February 25, 2014

Google Apps and Assessment

Task design and assessment is central to many educational conversations today, and it’s hard not to think about how the use of educational technology can really lend itself to this work.  As more and more students and teachers use online collaboration tools, it seems to me that assessment is an easy fit.  Let me give you an example.  I can pick any web 2.0 tool that’s on the CBE’s Accepted Tools list, like KidBlog and be able to see a child’s learning process.  Why? Well, blogging is a means for documenting thoughts and ideas that can be shared across a platform while receiving feedback.  The feedback is important in this process because it offers the writer an opportunity to reflect on new ideas and suggestions for future work.  The intent is that the writer continues to blog and reader’s can see how the writer develops as they share new ideas.  But blogging is only one way of formatively assessing student work.  I’d like to share another example.

With the release of Google Apps for Education in the CBE, a whole new world of opportunity to engage, connect, and assess has opened up.  Google offers a variety of apps including Drive, Sites, Groups, Gmail and Calendar, all with their own unique purpose.  The common feature between all of these apps is the ability to collaborate simultaneously with many users.  To fully understand the capacity of this environment, I will zero in on Google Drive.

Google Drive consists of Documents, Presentations, Spreadsheets, Forms, Drawing and the ability to add even more.  With Documents, students can work together on a project where each individual student contributes their own work.  Through the revision history available to them and all those sharing the document, it’s easy to see who is writing which part of the project.  

The share feature allows users to invite others into the document, including outside CBE contacts, like parents.  Imagine that.  A place where parents can come in at any time, as long as they have Internet access, read their child’s work, and be able to comment (if the permission has been set).  The teacher can also comment and provide feedback along the way so the students know how to improve.  If that sounds too busy, permissions can be set to read only, and parents can have a discussion with their child or email personal comments directly.  The other neat feature about Google Drive is that users can upload all types of documents, images, and videos, and be able to share in the same way.  I believe this app supports the shift in education towards a more student-centered focus.

Before closing, I’d like to also mention that Google Forms is a great way for users to conduct summative assessments.  Teachers have been using Google Forms to create pre and post-assessments to gauge where a child is in their learning.  To know what a student knows, what they want to learn, and what they have learned at the end of a task (commonly known as K-W-L) is one such example.  The responses are easily submitted and the data is compiled for easy viewing.  The teacher can then print off graphs and charts to share, or can make visible the responses to each person submitting a form.

Assessment plays an integral role in education and we would be completely amiss if we did not incorporate educational technology into the conversations.  There's so much possibility.  We just have to enter.

Specialist, Innovation and Learning Technology

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