Using Google Docs to promote online
collaboration and active engagement in a
blended learning course
Freda Daniels
The Lifelong Learning and National Qualifications Frameworks course is structured
to be interactive, collaborative and par...
Context:
➢ Lifelong Learning and National Qualification Frameworks: Leaders
for Learning - a blended learning course
➢ NQF...
➢Small group of ten registered students
➢Three from Botswana and seven from Gauteng
➢All participants work in the NQF terr...
➢ Use Learning Management System (Moodle)
➢ Asynchronous tools - discussion and plenary
forums for facilitation of content...
➢The pedagogical style of the course is consistent with
recognised adult learning practices
➢Course is structured as inter...
➢ Struggle to get participants to interact with one another
through guided reading, writing and discussion –
➢ The Learnin...
➢ Students might be intimidated by responses;
they are on very different conceptual levels
➢ Might lurk in the background,...
Intended outcome(s)
Students should be able to:
➢ develop the confidence to participate more actively
and engage collaboratively on activities...
Google Docs as alternative to the LMS:
➢ Encourages greater participation, engagement and collaborative
construction of kn...
Google Docs enhance the learning process due to its:
➢ Read-ability, write-ability and edit-ability of texts/responses
➢ A...
➢ Students registered for a Gmail Account
➢ Introduction to Google Docs with help from a google drive
instruction sheet
➢ ...
➢ Second week: academic activity - students engaged with article
uploaded on Google Docs
➢ Students created questions base...
➢ Select appropriate technological tools that match specific
learning task
➢ Introduce technology playfully until students...
Potential challenges:
➢ Ensure all students are connected to Google Docs
➢ Negative experiences dampen spirit to experimen...
➢ Introduce students to the steps for accessing Google
Docs - develop an instruction sheet which guides them
through steps...
➢ Design authentic activities that connect the learning
to students’ life experiences and work contexts
➢ Encourage studen...
➢ Google Docs is an effective online tool for facilitating
participatory and collaborative learning for working students
➢...
Google Docs adds more interest and variety to forms of learning
Shows great promise as a learning tool
Students form a Com...
Beetham, (2007) An approach to learning activity design. In Beetham &
Sharpe, Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: desig...
Herrington, J., Reeves, T. & Oliver, R. (2010). A Guide to Authentic e-
Learning. Routledge: New York and London.
Herringt...
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Using google docs to promote online engagement and active participation

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Using google docs to promote online engagement and active participation

  1. 1. Using Google Docs to promote online collaboration and active engagement in a blended learning course Freda Daniels
  2. 2. The Lifelong Learning and National Qualifications Frameworks course is structured to be interactive, collaborative and participatory. While participants engage with the readings, it is a challenge to get them to engage with one another. This case study explored the effectiveness of using Google Docs as an online collaboration tool for the co-construction of knowledge by a group of working students participating in an online component of a blended learning course. Framing of the case study
  3. 3. Context: ➢ Lifelong Learning and National Qualification Frameworks: Leaders for Learning - a blended learning course ➢ NQF level 8; 60 credits; 8 months in duration ➢ Three modules, each 10 weeks in duration ➢ Co-facilitated by UWC and South African Qualifications Authority ➢ Two residential weeks at start and middle of course ➢ Proceeds with 4 months online engagement ➢ 10% of total mark is allocated for participation Background
  4. 4. ➢Small group of ten registered students ➢Three from Botswana and seven from Gauteng ➢All participants work in the NQF terrain ➢Have own laptops, access to internet either at work or at work and home ➢Eight participated in pilot study on Google Docs. The participants
  5. 5. ➢ Use Learning Management System (Moodle) ➢ Asynchronous tools - discussion and plenary forums for facilitation of content ➢ Each module co-facilitated by 2 colleagues ➢ Each week introduces a new activity or topic accompanied by weekly readings and a task based on each reading. Established practice (1/2)
  6. 6. ➢The pedagogical style of the course is consistent with recognised adult learning practices ➢Course is structured as interactive and participatory ➢Problem-based approach to unpack key theoretical and strategic issues ➢(1) Participants engage with article for the week, summarise key arguments and post on the discussion forum ➢(2) Task which consists of a series of questions which connects the article to their workplace context ➢Each module culminates in a written assignment. Established practice (2/2)
  7. 7. ➢ Struggle to get participants to interact with one another through guided reading, writing and discussion – ➢ The Learning Management System is rather static – does not allow for simultaneous interactive online engagement ➢ Students upload long paraphrased summaries ➢ Students do not always respond to each other’s contributions or comments ➢ Summaries no reflection of understanding of core concepts ➢ Form a Community of Practice in theory but not in practice The challenge (1/2)
  8. 8. ➢ Students might be intimidated by responses; they are on very different conceptual levels ➢ Might lurk in the background, perhaps not enough confidence to engage ➢ Might depend on regular respondents to comment, elaborate or assume responsibility ➢ Often feels like they expect the facilitator to lecture or take control of the discussions. The challenge (2/2)
  9. 9. Intended outcome(s)
  10. 10. Students should be able to: ➢ develop the confidence to participate more actively and engage collaboratively on activities ➢ take responsibility for the meaningful co-construction of knowledge ➢ recognise their power to take co-ownership and responsibility for their learning ➢ develop more critical dispositions to learning Intended outcome(s)
  11. 11. Google Docs as alternative to the LMS: ➢ Encourages greater participation, engagement and collaborative construction of knowledge between students Impact / Affordances
  12. 12. Google Docs enhance the learning process due to its: ➢ Read-ability, write-ability and edit-ability of texts/responses ➢ Access-control ability restricts control ➢ Encourages share –ability ➢ Focus (ability) enables students to emphasise challenging aspects ➢ Highlight (ability) of areas where they need elaboration or support ➢ Simplicity of the technology makes it easier to navigate and its accessibility allows students to respond in real time Impact / Affordances
  13. 13. ➢ Students registered for a Gmail Account ➢ Introduction to Google Docs with help from a google drive instruction sheet ➢ Introduction of fun activity using the new technology ➢ Activity instantly stimulated participants to engage ➢ Ease of the technology encouraged them to share stories freely ➢ Immediate (real time) or within the same day responses to comments Description of intervention
  14. 14. ➢ Second week: academic activity - students engaged with article uploaded on Google Docs ➢ Students created questions based on the article and added questions alongside the article in the comment boxes ➢ Students responded to each other’s questions/comments ➢ A new lively collaborative engagement developed ➢ Instead of summaries, co-construction of knowledge happening students applied new concepts to their real-world contexts ➢ Power relations shifted from facilitator to students taking co- ownership and responsibility for their learning Description of intervention
  15. 15. ➢ Select appropriate technological tools that match specific learning task ➢ Introduce technology playfully until students develop confidence to engage collaboratively ➢ Learning is fundamentally a socially mediated process – encourage them to participate, engage and collaborate ➢ Structure activities which allow for reading, writing, questioning, commenting and editing simultaneously ➢ Guard against judgmental feedback & criticism Key points for effective practice (1/2)
  16. 16. Potential challenges: ➢ Ensure all students are connected to Google Docs ➢ Negative experiences dampen spirit to experiment, or discourage them from trying to use Google Docs in future ➢ Capability to convert PDF articles to Google Docs Key points for effective practice (2/2)
  17. 17. ➢ Introduce students to the steps for accessing Google Docs - develop an instruction sheet which guides them through steps ➢ Create a safe online space so participants feel free to explore, engage, collaborate and practice their skills ➢ Start with fun activity to excite them to participate and respond to each other’s comments. ➢ Select appropriate emerging technologies and pedagogies that best match the learning task Recommendations (1/2)
  18. 18. ➢ Design authentic activities that connect the learning to students’ life experiences and work contexts ➢ Encourage students to comment, question, challenge ➢ Monitor their posts to gauge quality of participation ➢ Monitor understanding of concepts and know when to intervene, elaborate, question or challenge them ➢ Discuss experiences with other colleagues (both positive & negative) ➢ Encourage colleagues to experiment with different technologies Recommendations (2/2)
  19. 19. ➢ Google Docs is an effective online tool for facilitating participatory and collaborative learning for working students ➢ Allows for co-construction of knowledge, encourages active engagement without restrictions of time and space. ➢ The right pedagogical strategy to mediate participation, engagement and collaboration can be insightful and liberating ➢ Google Docs has potential to develop cognitive, social and collaborative learning capabilities ➢ Potential development of more critical dispositions to learning ➢ Potential to transform our teaching & learning practices ➢ Collaboration is a core graduate attribute to function in the global economy Conclusions
  20. 20. Google Docs adds more interest and variety to forms of learning Shows great promise as a learning tool Students form a Community of Practice across time and space Conclusion
  21. 21. Beetham, (2007) An approach to learning activity design. In Beetham & Sharpe, Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: designing and delivering learning. Routledge: Taylor & Francis group. Bower, M. (2008) Affordance Analysis – matching learning tasks with learning technologies, Education Media International, 45 (1), 3-15. Brown, C. & Gachago, D. (Eds) (2013) Emerging Technologies in Higher Education: A guide for Higher Education Practitioners. Chu, S and Kennedy, D. (2011) Using online collaborative tools for groups to co-construct knowledge. Online Information Review. Vol 35 (4), 581- 597. References (1/2)
  22. 22. Herrington, J., Reeves, T. & Oliver, R. (2010). A Guide to Authentic e- Learning. Routledge: New York and London. Herrington, J. (2006). Authentic e-learning in higher education: Design principles for authentic learning environments and tasks. Keynote Address: E-Learn Conference, 2006. Research Online, University of Wollongong. Hodgkinson-Williams (2014). Affordances and teaching and learning interactions. Power-point presentation, UCT. Rowe, Bozalek & Frantz, (2013) Using Google Drive to facilitate a blended approach to authentic learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, Vol 44, No 4, pp. 594-606. References (2/2)

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