A couple weeks ago I was finishing up my last couple classes for my Master's (while exciting, not the center of this post). The last project for my Adult Learning course was a group project. We were given a theory and were charged with the task of designing a case study. It was left to us if we wanted to create a paper, but a presentation to share with the class was mandatory. It seems kind of odd to make it a requirement for a presentation to be made, but here is the reason.
The class was an online course.
An online group project, that sounds crazy and impossible. Well, to be honest, it was neither. It was not a crazy assignment nor was it impossible. While desire2learn (I am calling it E-Learning from here on out) has some software to allow for file sharing, it is not tremendously helpful in file creating. The solution was simple, Google.
I took the lead in getting my group members over to Google. I provided any assistance that I could via our group discussion board on E-Learning. The transition was smooth. Collaboration immediately occurred as we were able to work and chat in real time. Utilizing the comment feature allowed us to make notes for each other when we work on the assignment on our own, and it was a great success.
Regardless of a campus being a Google powered campus or not, why are we not teaching these tools in our work/classroom? We expect students to learn to work in groups. We often are found working together on various projects. We probably assume that students already know about Google. We probably take advantage of our shared drive and are always wishing we can access it from home. At the end of the day, where is the formalization and confirmation that we all do in fact know about Google?
Is it perhaps that we are unsure of its potential? Is it that we have not been formally trained? I have no formal training, but I can tell you some of the immediate benefits of using Google:
Collaborative work spaces - Work in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel like documents all at the same time! While I don't suggest it as a final product, it does generate great rough drafts of papers/presentations/publications.
Sharing is Caring - Google Drive is much like the shared drives on our computers. We can create folders and files to share with each other. Great for group research, creating an inter office filing system of commonly used documents.
Professional email - This one is a trick because you do not have to have Gmail to have an account with Google, but as we talk about being career ready, a student could take advantage of Gmail and create a professional looking address to use on resumes.
Embedding - There is the ability to embed your material into websites, online portfolios, and whatever other embed enabled tools you have access too. My tutorials on this site are nothing more than Google Slideshows.
Google+ - Much like a professional email, a Google+ profile is an exceptional way to start building a positive, professional identity for you or your students. Most people use Google to do their internet searches. Google+ is a product of Google. The opportunity for someone to see that profile is almost immediate. Take advantage of that and start sharing yourself in a professional manner. No to mention the capabilities of Google communities, hangouts, and a few other extra perks (more on that perhaps later)
These 5 simple benefits is truly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using Google. Now, check with your institution things like information storage, but for the most part, you will be good. It sounds like one more thing to learn, but this is a real time saver in the long run. If you have questions or if you have success stories using Google, comment below!
For those of you that want to see the presentation we built, it is embedded below in the good ole practice what you preach approach. :)