarify and consolidate links between topic areas within ecology
  • Following on from the previous point, to enable stronger links to be made between the classroom and the real world, by demonstrating more clearly how the different sub-topics relate to the overarching theme of the interdependence of living things with each other and their environment
  • To form the basis of a digital portfolio
I foresee a couple of potential hurdles with this approach. There may be technical issues, such as how to deal with group work assignments, although there are a few workarounds for this. Classroom is still a work in progress, so there may be other, unforeseen technical challenges. Also, there is a danger of 'Google fatique', if learners become tired of using the same platform repeatedly. Hopefully, however, this project will proceed smoothly and according to plan. Alternatively I may be pulling my hair out and spending a lot of time lurking on the Google+ Classroom community page!