Using Online Collaborative Platforms in Class

The teacher who is supervising my practicum placement this semester has fully embraced the use of ICT within the classroom and it is evident that this use has become second-nature to the students.

During the first weekly visit at my practicum school, my Supervising Teacher had set class work that required students to work in small groups. The task that the students were working on was a PowerPoint presentation and each group was given a specific section of the presentation to work on. (each student at the school has their own laptop so it is easy for them to participate in such activities). However, to facilitate this collaborative effort of putting together a presentation by 20-odd students, the teacher created a Google Doc which was located in a class Google Drive account. Now for those who have in the past tried to work collaboratively with others on a specific document (be it a Word document or something else), you would know that at times it can become chaotic because you wouldn’t know who edited the document last and what the most up-to-date information was. However, Google have overcome this problem by creating a platform where multiple users can work on a document simultaneously and the content that they add gets entered into the file in real-time. This means no more multiple versions of a document and no more cutting and pasting into a master file. Therefore, in the case of education, this means teachers can set group tasks and students can work collaboratively in class or remotely at home (National Professional Standards for Teaching: standard 2.6.1).

Over the course of this lesson, students were busy working on their section of the presentation. Some students were working on the design of their slides, while others were collecting pictures from online sources to include in the document. Others were putEdmodo picting together the content for the presentation. Overall, it was a great activity because it not only had the students working together on a common project, but it also had them utilising one of the most up-to-date software platforms on the Internet. Once again, Google is revolutionising the way we do things online. But it didn’t end there. Once the students had completed the PowerPoint presentation, the teacher uploaded the file to Edmodo so that all the students in the class could access the document.

The use of Edmodo is a great initiative because it enables the teacher to distribute information to students from one central location. But the real benefit is that the students can access this information both in class and at home. Therefore, when setting homework, for example, the teacher uploads the worksheet or information to Edmodo and the students have immediate access to it. No more excuses of “I lost the worksheet” or “I didn’t have the information” as all students have access to this platform at school and at home.

I have already learnt a lot in this very short space of time from my Supervising Teacher. By him embracing ICT in the classroom and using it in this way, it means that he is able to engage with his students on another level – the ‘online’ level – and this is a domain that most young people are experts in. Therefore, he believes that he is being more effective as a teacher as he is creating an environment which is more conducive for student learning (NPST: standard 3.4.2). And by the enthusiasm that his students show when working on set tasks, it’s hard to argue otherwise!

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