Many years ago it was a fair statement to say that students in an online class wouldn’t collaborate in the same way face to face students would. Those days have certainly changed. Of course, with the invent of blogging and content management systems, students were able to engage in somewhat synchronous activity. Those tools provided an excellent way for teachers to integrate technology that encouraged discussion and provided opportunities for students to demonstrate understanding.
Around 2007 Google launched Google Apps which forever changed online collaboration.
Teachers are now able to design learning activities for online classes where students can easily collaborate and demonstrate understanding in innovative ways. Even better, much of the collaboration can happen synchronously. Students can launch chat windows or a Google Hangout to discuss and collaborate. While in the hangout, they can even work on Google documents at the same time.
As a teacher, I’ve worked hard to use Google Apps to deliver sound instruction. My students have worked hard to use Google Apps to demonstrate understanding.
- GoogleDocs allows students to collaborate live on documents, presentations, and spreadsheets
- Google Hangouts allows to up to ten students to meet live to collaborate, discuss, and present. Here’s a sample from my speech students. Basically, the learning objective was to have students test their public speaking skills in a webinar format, similar to webex. As you can see, Google Hangouts allow students the ability to present information via video and audio; they can also screen share which adds another level of collaboration.
- Google Sites allows for collaboration in the same way a wiki does. Several years ago I had students in separate classes collaborating on research projects using Wikispaces. That was nice, but Google Sites is certainly a better tool in that
That’s just a drop in the bucket. Seriously, you need to check out what Google Apps can do for your classroom. Don’t be intimidated by the power. With proper training and support, you can do it. Find a few buddies, so you can support each other. Utilize training tools like Atomic Learning, Google trainers, or your local Edtech groups to coach you through the experiments. Of course, don’t hesitate to turn to social media for outstanding connections!