Thursday, 19 November 2015

Intro to Google Apps with Y10 Social Studies

Not that surprising today that there were the usual issues of no logon servers or needing to remember passwords... but was quite surprised by the overwhelming silliness that ensued while using the Google doc!

Picture this:

Class using the COWs for the second time this week and using their logons to go to a link I'd written on the board. Some students listened to the instructions well and carried on with the task (Complete a 2 minute google form survey). Others had issues with logging in to the computers, other computers weren't charged and some just forgot their passwords again.

It was chaotic because I was needed in about eight places at once and couldn't conduct or facilitate. I had to be the guide on the side - and while this is great - the skill level isn't there enough for our students to be able to do this without me yet.

Students were all on different tasks - some had finished the Form and were waiting for the next instruction. Others couldn't get on to the Form because they'd typed the link wrong. Others were apathetic and didn't have a go.

I had to stop the class a few times - to get their attention I actually had to have them look up from the screen and look at me - like primary school.

When some students were finished the Form I got them to type their names in alphabetical order down the page. Chaos ensued once more. I had written a tip at the top but they either hadn't read it or they had deleted it before I saw it. It simply said do not overwrite someone and to avoid this, push the space bar down a couple of times so that you're in a different line.

Having so many students working on one doc was chaotic. But it was a brilliant way to quickly assess their inappropriate behaviours, time wasting issues and more importantly their overwhelming silliness.

To counteract this I changed the sharing permissions to view. Got them to refresh the page. Went to revision history and went to the last time I wrote something and restarted it. I reverted the sharing permissions back to edit for the students and they refreshed so that they could try the simple task once more.

A similar thing happened. This time with less silliness but still with many Anonymous animals typing.

I stopped them again and asked them to login to their Gmail accounts and refresh the doc.

Still they were deleting what others were saying. I changed the sharing permissions once more. Talked to them as a class about expected behaviours and showed my surprise that they were behaving so strangely as they are normally quite a mature bunch of kids.

We started again. This time I added a table where they had their own space. I scrapped the alphabetical idea and just got them all to write their own names in a box each. Still anonymous animals but more student's names this time.
They began checking out the fonts, sizes and used this as a teaching moment to discuss the best font size - we didn't go down the controversial font type discussion though - and changed colour and backgrounds for their own names.
I then got them to highlight their names and add a comment as to a struggle and area they enjoyed that session.  Some silly behaviours then too but it's all a learning lesson at the end of the day.

For what was meant to take five minutes - it took the full hour. But jeez it was good to deal with that silliness now and get it out of their systems. Because that kind of collaboration, participation, managing self and relating to others is critical. 

The main issues were the fact that they were all collaborating in one place. It was noisy and it was a novelty. I can only imagine what the backchannel was like in the chat... Some strategies I've thought of include:

1) Get them to sign in to their Google Account first before doing any GDocs stuff. Avoids the silly Anonymous Tuatara stuff... and creates more accountability on what they're writing and who they're writing on top of...or deleting as the case may be...
2) Write instructions in a clear space on the board until they get into the habit of finding the work they need. Make each task simple until they become self-regulated.
3) They need to learn some basic workarounds - like using the ethernet cables or grabbing the power cable when the laptop is dying or dead, instead of just putting the laptop back and getting a different one.
4) Limited computer skills - typing and completing tasks online isn't as easy for some students.
5) Digital Citizenship and Key Competencies - need to be discussed and embedded. Absolutely critical. Because what happened today was a clear indication that they didn't have those skills sorted. We need to keep working on this.

Yesterday I reflected on the fact that I didn't give them the Drive Cheat sheet I'd made. I printed it out today but they didn't use it or didn't try it out properly.

I still need to look at the responses for the Survey...

I'm absolutely adamant now that our students need upskilling just as much as our staff.

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