Friday, 14 March 2014

GALT: Collating Learning Materials with Google Forms for Student Self-Assessment Workshop

Exchange of Ideas (CC0 Public Domain image)

As mentioned in the initial post about GALT Sheffield, the afternoon was split into a set of parallel workshops. I attended the "Collating Learning Materials with Google Forms for Student Self-Assessment Workshop" facilitated by Mel Lindley from Sheffield Hallam University. This was a complete workshop, whereas some of the others were split down into mutli-workshops which involved a series of topics facilitated by different people.

Mel introduce the workshop by presenting some of her background and how her interest had developed in using technology enhanced learning within her own practice.

A module that she delivered was primarily based on workbooks produced in Microsoft Word. The topic covered cardio-respiratory physiotherapy. This was the area in which students received the least clinical experience. Focus groups were run to canvass student opinion. The results showed that students wanted learning materials that they could return to and they wanted it to be more visual.

Mel worked on the concept of producing content as videos rather than as a workbook. She applied the functionality of TED-Ed to enable this.


TED-Ed Website

Aside End]

TED-Ed videos were created using the help of enthusiastic student volunteers. So there was a mixture of videos, ones in which Mel herself appeared and ones with just students. And in order to pull all the content together, Mel used Google Sites to provide the structure.

At the end of the first year of running the module using this new format, an evaluation took place. The outcome was that students really like the approach. They were able to watch the material anywhere, for example during journey time when they were on clinical placement. Of the videos, the students tended to prefered the student based ones. So more of these were produced.

Mel published the materials so that it was openly viewable. This had a real benefit because within 24 hours of going live, a major multinational company was in contact wanting to collaborate.

Using Google Sites meant that it was easy to edit and change the information without technical support. It is great for collating resources and it delivers content in a mobile device friendly format, which is important for students on placement. The site was linked into the VLE, but students could also get to it without going via the VLE.

To give an idea of the time commitment involved, Mel produced 12 TED-Eds and two Google Sites in one long working day.

Students like to collaborate, and it is an important skill for them to develop. With the TED-Ed service only the person who is logged in is able to input and save answers, so that collaboration functionality isn’t really there yet. However, this is something that TED-Ed has been made aware of and they are looking to develop this functionality.

This work received a formal commendation from the national professional body for its content and delivery. Also, from an enhanced employability perspective, students were able to demonstrate their involvement in the production of learning materials.

Mel would like to develop the concept further to a point where students could edit content in a Google Site. Currently they just had collaboration options via Google Docs.

A separate area where Mel developed a similar approach was for a Distance Learning (DL) course. There were certain misconceptions about the course held by students in some other countries. Consequently, a Google Site was used to create a taster event.  Videos of patients were hosted on YouTube with appropriate consent forms saying that they would be publicly viewable. Students were required to fill in Google Docs to explain the gait of the patient subject on the video. This proved to very successful.

Perspectives on the Workshop

There was a range of abilities of participants within the workshop. Mel negotiated with the capacity audience to identify what people wanted covering within the session. There were several Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) staff in the workshop, so Mel said that it would be useful for people to jump in if they had extra knowledge to contribute. As a result people felt free to contribute and interact with the whole group and also help out the people sitting alongside with less Google Apps knowledge. It was a really nice atmosphere in the workshop and it showed the potential of such a shared institutional event.

Mel started out looking at creating a Google Doc, which some people in the workshop didn’t know how to do. She then went on to demonstrating how to create a Google Form. Emphasise was placed upon thinking about the purpose of the form before getting started creating. It can be important to think about even whether to ask for a Name in the form as this could lead to a reduced number of responses over an anonymous form. She ran through the process of creating a series of questions, explaining the different types and when you might use them. She explained how it was possible to set up a likert scale, using columns to make the scale and, therefore, not having to type in Strongly Agree, Agree, etc. every time. [Tip: Google Chrome auto spell-checks on form creation, other browsers might not.]

A limitation of the form is if you make an error and go in and change it then the question drops to the bottom. You can re-order the questions, but these won’t correspond to the order in the spreadsheet. To get around this you need to make a copy of the form and then create a new spreadsheet to realign everything.

There was a test form for the group to complete. And a set of graphs resulted from the inputs to shows the responses. The file can be downloaded as a spreadsheet with all the responses in.

Session time was getting on so we moved onto a demo of how to create a Google Sites. [Tip: Look at different templates and click the edit button to see how things are put together to give you some ideas.]

There was a lot of useful information exchanged, and good discussion and sharing took place throughout the workshop session. 

Mel suggested some really useful general advice during the session. Two which I felt to be good lines to take away were:

  • “Don’t take risks on your own; work with others within and external to the university.”
  • “Roll your sleeves up, have a play and get your hands dirty actually using the technology.”

Related GALT blogposts:

Google Apps for Learning and Teaching (GALT): Sheffield One Day Conference 
Google Apps for Learning and Teaching (GALT): Morning Session 2

GALT Website link

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