GAFE, Chrome and Chromebook observations in class: Part 1
@milesberry @guyshearer @RoehamptonEdu #gtauk
Prompted by the marvellous +Miles Berry, who asked for some reflections on Chrome and Chromebooks, specifically with some thoughts for new colleagues in teacher training.
I spend a great deal of time talking to people about how to enhance educational outcomes using technology. I have observed that, very often, teachers who are new to using technology in education become distracted by the technicalities, or exciting looking fripperies, and lose focus on the teaching. I don't believe that this means that teachers should therefore not use technology to enhance their teaching, far from it, just that we as teachers need to select our technology extremely carefully. We need to ensure that, every time we plan our teaching, we are sure that the technology we are using has a good chance of enhancing the learning outcomes.
Often this comes down to using technology which will enhance the basic tenets of good teaching. It is worth scanning John Hattie's, entirely sensible, list of the most effective teaching methods http://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/
. If we use this as our reference point, we should be looking to use technologies that, for example, enhance students' ability to self-assess and the teacher's ability to provide formative feedback (numbers 1 and 3 on his list). I am a great fan of Google Apps for Education for a reason, in that it is ideally suited to support these types of teaching and learning methods.
Until you have actually used gApps in earnest in the classroom, I am not sure it is entirely obvious quite how radically useful Chrome and Chromebooks are. The three elements are entirely integrated in a way that means there are no barriers to just getting on
To summarise the key elements:Google Apps:
Absolutely essential. The fundamental idea behind it is that anything we create when teaching and learning can be shared for collaboration. And, after all, is there anything as a teacher that we will ever create which we do not, at some point, need to share? GAFE fundamentally supports the idea of a learning partnership between the teacher and student. There are no barriers between the creation of work and the teacher's ability to add to the student's knowledge.
The simplest example of this is just to describe a standard google document. Imagine creating a word document except that you can actually work on it at the same time as the student, see them typing each letter and word in real time and you can add comments to the work in the moment. This means you can apply real time advice to their work - and indeed to a whole class. The effect is radical. No 'do work', 'hand in work', 'mark work', 'hand back work' rigmarole with all the delays that entails. Just comment directly on student work as you go. Perfect for formative feedback and much more immediate for the student. You can use Google Apps in all browsers, it just works best in Chrome. Oh, and it is virtually impossible for students to lose work...
Set up your G+ profile and join the Google Apps in Education community to get up to speed.Chrome
It's not just a browser, it's an operating system. The Chrome Web Store has now, I find, many more useful apps for general educational purposes than the Apple store (and believe me I've tried a lot of Apple apps; over a thousand at last count...) The key difference is that the majority of the Chome Store apps save the work directly back to the Google Drive where they are safely stored, and can be easily shared between student and teacher. Need a new app for a job? Download it and start using it. No barriers.
This is what, ultimately, makes the difference to our effectiveness as teaching; seamless interaction and collaboration.
My number 1 tip for Chrome? Always sign in. Then you can't lose your bookmarks, passwords, etc. when you move devices as they are all saved to the cloud.Chromebooks
They just make all of the useful stuff above work properly. No fuss. No messing about. No losing work. Cheap. Good to type on. Go buy one and try it out. I recommend the new Acer. Not as pretty, but way faster than any other models for around £200 from all participating outlets...
Hope this provides some food for thought Miles.