Here is part two (of three) of my tale describing the classroom applications of Google Docs following an ETAI conference session given by Adele Raemer.
First, an update on part one. It turned out that the other two teachers were accessing our shared schedule by searching for my email with the link each time (instead of accessing it directly from Google Docs) and needed a “refresher”. Nonetheless, I’m still very optimistic that they will really adopt this change. All of us having the most updated schedule at all times is simply too good to miss.
The enthusiastic response I got from the students when they saw that the first online homework task was built as a form with a “submit” button was astonishing. The results appear immediately in my Google Docs. Till now the students sent me homework by email, often with attachments. Some didn’t like using email. Worse, a surprising number of students don’t have “office” on their computers (some seem to have only Facebook…) and I was pasting tasks into the body of the email for them. There were also issues of different versions of “Word” and tasks that wouldn’t open…
Despite all of that I was still astonished by their response. I didn’t expect students to compliment me on building a homework task! Some asked how I suddenly knew how to do this. I told them that I studied this in the summer and basked in their momentary admiration.
Here is an example of the most recent task for one of the four homework groups. PLEASE don’t fill out the form. I’d like to see only my own students’ names on the results page!
But that’s not all. Adele introduced us to “Flubaroo”, which grades the tasks and lets you send out an email to all the students, with the results and a comment (it doesn’t matter which kind of email the students are using). Very cool and simple to use.
So, why didn’t I place online tasks using Google Forms at the top of my list?
Building every task in the format of a form requires some adjustments. At the moment it is taking me longer than creating a task using Word. There are a number of possibilities for answer formats and I have to devote thought to the right format for each question, thinking of how the answer should look.
A step in the right direction was to expand my possibilities for utilizing the forms by deciding not to use Flubaroo for all tasks.
There is importance in giving open ended questions. The fact that the answers to each question, in all their variety, will appear in one column should enable me to easily create an error correcting activity in class. At least that is the plan. In the past I attempted to copy problematic sentences from each task I corrected onto a document but that was too time consuming and even confusing.
I am simply going to have to experiment with this and see how many of the tasks I would like the students to do, can fit into the format of a form.
Next time, Part three – Google Forms and Staff Meetings