Pedagogy plus google docs

Recently I sat through a presentation that was presented on Google Docs. The presenter had chosen Google Docs as a shareable tool and emailed the document as a read only file for all attendees. It was shared and we could all read the information together so at first glance it seemed like an appropriate use of the tool.

What is wrong with this? Well, if we use the SAMR model (Puendetura) it only sits st the S layer. It is a direct substitution for handing out a piece of paper to all students and then reading it aloud with them. It is an action done to students that does not offer them agency or encourage engagement or knowledge construction. All it does is save the paper. It is a good start and is a good basic use of the tool – but with a few easy tweaks thinking about SAMR, learner agency, social constructivism and gamification – it can be a much more meaningful, fun and memorable learning experience.

1. Flipping content.

The sharing of the document at the start of the meeting was a fantastic start. However for Flipped content to work more effectively, the document could have been shared earlier with some questions attached so that the attendees could have time to digest and process the content ahead of the meeting schedule. This would allow for more meaningful discussion in the meeting slot and invite deeper engagement with the content on offer.

2. Adding choice.

The content of the google doc in this particular case study had subheadings. This means that it already offered an easy way to add agency for students to engage with content and collaborate. Students could choose a section to add commentary within the document and then add further questions beneath each section. For this to be an easy process, the sharing settings of the document simply have to be changed to be editable rather than read only. The facilitator can lead discussion and guide students with real time questioning. The class can gain more meaningful content by inviting more participation and choice with which parts they want to focus on. Like a jigsaw activity or a rotating station activity, students can select and engage with more learner agency.

3. Make it social.

Social constructivism is spearheaded by Vygotsky and the key idea is that learning occurs through sharing content and building knowledge with discussions and social interactions. At the start of the meeting (or as part of the flipped content), the presenter could have asked students to add a question they would like to add to the overall discussion at the top of the document and also ask them to put their initials beside a question written by someone else that they would like to talk about. The presenter could then invite deeper conversation by grouping students with content they have pre-indicated that they would like to discuss. Groups can also record their findings to co-construct the document.

4. Adding a game element.

Gamification strategies are another layer to make this doc interaction more fun. The facilitator could be awarding points or stars to insightful comments in the document to encourage more interaction and engagement. A leaderboards of names could be shuffled as students raise good points or ask more questions. The ‘winner’ could be given the role of awarding points for the next discussion or they could be awarded a digital badge through the learning management system or in another shared (but not editable by the students) doc that is the leaderboard only.

5. Shifting from substitution.

Using the SAMR model again, the goal of using a digital tool is to move beyond substitution. The phases are substitution, augmentation (with minor functional improvement) Modification (allows for significant task redesign) through to Redefinition (when the task is significantly reimagined through the use of the tool). The addition of collaborative and interactive tasks, a points allocation system and a linked leaderboard make this a redesigned task that is likely to lift engagement and deepen understanding. The great thing is that the google doc’s content can be switched out for any content/any shared doc – the modeling for this lesson is about process and pedagogy and that leaves the content bit up to you.

6. Playful plenary.

At the end of the google doc you could put a link (or links) to another digital tool to cement the key points of the discussion. You could send students to padlet to add three key points to a class padlet and capture the ‘guts’ of the lesson. You could send them to Google drawings or coggle for a separate visual mind map, give them a tweet or blog challenge or even get them to draw their thoughts with felts on paper for the wall.

So just add your content to a Google doc, sprinkle in a bit more playful pedagogy you can get started with a fun and memorable teaching tool right away.

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