Google Sites for collaboration and measuring progress
Already this year there has been several naturally occurring opportunities to promote the use of Google Sites for collaboration and measuring progress.
The first was during the January staff development training session where colleagues (some who didn’t even have Gmail accounts at the start of the session) worked together to build a wiki using as many of the Google Apps features to support their work. The approach was to introduce the group to Google Docs and demonstrate how to collaborate on a document. The next step was to create a Google Site and invite all participants to join with editing rights. As we only had 2 hours i had already created the site and added some pages which contained an activity brief. In pairs staff had to complete the collaborative activities remotely (although we were all in the same room), therefore any communications between group members must be via the site or using Gmail (or Circles). Like in a office environment colleagues were able to discuss, question, and ponder with the people sat directly next to them which promoted peer review and support. I was able to monitor progress remotely as well as circulate the room to provide any technical support. The outcome was the final wiki which was accessible for all colleagues to see.
This week I tried the same approach with a group of 14-16 year old learners. The result was equally impressive and the final wiki will be assessed as part of their module assignment. The main difference was that many of the learners already had gmail accounts and most were a lot more confident to explore the product independently. I was fortunate that in addition to the Learning Support Assistant who works with the group on a weekly basis I also had a volunteer. One of their directed activities was to remote ‘review’ and ‘check’ learners and highlight any areas for improvement during the task. The impact of this was extremely powerful especially around basic spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes (and also plagiarism!). One other benefit of this was the ability to use the ‘page revisions’ feature which allowed for learners to access previous versions if work was deleted or change by mistake.