The online learning or “cloud” experience is a powerful and increasingly popular tool for educators Denton, D. (2012). We are always looking for ways to engage our students in an immersive environment with rich opportunities for collaboration and engagement as we approach pedagogy in the classroom. Web-based learning platforms and the design and necessary structure of these online learning platforms are mentioned in the readings. I followed these particular readings with interest because of the learning environment we are trying to create at the school as a professional learning community.
The Google Docs Suite is central to the collaboration we need as teachers with very busy professional lives. In the reading it is clear the docs need to follow a constructivist or cooperative learning approach in order for the learners to have an immersive experience. Denton mentions several approaches to use with Google Docs including group projects, simultaneous discussion and collaborative rubric creation as examples of how learners can interact with each other in a mutually beneficial way (Denton, 2012). At our school, we are using Google Docs as a collaborative tool in teacher’s professional growth plans, as admin meeting agendas, and as a place to list concerns or requests. As I look at how we are using the Google Docs, I see now the only one in the above list that falls into a “learning” category is the TPGP example. The science department is using Google Docs as a place for teachers to share, analyze and come to common consensus on what assessment comments will be used in D2L. These comments will be directly linked to the program of studies and have a “parent-friendly” vocabulary. I believe this instance of using Google Docs falls into Denton’s definition of a cooperative learning framework. The other examples I mention above are using Google Docs on a surface level; a place to to list things. This also serves a purpose though. It allows teachers a very easy way to get familiar with Google Docs and therefore makes it easy to use as a learning tool with each other or the students in the future.
The next tech push in our building will be to create a website designed to help teachers with the use of iPads coming to us for use with our ELL student population. Lynch and Horton make it very clear the old adage “Build it and they will come” is not true when it comes to websites (Lynch & Horton, 2011). Websites have to tread very carefully through the design process and if it is intended to be a learning tool, it has to follow some form of learning model such as ADDIE (Lee et al., 2002 ). I will be working closely with my technology mentor teacher (TMT) at my school to cover the web design process steps such as, knowing our audience, communicating the top 3 goals of the project, and researching current sites which already exist regarding these same goals. After doing some of these critical first steps, we will then be prepared to move into the actual design of the site itself. The creation of a functional, useful site is going to take more time than I had first thought but the process of knowing what it is you want to create (your end goals) is a crucial part of the process. The A in ADDIE stands for analysis and it is important we analyze exactly what we want our learners to know after they have visited the website BEFORE we begin to create the site.
Denton, D. (2012). Enhancing Instruction through Constructivism, Cooperative Learning, and Cloud Computing. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 56(4), 34-41.
Lee, W. W., Owens, D. L., & Benson, A. D. (2002). Design Considerations for Web-Based Learning Systems. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 4, 405-423.
Lynch, P. J., & Horton, S. (2011). Information architecture. Web Style Guide, 3rd Ed. Retrieved from http://webstyleguide.com/wsg3/3-information-architecture/2-organizing-information.html.