Gauging Googles’ Gains: A K-6 Educators Perspective

Teacher Blogger  |  By Lori 

google apps for edThe Google for Education (GSuite) website claims it has the potential to make learning accessible for all and research has begun to evaluate its efficacy. Astute educators rely on research to inform their practice and then further evaluate whether or not assistive technologies truly have the ability to transform student learning or if they are simply a reflection of oligarchic infiltration of educational institutions. While educational stakeholders recognize the value of quantitative research in supporting pedagogic decision-making, strong qualitative lived research is more valuable in informing the design of educational experiences, which remains a critical consideration in the authenticity of inclusive education practices. According to Perelmutter, McGregor & Gordon (2017), “if Assistive Technology helps learning purely in a numerical sense, but is uncomfortable or socially stigmatizing to use, then advocating for it might cause more harm than good” (p. 2). 

Pessimistic Past

With little success and much frustration using past assistive technologies, it seemed as if Google’s intelligent web-based apps, extensions and add-ons would miraculously transform student learning experiences with the click of a mouse. While every teacher at my school received a short Professional Learning workshop in Google for Education, I was one of the lucky three educators on our staff of thirty-five who was further trained in implementing Google for Education as an assistive technology for students with exceptionalities. This training would serve me well and would have also benefited dozens of other educators on staff who could not receive the training due to logistical, budgetary and policy constraints. 

Friend or Foe

Specialized training made me extremely eager to implement GSuite after I was gifted the opportunity to work one-on-one with an amazing student who attended school for partial day programming, but with whom I had already connected given our shared enthusiasm for maker education and various digital technologies. The process was unhurried and I was patient because I knew that I needed and wanted to really know my student and build a trusting relationship in order to get them to continue coming into the building every day, which was a major challenge and the most important goal decided upon by our Special Services Team.  Continue reading “Gauging Googles’ Gains: A K-6 Educators Perspective”

Bringing it all Together – Using the TIM for Technology Integration

Teacher Blogger  |  By Brad Skeet

01It was 2010 and I was teaching grade seven science for the first time.  I had been a successful fifth grade teacher for the previous fifteen years and had taught science before.  My grade five students and I would discuss the different concepts.  They would perform hands-on experiment activities and would write wonderful lab reports about what they had learned.  My students were engaged and happy in their learning. Or so it seemed.  Fast forward two grade levels and I saw a very different group of students sitting in front of me.  While they did the work for me out of what can only be described as compliance, one could see that they really were not interested nor invested in the work.

I had an extensive technology background for the time period.  I thought that in order to engage my students, putting the course into Moodle (a learning management system) would engage my students because they were on computers.  I was wrong in my assumption.  Simply making an assignment electronic without changing the purpose behind the assignment did not make it more engaging for students.  I had the technical skills but I did not have the technology integration skills.

It was about this time that I began to take a deeper dive into conceptual understanding as a teacher.  Our school division had begun a shift toward students developing a mastery understanding of their subject areas.  This meant that they would have a deeper understanding of what they were learning along with an understanding of why they were learning it.  Ultimately, we wanted our students to be able to apply what they had learned to new and novel situations.

There are many educators who use technology in the classroom.  It can be argued, however, that simply consuming information is not what we mean by technological integration.  Simple literacy and mathematical software have their purpose, but they do not necessarily promote a deeper understanding of concepts.  We want our classrooms to use technology to empower our learners. We want those students to be engaged in their learning and to be motivated to push further.  The question can be asked: “How do we help teachers move practice forward to allow for technology integration?” Continue reading “Bringing it all Together – Using the TIM for Technology Integration”