Google+ Teachnology

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A call to adventure: Learner Agency in the traditional school

In my CORE Education e-fellowship this year I have been investigating learner agency, this blog post summarises the first steps I took during term one on my ongoing journey to enlightenment (I’m still not there yet).  I have employed an action research method for the investigation, and to help unfold the narrative of my experiences I’m going to use Joseph Campbell's traditional 'monomyth' outline as it fits well with the developments and cycles in this research process; this blog post is the introduction, the first part of the story where everyone is just milling about and life is carrying on as normal, but then something disrupts the status quo and there is no turning back.   To contextualise the media reference further, it is a bit like when Luke Skywalker is on Tatooine staying with uncle Owen and aunt Beru wishing he was somewhere else, he find’s a message in R2-D2 with Old Ben (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and before he knows it he is jumping on the Millennium falcon with Han Solo to rescue princess Leia - Luke’s decision to follow Ben was the call to adventure!

(Lucasfilm Ltd, 2014)

Anyway, back to agency in a galaxy a little closer to home…..

The concept of learner agency has been part of ‘bigger picture’ thinking in education for quite some time, but has blossomed recently through many blogs, forums and video sites - for an excellent

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gamification of human anatomy

Poke-a-muscle and whack-a-bone are two really fun web apps that refresh understanding of human anatomy.  I'm using them today in my lesson and getting the boys to screen grab their best score and post it to our Google+ community to encourage some healthy competition between the students.  I finished the lesson off with a collaborative problem solving activity that I found on the TES website which asks the students to match up statements about functions of the skeleton!

Easily manage student sites and e-portfolios with siteMaestro

This is another excellent tool that has been created by New Visions Cloud Lab, and +Andrew Stillman in particular.  I read about this in the GEG NZ group and was perfect timing as I was just about to launch into using Google sites as a way for my Tu Tane students to record their journey towards becoming a good man.

I wanted each student to have their own site to use, and for me to be able to check on the sites and any edits or additions from a central location - siteMaestro allows you to do this and it isn't that tricky to set up, all you need is a site that you'd like the students to use, and a list of their email addresses!  It's so easy I made a video of it below.  The link to the site to install the Add-on is here.

Overall I think it is a brilliant management tool when allowing students the power of using collaborative sites in their own learning journey.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Google+ Hangouts; Connecting and collaborating with NZ students

Last year I was inspired by +Sonya Van Schaijik to organise a TeachmeetNZ event with other physical education teachers in NZ, and managed to connect with +Libby Schumacher-Knight +Aaron Mead and +Julia breen through a Google+ hangout.  The idea was to share some ideas around how we were going to integrate e-learning into our PE teaching the following year, it was a great learning experience and we managed to stream the event live at the Physical Education NZ conference in Auckland, which made it even more worthwhile!  During the 'hangout' we presented our ideas, one of my ideas was to use Google+ communities to allow students to connect and support each other on a platform they were familiar with, as well as using it as a tool to teach digital citizenship and digital literacies - I wrote briefly about the outline of the community on a previous blog post.

Part of Google+ is the' hangout' function, this is a video conferencing/messaging tool like Skype and FaceTime, but it allows up to 15 multiple participants, as well as other apps and plugins to enhance the collaborative aspect (although with one hangout we did as a class the drawing tool was slightly misused

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

E-fellow in Christchurch

                                                       Leaving Poverty Bay

It has been a couple of weeks since I returned from the second 2014 e-fellow experience of the year.  Christchurch was our destination, a place I’ve not visited for 15 years since I toured around the country in a 1981 Mitsubishi Mirage with surfboards on the roof, a tent in the back and not a care in the world.  Plenty has changed since then and I was astonished by the level of disruption, hardship and destruction still felt by the earthquakes back in 2010 and 2011.  However I was really amazed by the level of good old kiwi ingenuity and positive outlook that allowed the residents of Christchurch to continue on and rebuild their city.  Learning communities like the GCSN have really supported the rebuild in the educational sector by connecting schools and promoting shared resources and good practice.  

During the trip I spent plenty of time thinking about my inquiry - enabling learner agency in traditional

Thursday, May 1, 2014

T/A/P into Google Apps

I have been thinking about a way to successfully introduce, and integrate Google Apps for Education (GAFE) in schools since I first started using it in about 2008. It seemed as if there were some aspects that people found difficult to grasp, but were essential to understand in order to know how to use the tools to their full potential. Below you will see what i have come up with (there will be discussions over which area's different aspects lie in, and I welcome comments and suggestions - this could be a good discussion starter with staff?).

T/A/P (Technical/Administrative/Pedagogical) into Google Apps model (click on the image and it will take you to the live document)

This model is intended to be a flexible, interactive, one page visual document that is easy for staff to digest, without getting bogged down with too much pedagogical theory and lingo.  It aims to be personalised, authentic and collaborative - with the emphasis on the individual teacher and the

Using Google+ Communities with learners

I have started using Google+ communities this year to extend what is done in the classroom and to connect learners in a way that works for them.  I have attempted to develop a learning community in my senior classes as I can see the benefits through their interactions already, McLoughlin & Lee write that by using online communities "rich possibilities for students to create and share ideas, connect, and participate in broader learning communities that are not confined to the spaces in which formal teaching and learning activities take place." (2008 p.15)  As a school we use Google Apps for Education (GAFE) and one of the benefits of using this cloud based platform is that it is ubiquitous in that it can be used on any device, and anywhere - the social learning aspect of it 'google+' has a very interactive mobile interface which allows users to receive notifications and post updates from phones and mobile devices, as well as sharing photo's video and giving '+1's' which are similar to the facebook 'like'.  This is working really well and we have used the space to co-collaborate on what we think student agency looks like, as well as sharing ideas and pictures from practical student led PE sessions.

As I teach teenage boys I think as learners they are not too confident in voicing their opinions verbally and would rather write it down sometimes, however there is still the social aspect and face to face contact which allows them to share in other ways as well.  There for I think one of the most important considerations is the medium in which the message is shared - can the participants actively construct and feedback on content that is relevant and applicable in their lives - with the case of teenagers it is more likely to be successful if it is a mobile application.

The video goes into more depth;

McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M. (2008). The Three P’s of Pedagogy for the Networked Society: Personalization, Participation, and Productivity. … Journal of Teaching & Learning in …, 20(1), 10–27. Retrieved from

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How-to-guide: Upload documents to Google drive

When you start using drive more frequently you will get used to the functionality of the tools with regards to collaboration and sharing.  It will be likely that you will need to start uploading more of your documents to the drive so they are available to you from any device and any location.  As a department we used to use our staff drive based at school to host all of our curriculum documents, but it was difficult to access when not in school, and there were multiple copies of several documents due to older versions and different people editing them.  We now use Google drive to store our curriculum documents and it allows everyone to access them from anywhere as well as collaborate on plans and resources.  This video will guide you through the processes to move your documents to the cloud!  One thing I didn't mention in the video is the fact that some formatting is occasionally lost when converting a word document to Google drive - In my experience tables can look a bit odd, but it's not too hard to clean them up once in the drive.

How-to-guide: Compose, reply, and forward emails

This video goes through some of the simple features of gmail.  Perhaps one of the most important things to note is the use of the Bcc option - you will probably have been sent or forwarded emails from large institutions and you can see all of the email addresses of everyone that has received the email, therefore exposing the confidentiality of the other recipients.  In this case the Bcc option should have been used.  To read more about when to use Bcc have a look at this link.

How-to-guide: Change student password

This short video demonstrates how to change a student password in Google Apps for Education.  You will need your administrator to enable you to change passwords before you have the option to do this.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How-to-guide: Create circles and share on google+

This is a quick guide of how to create a google+ circle, and then share to that particular circle.

From there you can look at creating a community and engage with the students through the power of social media, this is brilliant because they can easily access it on their phones and mobile devices.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Life as an e-fellow....

The first e-fellowship experience for me was embodied in a vision of the Sky Tower from half way up Mt. Eden. The 3 day meeting was full of inspiration, innovation and fresh ideas from a wide range of people places, buildings, practices and theory. Day one was kicked off by a meet and greet at the CORE Education HQ, everyone gave a personal introduction and a small talk with the artefacts we brought along - it felt humbling to be in a room with such a vast knowledge base and endless list of experiences. The e-fellow group consisted of 5 secondary educators and 2 from the Primary sector, this was a different ratio from previous years and sparked plenty of interesting conversations and allowed me to realise that despite many of us being at different stages of integration and familiarity of blended e-