February 5th, 2014 | Published in Google Enterprise
Today is Digital Learning Day - a time to celebrate the incredible ways schools use digital tools to help students learn. As a former 4th grade teacher, I'm constantly blown away by the ways today’s teachers have embraced technology. What is happening in today’s classrooms (collaborative writing, virtual field trips) seemed light years away just 10 years ago.
In honor of Digital Learning Day, we'd like to highlight a few benefits that teachers using Google for Education often mention: more powerful sharing, greater student ownership, new insights into the learning process, and connections beyond the school walls.
More powerful sharing
Google Certified Teachers like education trainer Jack West tell us about the transformative power of sharing with Google Docs. Jack says, “The essence of what we do as 21st Century teachers has been distilled by the visionary educators at Point England, New Zealand. We want our students to (1) learn, (2) create and (3) share. Until digital tools like Google Docs came around, it was difficult to help students share their work beyond the other students in their class.”
|Students at Passaic High School work together on a timeline of the French Revolution|
Greater student ownership
At East Leyden High School in Chicago, teacher Katie Diebold has found her students are more motivated when using digital tools. In her “Exploring Tech” class, she taught a unit on transportation. In the past she had her students do research and then make posters. But this year she had them use dynamic apps like Stupeflix, a video editing tool in the Chrome Web Store, to deliver their projects. Katie explained, “With Chromebooks we can provide students with more choices in how they do their assignments and learn in flexible ways. Students have a range of different tools they are able to use when completing projects to demonstrate what they have learned.”
At Passaic City Public Schools in New Jersey, the district is also using Google Apps and Chromebooks as a centerpiece of their 1:1 model. Even in the early days of their 1:1 program last year the district was seeing impact. Joshua Koen, District Coordinator of Technology, said that “the most obvious benefit of using Chromebooks at Passaic is that students can take an active part in developing their own lesson plans. Rather than a teacher dictating facts to their class, the students can build their own learning experience, working together to solve problems.”
New insights into student learning
Digital tools give teachers views into the student learning process that were never available before. A few months ago I visited a high school English classroom in which the teacher was “dropping in” on the papers students were writing with Google Docs. We opened up one student’s document and we saw that she had pasted the feedback from her last assignment as well as the scoring rubric into the top of her current paper. The teacher was impressed and immediately added a comment into the document praising her approach.
Connecting with the world
When I was teaching I struggled to get speakers to visit my rural classroom. But today tools like Google+ Hangouts help teachers deliver learning beyond the classroom walls. For example, Vida Fernandez, a Special Education 9th grade English teacher in Passaic, taught a lesson on Frankenstein using Hangouts to connect with another class in Germany. The two classes represented the prosecution and defense in a ‘trial’ of Dr. Frankenstein, and both developed a sophisticated understanding of the narrative and characters of the book.
* * *
Interested in learning more about how Google for Education digital tools can work in your school? If you’re a teacher, check out some of the upcoming educational adventures through Google’s Connected Classrooms. Your students can go underwater with sea creatures, talk to astronauts in space and meet other classrooms around the world. If you’re an administrator, read more about our school solutions at our website.