I recently just finished a fairly large project for my graduate classes at UNI. And I may sound like I just won an oscar, but I have to give credit where credit is due. I have to thank my teammates who also committed to the project. I have to thank my wife for putting up with me staying up until two or three in the morning some nights. And most importantly, I have to thank…GOOGLE! After completing this project, I have realized that the entire thing would not have been possible if it weren’t for Google’s suite of apps. Let me tell you how…
I’m sure a lot of you have utilized Google Docs. Being able to have five group members (my teammates and myself) work on the same document at the exact same time, and in real time, was truly remarkable. You may not realize it as you are doing it, but the idea to have five people from different parts of the state working together at once is a true example of what technology can do in education.
We were able to create, update, maintain, and organize our entire project as we progressed through the different stages.
Google Forms allowed us to gather critical feedback from one another, as well as a beta tester, in order to make appropriate changes to our website. Both distributing and gathering that feedback as quickly as possible is key, especially when working under a deadline. Google Forms gathers the information immediately after the person filling it out submits it.
No surprise here, but Gmail was the catalyst for communication. Several dozen emails were sent out or received during the course of this project. But sometimes, I was able to see if one of my teammates was online, and within Gmail, I simply chose to chat with him or her. At one point, three of us were chatting in the same box, trying to determine if we met all of the requirements of the project. Gmail alone allowed all kinds of methods to communicate – not just email.
In order to organize our unit in the most comprehensible way, one team member suggested Google Sites. Creating a website with different pages is easy. Best yet, inserting all kinds of embedded widgets not only enhances the website, it was very simple to do. This website is the project. We all had access to work on our different pages and embed the different resources. I never saw a website come together more quickly. Many hands made for light work.
And the biggest “Thank you” has to go to Google Hangouts. I’ll be honest. I never really used Google Hangouts. But we needed a way to have all five of us communicate in real time with one another. Instant messaging would have been too cumbersome and slowed the process. Without a paid subscription, Skype won’t let you talk with more than one person. So I thought…here’s our chance. We all signed up for a regular Google+ account, because our school Google accounts won’t allow Google+. We all logged in and began our video conferencing at the same time. Here’s a tutorial on how to start a Google Hangout and what you can do while you are in there.
We were able to actually record one of our Hangouts for a podcast project we had to do. The Hangout is recorded to one of the user’s YouTube account where we ended up just using the audio.
Not only is this app FREE with your FREE Google+ account, it was pivotal for us in getting everyone on the same page and sharing ideas through video and audio.
So without further ado, here is our Freedom Casters website with our unit on Inequalities. Keep in mind that the entire preproduction, production, and post production was performed by five people who live in different parts of the state and never once met face-to-face during the entire duration of the project.
Technology can truly change education for the better. Thanks, Google.
P.S. How have you used Google Hangouts for education? Or how would you use it? Leave your ideas in the comments below.
Just found this blog entry that shares some other GREAT ideas on how to use Google Hangouts in the classroom. CLICK HERE.