Monday, 17 October 2016

How Effectively Am I Utilizing My Tech Tools?



When thinking of all the tech tools I use it gets to be a long list: GAFE, YouTube, Khan Academy, Blogger, Projectors, Laptops, Ipads, BYOD, just to list the most common ones. I will take a critical look at one of them to help me decide if I am utilizing it to its full potential or not. With so many options I feel I should focus on Google Docs, used through Google Classroom specifically. Google Docs is a software that is used frequently within my classes. The goal with using Google Docs is to ensure that every student is able to have access to the assignment. When this is occurring there are a variety of levels that I use the software.

Many times it is used simply at a substitution level. What I mean by that is, instead of taking notes, vocabulary, or answering basic comprehension questions in a notebook it is done through Google Docs. In terms of pros vs cons for this level of usage:

Pros:
- Documents are saved automatically
- Students work is neat and typically more organized
- Easier to have the student share their document with me for a quick edit

Cons"
- Work can be copied
- Wifi connection
- Not enough physical tech for every student

When I utilize the software through the platform Google Classroom and I have given the students direct questions where they need to research or complete the assignment with the tools this is where the Augmentation level is

Pros:
- I am able to check on each student from my own classroom space as all their documents are linked to my account
- Students can access this on almost any popular device (tablet, phone, computer)
- If a student is absent they are able to stay on top of their classwork and not fall behind (blended classroom)
- I am able to see every edit and change for each student, so if one tried to copy and paste answers it would be evident.

Cons:
- Lack of parental connection with work
- Wifi connection
- Not enough physical tech for every student (BYOD rules and standards have to be set)

When taking my assignments to the next level and forcing my students to work in groups around a topic with other students not within their class this is where Google Docs potential starts to augment/redesign our way of thinking about the typical classroom and assignment. I have my students do a group project with their partners outside of their individual class. They have to use their class time appropriately and do their part in helping out the group and accomplishing the task needed to.

Pros:
- Students are learning about responsibility
- Working together as a team in an unfamiliar setting
- Ownership to their work and group as a whole
- Seeing the ingenuity of the students working and utilizing the tool to its full potential by leaving notes, comments, and idea maps within the document for everyone to see and build upon.


Cons:
- Some students do not do as much as others.
- Lack of technology for each student when needed
- Wifi connection

When looking within my pod of grade alike teachers I feel that I have very little opponents with using the software.  I am supported through the families to the point that many families send their children with devices specifically for school.   I am very lucky to be in the school I am in.  When looking at the other negative pressures around using Google Docs, comes from the devices that they are being used on.  Whether it is a phone, tablet, or laptop, each of these devices comes with other software, that can be distracting to students.  
Google Docs for Teachers and Students

If I am not mobile within my classroom and physically seeing what my students are working on the amount and quality of work is lower.  I feel this is present in any form of teaching and the technology is not the root cause of poor behavior.  If the students are allowed to be off task, then that is how they will learn to function.  It is not the technology that becomes distracting, but the lack of awareness for the teacher that causes poor behavior and mismanagement of the tool. 

In terms of how this tool affects my pedagogical stance.  I feel that it mainly advances the learning opportunities for my students.  With support from the school, families and community I feel there is an urge for the students to become more proficient, more independent and more capable of doing tasks by themselves.  Through a big push of behaviorism theory along with collectivism in combination technology tools the way I am I feel that my students are gaining those qualities.  Obviously some are better at it than others, but that is what teaching is, learning how to adapt for everyone involved in your classroom.  The adaptations you can make through the use of technology is so much faster, and easier than it was 10 years ago.  Using technology gives the teacher the opportunity to teach to the individual more frequently than ever before.