Gamify your classroom with Google Forms

Gamification and badges in education have been ideas floating around for a few years now. Some educators have jumped on the band wagon only to abandon the concept soon after. Often, one of the obstacles to effective implementation is proper technological support (1). The good news is Google Forms is a relatively simple (and free!) tool to help implement gamification elements into education.

What are “badges” & “gamificationGamification and badges in education using Google Forms“?

Badges in education and the idea of gamification is one way teachers can help motivate students in the classroom and help students keep track of effort and achievement.

Gamification can be defined as:

the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals.

Source: https://badgeville.com/wiki/Gamification

The idea is much like the concept behind the Scouts movement – achieve something, earn a badge. Many popular video games also use a badge system, and many of our students enjoy and understand this way of measuring achievement. So it makes sense to use a badges systems in the classroom.

To find out more about using badges in the classroom, have a look at this article:

http://www.edudemic.com/guides/the-teachers-guide-to-badges-in-education/

Automating gamification & badges in education on a (very!) limited budget

Gamification and badges in the learning environment has been of interest to me for sometime. However, within the learning environment I have been working with, the concept would be very labour intensive to implement and track. While playing around with Google Forms, an idea came to me – surely Google Apps script could be used in a self-marking quiz to send a badge to a supplied email address if a certain score was achieved in the quiz?

So I wrote an algorithm and found some potential providers on Fiverr.com. I contacted them to outline what I wanted. Within hours I had settled with the wonderful Riyafaahf who provided me exactly what I wanted in less than a day.

And below you’ll be able to grab the code and instructions for yourself.

Automating badges in Google Forms

How it works

The student completes a self-marking quiz in Google forms and provides an email address. If the student achieves a certain mark, they will receive a badge via email.

Here is a simple, sample quiz for you to try out and see how it works (don’t worry, I won’t ever use your email address for anything else):

https://goo.gl/forms/9CPFp5Kc4VJFQlV92

What you will need

  • Access to Google Forms (either through Google Drive or G Suite for Education)
  • Student email addresses (they do not have to be Gmail)
  • An image for your badge (this will be emailed to the student should they achieve a certain score) saved to your Google Drive
  • The code on this page
  • The file ID for your Google Sheet where quiz responses will be collected and the file ID of the badge file  (don’t worry, getting these is easy – see the video if you’re not sure)
  • Devices for students to respond to the form (works well across most platforms including smart phones and tablets)

Planning

It might be a good idea to start off with a smaller topic area with a few quizzes (and badges). This allows you to test the waters and the technology. Your badges with be based on the required student outcomes.

It might also be a good idea to think about what you would like students to do with the badges they collect. One simple idea is having each student create a simple eportfolio in Google Slides to save their badges in.

Tips for setting up your quiz in Google Form

Watch video tutorial for visual step-by-step instructions.

You need to save your Google Form as a self-marking quiz and make sure the responses are being collected into a Google Sheet.

  • Make sure you are collecting email addresses. This can be done by asking for an email address in the quiz (use data validation to ensure the address provided appears valid) or selecting the option to collect email addresses in a  G Suite for Education school.
  • Mark all questions as “required”.
  • Select “Make this a quiz” in the form settings.
  • Go through each question and add your points and select the correct answer.

Adding the “Send badge” code

Watch video tutorial for visual step-by-step instructions.

This adds the badge ‘magic’ – sending the badge to the student’s email once they submit their responses.

Below is the code, ready for you to insert your information. You will need to copy it, paste it into your Google Form Script Editor and replace the variable information with your information.

If your browser does not select the code automatically, select all the code from line 1 to line 21 and copy it.

Send badge for Google Forms quiz
 
function onSubmit(e) {
  var sheet = SpreadsheetApp.openById(e.source.getDestinationId()).getSheets()[0];
  //var sheet = SpreadsheetApp.openById("REPLACEwithGoogleSheetsFileID").getSheets()[0];
  var lastRow = sheet.getLastRow();
  var score = sheet.getRange(lastRow, 3).getValue();
  var email = sheet.getRange(lastRow, 2).getValue();
  var subject = "REPLACE with Email Subject";
  if(score>7){
    var body = "REPLACE with Your Email Message.";
    var id ="REPLACEwithYourBadgeFileID";
    var fileBlob = DriveApp.getFileById(id).getBlob();
    GmailApp.sendEmail(email, subject, body, {
      attachments: [fileBlob]
    });
  }else{
    var url = "https://goo.gl/forms/REPLACEwithYourFormURL"
    var body = "Good try at the quiz. Have another try to improve your score and earn your solar system expert badge. You can access the quiz at "+ url;
    GmailApp.sendEmail(email, subject, body);
    
  }
}

 

To paste the code into your form:

  • Go to your Google Form
  • Click on the 3 dots at the top right of the screen
  • Select select <> Script Editor…
  • File > New > Project
  • Paste the code
  • Give your project a name
  • Replace variable information as required (see table below)
  • Click on Resources > Current Project’s Triggers
  • Click to add a new trigger. The triggers should look as follows (should be the default):
    Google Apps Script triggers screen shot
  • Review and authorise permissions

You will need to change all or some of the following information for the variables (depending on how your form and spreadsheet are set up). The table below should help you work out what you need to replace.

Line numberVariable to replaceWhat to replace it with
03REPLACEwithGoogleSheetsFileIDThe ID of the Google Sheet collecting your form information
053Column number in the Google Sheet that contains the quiz score
062Column number in the Google Sheet that contains the email address of the student
07REPLACE with Email SubjectReplace with the text for the subject of the email the student will receieve
087Replace with the minimum score a student should achieve to receive the badge
09REPLACE with Your Email Message.Replace with the text for the email message body for students who achieve the badge
10REPLACEwithYourBadgeFileIDReplace with the ID of your badge file in Google Drive
16https://goo.gl/forms/REPLACEwithYourFormURLReplace with the URL of your Google Form
17Good try at the quiz. Have another try to improve your score and earn your solar system expert badge. You can access the quiz atReplace with the message you would like students to receive who DO NOT achieve the badge.

Test your form

Watch video tutorial for visual step-by-step instructions.

Make sure you test your form before you unleash it on your students. Use the preview button to respond to the form. Check to make sure you get the badge when you answer the right number of questions correctly and you DON’T get the badge when don’t get enough questions right.

Sharing your form

Watch video tutorial for visual step-by-step instructions.

Once you’ve tested your quiz and everything is working okay, you are ready to share! You can email a link or provide a written link. I find the Google Forms URL shortener pretty clunky so I usually use bit.ly and create a custom, easy to understand URL.

Video tutorial: Automating gamification in education with Google Forms

Other helpful resources

12 free badge images:

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/12-Free-Badge-Images-for-Classroom-Gamification-2954231

Over 120 editable badge images (paid resource):

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/120-badges-and-images-for-gamification-in-the-classroom-2954139

 

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Digital student workbooks with Google Slides

There are lots of different ways to use Google Create digital student workbooks with Google SlidesDrive apps in the classroom. Google Slides offers many possibilities. One way of using Google Slides in the classroom is developing digital student workbooks that include different types of activities. You can take a static, paper based, black and white worksheet or workbook and make it interactive and colourful, incorporating different ways of engaging with information and demonstrating understanding.

Items you can include in your digital workbook include:

  • words and images (I know, obvious)
  • multimedia including YouTube videos
  • links to other resources
  • short answer activities
  • drag and drop activities
  • extended response activities
  • links to a quiz in Google Forms
  • links to a Google Classroom
  • collaborative activities
  • student portfolio

The ability to create drag and drop activities is particularly appealing. Below is a short video tutorial showing you how to create drag and drop activities in your workbook that prevent student from accidentally moving the wrong elements on the page. This is done by using the “Slide > Background image” feature of Google Slides.

Advantages of digital workbooks with Google Slides

  • Free!
  • Reduce paper.
  • Easy to distribute via your preferred method. For example, email, Google Drive sharing, Google Classroom.
  • Does not require G Suite for Education (just Google Drive).
  • Can differentiate by developing different versions for students aiming to achieve at different levels.
  • Ability to incorporate different learning activities.

Free sample digital workbook

Below is a link to the sample workbook shown in the video. Feel free to make a copy for yourself and use it as you like:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1z9sfkNXCYxebr1Fe8U1A7dtuGIDzuD7RATBXnixgXuw

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Student-centred learning environments with G Suite for Education

Like many educators around the globe, last weIdeal student learning environmentekend I had the opportunity to participate in Google’s virtual “Education on Air: It takes a teacher” conference. There were options to “attend” the event in Australia and New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the Americas. I chose the Australian event (being Australian) and it was refreshing the hear presenters speaking my “language” educationally.

However, whilst the contexts were Australian, the key messages were universal.

3 key take-aways from Education on Air

  • technology is not a cure for ineffective educational systems and poor pedagogy
  • the importance of student voice
  • balancing consistency with flexibility and meeting learner needs

Essentially it is about moving towards the ideal, learner-centred environment that combines student ownership, personalised learning, mastery based learning and positive relationships between peers and educators. The focus of the sessions was how G Suite for Education was being used by educators to help achieve this.

Below I have outlined ideas from 3 of the sessions I found most useful, along with the videos of the sessions.

Meeting the needs of 21st Century learners – Google Classrooms, Learner Agency and Universal Design for Learning

“Rather than finding a digital educational cure, [Dr. Kentaro Toyama] came to understand…technology’s ‘Law of Amplification’: technology could help education where it’s already doing well, but it does little for mediocre educational systems.”

Dr Kentaro Toyama in Time Magazine.

This session was presented by Claire Amos, Deputy Principal,  Hobsonville Point Secondary School.

This school is unique as it is a “greenfield”, planned school. Twelve months was spent on research, the designed space and pedagogy, including technology.

The mandate was rethinking what secondary education is and expecting teachers in particular to let go of their preconceptions. The key tool for their blended learning solution is G Suite for Education and, in particular, Google Classroom.

The schools approach to curriculum has 3 components:

  1. Learning hubs – “home room on steroids”. Idea of “learning coach”, the students’ “important adult” at school.
  2. Learning projects – two thirds of every Wednesday focused on long term projects. Tend to be community based – “we not me”.
  3. Learning modules – both stand alone and integrated subjects. Working with colleagues across curriculum areas.

Hobsonville Point Secondary School have kindly made available their E-Learning Best Practice Guide which is available here:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SRFj3JYLUabd2pjHNSRVVRQMyAycQJCJTTZnp9o0WlI/edit

While many of us do not have the luxury of a 1-on-1 or a purpose designed school, the ideas can be implemented in most learning environments that have access to some technology.

Claire identified that, for their students, the key is a balance between consistency in delivery (students know what to expect and how to access what they need) and student voice and student choice (multiple modes of engagement and expression). Google Classroom is the tool which helps meet these needs.

Below is a video of the session.

 Xavier High School – From DER to Freedom

This session was presented by Ben ThomasTwitterg, Learning and Digital Pedagogy Coordinator, Xavier High School Albury.

(“DER” stands for “Digital Education Revolution”, a now defunct government program in Australia.)

This school’s approach was to leverage available funding and create a medium term plan to benefit the school and students with specific, measurable goals.

The school transitioned from Win PCs provided under a government funded program to Chromebooks after an extensive trial. The affordability of Chromebooks vs PCs meant they could go to a 1-to-1 environment and could update the hardware every 2 years. This means they could maximise access to G Suite tools. Because not all students have access to Internet at home, it is important that the G Suite tools were available offline on the Chromebooks.

The school’s goal was to improve literacy and numeracy using technology tools, in particular Chromebooks and G Suite for Education. Data supports that this has happened although time did not permit an explanation of exactly what technology helped achieve this.

G Suite is also used for organisation at the school, e.g., substitution lessons and teacher absences.

Below is a video of the session.

Using Google in the Student Engagement context

This session was presented by Ian Thomson, Director of IT and Timothy French, Director of Student Engagement at Amaroo School.

The school is a public school in ACT (Canberra). The school offers Years 6-10, and has 1000 students. The specific case study presented looked at the use of G Suite as part of a student welfare solution. The school has a diverse student base and needs.

The school has a  “student tech team”. This team development a Google Site as a student engagement site. The aim of the site was to provide an opportunity for students to empower themselves and access what they need for their wellbeing and education. Students designed, proto-typed, tested and refined the site. An important note is that students built it but they cannot access the data.

The advantage of using G Suite to help manage student welfare – engagement, pastoral care and behaviour is it is something students already use and are familiar with. The school is using G Suite to:

– to communicate opportunities to all students.
– reach more students.
– empower students.
– allow communication from parents.
– staff resources to help with student welfare.
– access welfare services.
– triage tool, predominately for mental health.

Some students may be more likely to engage with services through technology in the first instance.

The idea can easily be implemented in any school and personalised to fit the needs it’s students.

Below is the video to the full session.

 

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Flip your classroom using G Suite for Education

One popular current trend in education is the concFlipped classrooms with G Suite for Educationept of the flipped classroom. The flipped classroom can be defined as:

… a pedagogical model in which the typical
lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions.

https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7081.pdf

Below is an infographic with some tips on ‘how to flip a classroom’ along with potential benefits to flipping your classroom. Of course, G Suite for Education provides excellent technological tools to assist in blended learning and flipped classrooms. Some ideas:

  • Share content including video through Google Slides, Google Collections, Google Sites and Google Classroom
  • Evaluate learning using quizzes in Google Forms
  • Create learning communities using Google+ and Google Hangouts.

One of the advantages of using G Suite for Education to flip your classroom is its cross platform compatibility – whether iOS, Apple, Windows, Android, Linux, Chrome OS (and possibly dome others I may have missed!)

However, it is important to be conscious of the ‘digital divide’ – some students may not have access to the Internet at home which means they cannot prepare for class under a flipped model. An alternative is ‘flipping’ within the classroom. For examples, stations where students alternate between watching a video and taking a quizz online, a group discussion with their teacher,  applying new skills and knowledge and working on a longer-term project.

However you blend, the G Suite for Education toolkit is a terrific asset.

Here are some other posts that can help with blended learning ideas:

4 Google Apps tools to blend your classroom today: http://googleappsaction.com/?p=286

Creating mini-lessons using Google Slides in 6 easy steps: http://googleappsaction.com/?p=292

FlipClass_2b
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

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Create blank PDFs in Google Classroom

Another month and another handy fLearn how to create blank PDFs in Google Classroom for iOS and Androideature update in Google Classroom. This feature was first released for Android and is now also available for iOS. Students can create blank PDFs and submit them as part of an assignment in Google Classroom. Students can annotate their blank PDFs freehand using pen, marker and highlighter tools as well as a text tool. (At the time of writing, this feature was not available for the web/Chrome OS versions of Google Classroom).

There are many useful applications for these blank PDFs in Google Classroom. Students can now draw, draft or design directly within Google Classroom. The zoom in and out feature can make it easier for students with poor handwriting to write information (particularly useful for mathematics). Students can use either their fingers or a stylus.

The short video below show how the tool can be used from a student’s perspective.

 

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Google Classroom basics: cheat sheet for teachers

OnFREE Google Classroom basics: cheat sheet for teacherse of the most powerful features of G Suite for Education (formerly Google Apps for Education) is the Google Classroom app. Google Classroom is ONLY available with G Suite for Education. Google Classroom is also free and integrates beautifully with other Google apps such as Google Drive and Google Calendar. The mobile apps are also excellent and have the additional advantage of allowing annotation of documents.

There are previous posts specifically on the benefits and features of Google Classroom. You can access those here:

http://googleappsaction.com/?cat=38

Below is a link to a 4-page ‘cheat sheet’ created to get teachers up and running with Google Classroom quickly and without hassle. It is in Google Doc format so you will be able to create a copy for yourself and you can edit the copy if you wish. The cheat sheet can be accessed electronically or printed if preferred.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1OG8Vf0M7hTcfHvQgZInbeFblIz6PGW5unp4e_nahUgU/edit?usp=sharing

To create a copy of the cheat sheet:

In order to edit the cheat sheet, you will need to make a copy to your own Google Drive.

  • Click on the link provide. It will be ‘View only’.
  • From the ‘File’ menu select ‘Make a copy…’
  • Follow the prompts to name and save your file

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Annotating documents in Google Classroom

As of August, 2016, in the mobile versions of the Google Classroom app (iOS and Android):

Teachers and students can draw on, highlight, and write notes on documents and PDFs in the Classroom mobile app

https://support.google.com/edu/classroom/answer/6149237?hl=en

This is a terrific feature that adds to the flexibility and usefulness of GoogleLearn how to annotate files in Google Classroom Classroom. Users can now annotate PDFs and Google Drive documents distributed via Google Classroom. How might this be used in your classroom?

  • Students can highlight and annotate their work for study purposes without the need to print it out, saving money and avoiding lost work.
  • Students can take photos and annotate them for the assignments.
  • Distribute digital interactive notebooks and worksheets.
  • For students with poor fine motor skills and difficulty hand writing, the annotation feature in Google Classroom allows them to zoom in and write in a big space rather than having to cram writing into smaller spaces which can sometimes happen with paper based activities.
  • Annotate with or without a stylus.

As other ideas come up, I will add them to the list. Feel free to share your own!

Below is a video tutorial outlining the features of annotations in Google Classroom from the student’s perspective. The document used is a Google Slides presentation.

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Google Apps for Education and Universal Design for Learning

I recently had the opportunity to attend an excellent workshop presented by Leanne Woodley from AIS NSW on Universal GAfE and UDL: supporting inclusionDesign for Learning (UDL). UDL has inspired me to look at inclusion in a different way. It is a step beyond differentiation as it may be typically implemented which I discussed in the context of Google Classroom in a previous post.  Within the UDL framework learning is designed to be inclusive rather than making adjustments as an after thought.

According to National Centre on Universal Design for Learning:

Universal Design for Learning is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn.

http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl

Here is a short video giving an overview of UDL:

So where does Google Apps for Education fit in to all this? UDL does not require technology to be implemented. However, technology can be a very powerful tool. It embeds digital literacy into learning which is a relevant 21st century skill, with relevance being part of the UDL guidelines. For some students, it also allows them to use skills and technologies they are already comfortable with. Building on existing student knowledge is also within the UDL guidelines.

I am looking forward to implementing UDL within my classes. In the meantime, I have put together a table of three GAfE tools and how they may work to support UDL. I plan to add to this as my experience with UDL grows.

UDL & Google Apps for Education

Google Apps toolMultiple means of engagementMultiple means of representationMultiple means of action and expression
Google DriveEncourage students to collaborate on projects created in Google Drive.


Invite opportunities for self reflection using Google Forms.


Use comments feature to provide feedback that encourages perseverance, focuses on development of efficacy and self-awareness.

Use Google Forms to check for background knowledge.

Access Google Drive through choice of device.


Encourage planning using choice of Google Drive option and provide feedback through comments.


Assertive technologies that can be used with Google Drive include using mouth stylus on touch devices or option to use voice to text for typing.


Option to collate resources/ideas in Google Drive using 'Save to Drive' extension.
Google ClassroomClearly outline goals and objectives and encourage students to revisit these.


Encourage students to ask questions in the stream or privately.


Allow students to work at their pace.


Offer choices in how students engage e.g., PC, tablet, smart phone.


Provide varied sources of information.


Encourage active participation.


Option to use provided template(s).


Set assessments with option to complete at different levels of complexity.


Use announcements and email reminders to support predictability.


Provide resources in different formats, e.g., fact sheets, Prezi, YouTube video, podcast.


Use question and discussion feature to highlight 'big ideas'.


Use questions and discussions to clarify information.


Ensure access to pre-requisite/background information is available.

Accept evidence of learning in different formats including Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Drawings, scanned file, photos, audio and video.


Use discussion feature to assist focus and direction.


Google+ / HangoutsEncourage students to participate in discussions around the design of classroom activities and academic tasks using synchronous and asynchronous social media tools in the Google+ suite.


Encourage collaboration within small groups and the whole class.


Opportunities to communicate to real audiences.

Use Google Collections to represent ideas in different formats.


Present information/ideas using Google Hangouts On Air and allow students to access recorded session at any time.

Option to collate resources/ideas using Google Collections.

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Google Drive freebies: fun, flexible templates

One thing I love as much as Google Apps for Education is freebies. And when those freebies are coGoogle Drive freebies - fun, flexible templates for the classroommbined with Google Apps – oh, happy days! I like freebies so much I’ve dedicated much of one of my Pinterest boards, The Thrifty Teacher, to free educational resources that are engaging and easy to use.

So I decided to create and share three flexible, fun and easy to use templates. I’ve used these type of templates in the past so I have put them together to offer both electronic and printable options. I always find this kind of flexibility helpful as it means I have options depending on my students and the environment we’ll be in. And sharing the files with you means you can adapt them to suit the needs of you and your class.

These templates were designed to be used with the full version of Google Slides. However, I have tried them with the latest version of the Google Slides app on the iPad and they seemed to work well.  I would expect the same would be the case with the Android apps. The mobile versions have the advantage of easily taking photos to add into the templates.

To use the templates, click on the links provided. This will open the document. From here, you will need to save the file to your Drive from the “File” menu so you can use it as want.

Fakebook status template

Inspired by Facebook, this authentic looking template allows students to create a “status” update and add an image.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1s9wa_d9VuSc_YblguKjBCfESHEx9ER7MzCBA1PJrdHM/edit?usp=sharing

Newspaper template

Create your own headlines with this newspaper template.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1dczUwblNGRHH3fuJfvHRrsgpCF1l0qflJoJHY6YH0ps

Text message template

This template allows for a short “text” exchange between, well, anyone you like! You can shrink or enlarge it based on your student needs and how you will be using it. Duplicate the slide to have an extended text exchange.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1X41FQhUKg0ggvlEwNHynuqmZM2YeQn3pO51RxN9UrDc

Side note: aaagghhh, Google Template Gallery!!

I tried to upload the templates to the Template Gallery. This has always been a hit-and-miss endeavour. This time it proved to be a…. miss! Hours after attempting to submit the templates to the Gallery, I am still being advised that my templates will be visible in the template gallery “in a moment”. Maybe they mean a Saturn moment 😉

So the links I have shared are directly from my Google Drive.

Applications for education

  • Suitable for most age groups and skill levels.
  • Can be used with many curriculum areas including History, Literature Studies, Creative Writing and Languages.
  • Customise the templates to suit your needs and the needs of your students.
  • For electronic versions of the documents, distribute using Classroom, Gmail or Google Drive.

More free Google Drive templates for educational use

http://googleappsaction.com/?p=174

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4 Google Apps tools to blend your classroom today!

Blended learning is not a new concept. It’s been around for a while. Better and more affordable softwarEasy blended learning with Google Appse solutions and improved internet access means more educational institutions are implementing blended learning solutions. Blended and elearning isn’t ‘good’ just because it is digital; it needs to meet student needs and learning goals.

Even on a budget and with limited resources, any educator can look at implementing some level of blended learning. Blended learning can help create a more individualised and flexible learning environment. Free Google Apps put blended learning solutions within everyone’s reach, whether or not you’re in a Google Apps for Education (GaFE) school. And you don’t need to be an IT expert to use them. You also don’t need to have the latest and greatest hardware and operating systems to use Google Apps.

Here I’ve collected four Google Apps that are easy for beginners to start using as part of a blended learn environment. I’ve included some ideas on how you can use them and links to resources to get you started.

But before that, maybe we should talk about…..

…what is blended learning, anyway?

1. Google Classroom

Only available as part of Google Apps for Education
Available on iOS, Android, Chromebook and full Chrome browser (Windows, Linux, Mac)

Okay, this one might be a no-brainer but no discussion about Google Apps and blended learning would be complete without including Google Classroom.

Google Classroom is described as:

…a free web-based platform…[that] makes it easy to create classes, distribute assignments, communicate, and stay organized. Teachers can quickly see who has or hasn’t completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback and grades right in Classroom.

https://support.google.com/edu/classroom/answer/6020279?hl=en

Google Classroom is a very strong ally in creating a blended learning environment. As well as distributing, monitoring and marking assignments, you can share resources, post a quick question to the class and view results (great for checking understanding), and create and monitor discussions. The great thing is it allows you to share any clarifying questions or comments with the whole classroom.

Once you understand the basics, Google Classroom can be a useful tool to help you implement and manage differentiation.

It is very easy to create your first class and assignment and to have students join, especially if you have your class setup in Google Groups.

Look at the post Google Classroom Goodies for more on using Google Classroom – from the basics to pro tips.

How to access Google Classroom

Log into your GAfE account.

Go to the following website:

http://classroom.google.com

2. Google Sites

Available free with any Google account, including Google Apps for Education
Editing functionality best with full Chrome browser (Windows, Linux, Mac)
View Google Sites on any device using Chrome Browser

As great as Google Classroom is, if you try and cram too much content in, it can become cluttered and unwieldy. If you want to share content, Google Sites is a great way to do it. It is easy to create a simple site even if you’ve never created a website before.

Google Sites is described as:

… a structured wiki- and Web page-creation tool… People can work together on a Site to add file attachments, information from other Google applications.

It is a great way to keep all relevant content related to a class in one place and makes it easy for students to stay up-to-date. You can easily organise different topics or modules into different ‘levels’ on your Google Site and develop it as you go. It also allows students to work at their own pace, provides opportunities for you as the teacher to include formative assessments and to easily make available extension tasks for students who need to be challenged.

As well as embedding other Google apps and YouTube videos, you can also embed other media into your Google Sites. I often include Prezis and Zaption videos, allowing me to use and curate existing content rather than having to create everything from scratch. You can also include the Google Classroom calendar on the site to help students keep track of due dates or a quiz using Google Forms.

Google Sites are also a great way for students to present evidence of learning and portfolios of work. Just like Google Drive apps, Google Sites can be collaborative.

And you don’t have to know anything about web design to use Google Sites. Try the Beginner’s guide to creating a site if you’d like some direction.

Not sure where to start? Create a page with a YouTube video and a Google Form with a few questions to check for understanding. Instant (well nearly) online mini-class!

Web design purists like to criticise the limitations and quirks of Google Sites but I have found no quicker or easier way to create websites as I need them.

How to access Google Sites

Login to your Google account.

Go to the following website:

http://sites.google.com

3. Google Slides

Available free with any Google account, including Google Apps for Education
Editing functionality best with full Chrome browser (Windows, Linux, Mac)
Apps with fewer features available for iOS and Android

Ahhhh, Google Slides. One of my (almost) daily go-tos. So versatile, so easy to use and a great way to introduce blended learning practices.

Google describes Google Slides as:

… an online presentations app that allows you to show off your work in a visual way.

Google Slides can be used as part of a blended learning solution in several ways:

Google Slides can be embedded into a website or blog (like the one above in this post). They are easy to use and easily allow the insertion of links, videos, diagrams, etc.

Google Slides is part of the Google Drive suite.

4. Google Forms

Available free with any Google account, including Google Apps for Education
Editing functionality best with full Chrome browser (Windows, Linux, Mac)
View Google Forms on any device using Chrome Browser

Google Forms offer a lot of possibilities, from the basic to the complex. The great thing is you don’t have to be a guru to get started with Google Forms which is the reason I selected it as part of my easy-to-use blended tools list.

According to Google:

You can plan events, make a survey or poll, give students a quiz, or collect other information in an easy, streamlined way with Google Forms. You can create a form from Google Drive or from an existing spreadsheet that can record the responses to your form.

Google Forms is so easy to use that you could set up your first short quiz in 5 minutes even if you’ve never used Google Forms before. Your students answer the questions and these are saved in a Google Sheet for you to review the answers. If you are part of a GAfE school, you’ll now exactly who has (and hasn’t!) taken the quiz.

Take it to the next level and add images and YouTube videos and have students answer questions based on those.

You can even create self-grading quizzes with a free add-on called Flubaroo. Another use for Google Forms is creating branched learning scenarios where students are directed to, for example, a video or link depending on their quiz responses.

However you choose to use Google Forms, part of its power is that you can quickly and easily check student understanding, apply any required intervention and keep track of progress and student development.

Of course, this would be part of a wider blended learning and assessment process.

Google Forms is part of the Google Drive suite.

So what are you waiting for? There’s no excuse to not start blending today!

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