Thursday, 12 April 2012

6 Simple Ways to use Google Apps in Teaching

Image from missha, available under a
CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

At the university we have a regular Learning Technologists' Forum where people involved in learning technology come together to share ideas / show case what they're doing / discuss issues which are affecting us.  At the Forum we had just before Easter, we were thinking about how Google Apps were being used and I thought it would be good to summarise a few of the excellent ideas which came up.  Here goes...

1.  Use Google Sites as an informal VLE - this is something that David Read has blogged about before, but with the use of gadgets, a tabbed layout and Google groups for discussions, you've got a lightweight but flexible environment for students to work in.  They're also good for sharing resources with colleagues such as this example from our friends in the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR).

2.  Using mail merge with Google Scripts - this is not only useful for just sending out messages, but it can be a powerful way of connecting up Google Apps with other services - there are some nice things you can do once you've mastered mail merge... one example I particularly liked was its use with TurningPoint (the clickers students can use to vote on questions in lectures / seminars etc).  Students were being given quizzes in class with their individually allocated clickers, they were they emailed back their results using the data from TurningPoint (to aid reflection / give them feedback etc)

3.  Google forms for authentication - as a way of giving access to online resource (which Pete Mella's blogged about before) a Google form can quickly be knocked together and if you get students to log in, you can record the fact that they've accessed the resource as well as providing an extra layer of security (Note from me: might also be good if you're using YouTube for video feedback and want to make sure that your students are accessing their feedback and when)

4.  Google Calendar for appointments with students - just set up some bookable slots in your calendar, share the link to the appointments with your students, let them book themselves in and away you go.  Makes it much easier for them to book than having to locate a paper sign up sheet on an office door somewhere and is far easier to manage.

5.  Google forms for student surveys - they're simple to share, there are lots of different question types and they allow anonymous responses or via students' existing log in.  For rapid feedback and a flexible approach, these seemed to work really well.

6.  Google+ hangouts for hosting small group discussions / collaborative writing / diagramming sessions.  With the integration of apps such as Slideshare and Cacoo, you've got a really flexible tool on your hands.

Half a dozen ideas for different ways to use Google Apps in your teaching!  As we delve more and more into how we can support and develop the use of Google Apps, we'll keep you posted with updates.


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