Posted by: Navy Teacher | February 10, 2012

Googlease ~ Opportunities are endless

Prior to our most recent class, we watched some videos and read information about utilizing Google documents to enhance your ability to reach out to peers, students, and parents.  I consider myself to be extremely proficient in operating the Microsoft Office suite. I’ve used PowerPoint, Word, and Excel at work and for scholastic purposes.  Until this class, Google Documents has been a tab that I never investigated in my personal e-mail account.  Why has it taken me so long for me to realize the benefits of utilizing this amazing service?

The opportunities for enhancing the classroom experience for students through the use of Google documents are endless.  The presentations that provided 115 different ways to utilize Google documents and forms were tremendously insightful.  I believe that Google documents provide yet another avenue for creative learning.   I really like the interactive function that we explored in the computer lab.  Another great feature is the ability for multiple users to edit a single form.  Students could complete a joint homework assignment from the comfort of their home.  As a teacher, it is a great way to provide real-time feedback on student projects.

Unfortunately, there are potential hurdles to overcome for some students outside the school campus.  I will use my experience in the Navy as a case in point.  Part of the reason we didn’t use Google documents in the Navy was the fact that internet access was intermittent while deployed.  We would go days without internet service due to mission requirements, bad weather or other factors that were beyond our control.  The lack of internet access is an issue that is a reality for students in low-income school districts.  I’d be interested to know how RCSD teachers overcome that obstacle.  There are other options for students like the public library for example.  Motivating your students without internet access to utilize that resource is a challenge.  I’d be interested to know what teachers do for students who don’t have access to the internet in the class or at home.

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Responses

  1. As a teacher, it is indeed important to know if ones students have Internet access as well as the quality of that access. However, one has to balance this with the importance of preparing students to live in a digital world. So, teachers need to be sensitive, creative, and flexible in how they approach assignment criteria that requires Internet access. Certainly school and public libraries are two good options. It may be that in high poverty areas such use of Internet resources for learning take place primarily at school. If you’re interested in recent home Internet demographics, here’s a good report http://www.pewinternet.org/Trend-Data/Whos-Online.aspx

    • You provided some interesting statistics Dr. G. and you made a great point about preparation. I’d venture to say that a majority of students (with internet access) are more in-tuned to the digital world than their teachers. I base my opinion on my personal observations of adolescents in the suburbs.

      • That’s probably true. Teachers often get intimidated by this. However, inasmuch as youth might use and learn new technologies quite effortlessly, what they are not good/skilled at is using those same skills for learning. This is what a teacher is (should be?) most skilled at. So, the challenge of a great teacher today is to connect what they know about learning and development with new tools that have become part of our cultural mainstream… to recognize (and seek out) the potential of new tools for learning rather than for entertainment or personal socializing. There’s no denying that our culture and world have become highly connected and digital. If our schools are not recognizing this and preparing students for this world, then they are not entirely doing their job. Sadly, new federal mandates of high stakes accountability by all have placed everyone’s focus even more so on “school success”… at the expense of human growth and development and a relevant education that prepares students well for life beyond school.

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