Cloud-based Tools Meeting the Needs of Students in Online Learning:
Revisiting YouTube and Google Apps for Education
Three years ago the Google Apps for Education initiative was introduced in the Oregon Virtual School District and since that debut hundreds of districts in the states have followed suit. The Chicago public school system in three years will save $6 million in licensing fees alone just by moving to the cloud platform (Weldon, 2013). Jaime Casap, Google’s’ “Educational Evangelist” (Casap, 2013), says the cloud-based platform will prepare schools for the next step in the digital education journey: customizing and personalizing the educational experience for each schoolchild (2013). Casap explains, "We've moved the conversation forward from traditional to digital education, the new focus is on how to really use technology in education” (2013). It’s time to revisit familiar sites like Youtube and Google Apps for Education and investigate which tools will be best suited to engage, instruct, collaborate, organize and assess student learning in an online course.
In building my online photography course, I used Web 2.0 tools such as Weebly, Wikispaces, Google Calendar and Prezi. Because I was teaching in a blended classroom, I did not need to engage and instruct my students using video or voice overs. In order to give a sense of presence in an online course, I would choose to use YouTube to engage learners. YouTube has a video editor and an easy method for recording right off your webcam. Giving students a real person to see and view in a short video can add a human element that is needed in an online environment. You Tube also has a photo editor and slide presentation capability. Another great feature in YouTube is the playlist section where you can upload a series of videos for a topic in your course and send the link to the class for viewing. Students, in turn, can make their own playlist to share with the instructor or their classmates. YouTube EDU and YouTube for Schools have been created for teachers to monitor and access the vast amount of information in video on the internet. Video has always been a part of instruction in schools and YouTube has now worked with teachers and over 600 organizations (such as the Smithsonian and TED) to select content for educational purposes. Available to educators are over 400 pHYPERLINK "http://www.youtube.com/teachers"lHYPERLINK "http://www.youtube.com/teachers"aylists sorted by grade level.
If rediscovering YouTube for education was a boost to my online tool use, taking a closer look at Google Apps for Education certainly completed my online toolkit. Recently, I stumbled across a series of YouTube videos that covered all the uses for Google Apps in an online setting. ISTE 2013 full length videos (http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6aVN_9hcQEFDH57WbT4sY8xQ6Mpp5kbO) answered all my questions on how Google Apps would work in an online environment. The video"Amazing Features of Google Apps” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgPtHJDd5vc&list=PL6aVN_9hcQEFDH57WbT4sY8xQ6Mpp5kbO will guide you through using Google Apps. Google forms for skills assessment, spreadsheets, charts and collaborative data collection, parent communication, assignment trackers and contact information. Google forms and spreadsheets can be used for grade books, storing lessons, classroom budgets, organizing fieldtrips and responses to data. Google Presentations are for live, collaborative presentations that can be used for student introductions, research and sharing information, parent night and conference presentations. Google Docs has a wide variety of templates for organizing and engaging students that include everything from newsletters, student schedules, syllabuses, grade reports, lesson plans, grading rubrics, class notes, and project trackers, to name just a few. Google Docs allows teachers to make comments and students can insert replies creating a means of feedback and communication in a dialogue box. Google Docs has a research tool that allows you to search for information with choices of dictionary, scholarly articles and images right in the document. Google draw is the most under-used app in the Google Apps repertoire. Google Draw is a live collaborative blank canvas that enables you to add text and insert pictures for lessons or labelling objects. Google draw can be used for creating a poster or flyer or an information webs or any kind of organizer. Basically, anything you can draw on paper you can do on Google Draws’ blank canvas. Google Sites allow you to build your own websites that can be a class site, student portfolio page or a department site. By using forms and uploading videos, teachers can “flip” instruction or create a shared resource site for an online course. All of these Apps are free and it only takes a Gmail account to access them.
As I continue to build and fine-tune my online photography course, I will look at taking full advantage of the cloud tools that Google offers with Google Apps. My goal, as an educator is to be able to engage, instruct, collaborate, organize and assess student learning in an online course. Casap emphasizes, "Technology and the Web isn't the solution, great education is what is important. Technology is there to support it."
Weldon, D. (2013, September 13, 2013). Google Apps for Education Still Tops Could Based Offerings. Blog Post http://www.fierceenterprisecommunications.com/story/google-apps-education-still-tops-cloud-based-offerings/2013-09-02#ixzz2lWTQtdUy
Casap, J(2013, February 17, 2013). Educational Evangelist. Blog Post http://www.jcasap.com/
ISTE 2013 Full Version videos http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6aVN_9hcQEFDH57WbT4sY8xQ6Mpp5kbO