I found the GCE pro-development courses to be super convenient and practical. Elements of Google that were already familiar to me, such as Docs, Forms, Spreadsheets, Searches, Sites, and YouTube are now even more useful and practical, especially with respect to how they're incorporated into my science classes.
One of the most interactive Google applications I use is Forms because it allows me to get valuable and timely feedback from my students. During lab work, my kids usually investigate problems and generate data in teams of two. By requesting them to share data via a Google form I can quickly combine it into a class set (or by side, or grade level) and then share it back with students using the terrific ‘charts’ feature in Google Sheets. This provides better statistical reliability and allows students to see their results in a larger context.
Google Docs have become a staple in most classes, and now I know a few more tricks to help get even more value from them. For example, I’ve wondered occasionally wondered about the time frame in which a student’s lab report was produced. By using the handy ‘revision history’ feature I can quickly see when the report was started and how often contributions were made to it. If necessary, I could use this to verify that the work was completed on time and without excessive external input.
I wasn’t sure how searching for information online could be any more convenient, but I soon realized there was a lot to learn. The sheer vastness of online material makes it increasingly unlikely that I or my students will find just what we’re looking for without intentionally focusing and refining internet searches. I was given tons of new ways to narrow a search and target exactly the people, concepts and ideas I’m interested in. As a result, I’ll be more sensitive to helping kids streamline their searches, too.
Until recently Google Sites was unfamiliar to me except for the very, very basics. However, as the facilitator of a service club, I’ve inherited a club Google Site that was created by a prior supervisor and I’ve been eager to learn better how to manage it. Now I’m much more confident with editing and adding content, as well as including images and video material. The result is an improved site that helps me communicate better with club members, as well as other interested folks in the community, such as parents.
I frequently use short video clips to support my classroom instruction. In the lesson about YouTube features, I learned how to edit videos in order to show only the parts that are relevant to my lessons. I also learned how to have kids easily prepare and share their own videos of lab work in order to capture just the key moments of their learning and discovery. Additionally, students can present scientific explanations in a video format which often gives me a better sense of how well they can argue from reasoning.
I was already using most of these Google applications in my classes, but I knew I wasn’t getting as much out of them as I could. The GCE courses gave me several practical ideas along with the skills I needed to take my online game up another notch. Moving forward, Google applications will be an even more powerful tool in my science teaching.