Last year, I had the opportunity to work with a friend/colleague (Bart Boelen) in this Geography project about tourism. We used iPads to get the information across. This year, no iPads… so I had to find a new interactive way to make sure the students were able to independently learn about the touristic qualities of a certain country. I decided to go for Google Drive. In the past, I’ve worked with this online office-suite and therefore knew its possibilities.
I started out with a lesson about Google Drive itself, just to get the students comfortable with it. I made sure that they already had an active Google account, because in the past signing up proved to be a challenge. Our IT-departement told me it had something to do with the school using one IP-address to connect to the internet. This causes online services to choke up, thinking they are “bombarded” with spam (i.e. multiple students creating an account from the same IP-address). It took me about 30 minutes to explain the basics after which I let the students experiment with the tool in groups, just to get a feel for it. They fooled around with typing together in a single document, the chat functionality, inserting an image, etc.
The second lesson I let them search for and discuss meaningful information for their given destination. They were invited to collect all relevant data in a single Google document so they could all see what was going on and what information they still needed to find.
The last step of this project was to be conducted at home: make a coherent presentation (using Google Drive) to present your findings/information about your country and share this with your teacher (me).
After the deadline, I let the students review Google Drive, using a Google Drive Form. They expressed their fondness for the online office-suite, some of them explaining that “this tool should be used by more teachers in school”. They found that it made working together very easy. Also eliminating “handing over” the presentation, paper, etc. and instead just sharing the file with the teacher was an advantage. The chat function was used a lot. In the beginning for less relevant communication, but gradually they found that this option certainly had its benefits in completing their task.
For me as a teacher, I liked the fact of NOT running around with dozens of paper folders, but instead being able to correct these digital presentations even on the go with my (personal) iPad. I asked my students to fill out a certain page of their book that accompanies the assignment, next year this will be digital too!