Last week I did a CTLE workshop to try and share the joy of Google+. The workshop was scheduled a day after an email from Chancellor arrived in our inboxes, instructing us to stop using Google Apps. So I think many faculty may have thought that the workshop didn’t apply any longer, but that is not true. First off, G+ is not a Google App, and secondly, many of the things I shared in this workshop related to student-faculty use in the classroom (online or face-to-face). So we’re good with student use as long as you follow FERPA rules. Below is an outline of what I covered in the workshop. There are videos attached, so you can see the tool in action.
When: Wed, March 20, 12pm – 1pm
Where: GCC CTLE HT2-139 (map)
Description: Google+ is a social media tool built into our Gmail system, but why should you care about it? Come learn how you can use this new tool for teaching and learning, as well as building your Personal Learning Network (PLN). This session will highlight how G+ is used as a live online classroom tool, online office hours, video chat, blogging, content curation, joining communities, and connecting and sharing with colleagues both on a desktop and on a mobile device.
- Google Hangouts: Host face to face chat sessions, virtual online meeting, or broadcast live
- Chat with students online about progress in class
- Schedule office hours online in a Hangout
- Broadcast a live class session for students not in class – Tape if for later viewing
- Share your desktop, Google Docs, YouTube Video
- Connect with colleagues in your field from around the world
- Join public Hangouts on Air for topics you’re interesting in
- Read more
This post is the first in a series of posts about Google+ (G+). Our college is making a push to use G+ as a communication tool, but because it is so complex, many are finding it difficult to wrap their heads around. I agree. It took me a good 2-3 months to completely understand why this is valuable tool and why I should care about it. Now I want to try to convince others, especially my colleagues at GCC, why they should care about Google+ too.
Part 1 covers registering for Google+, which essentially means setting up a profile for an existing Gmail account you already have. It’s super easy. Then I walk through Google+ Communities, which is where our Gaucho Plus initiative stems from. Gaucho Plus is a profile, but it’s also a way of saying a collections of communities. That’s what’s confusing, but I try to explain that in the video. So if you’re curious, and you want to know why you should care about Google+, check it out.
Gaucho Plus training has finally made its presence in the CTLE at GCC. This is a good thing because there are many confused people on campus. I’ve been running an informal poll asking everyone if they know what Gaucho Plus is. So far my tally is about 29 no to 3 yes. Although all three yeses have not signed up to use it yet. They’re not sure how. So training is needed. If you’re looking for a recommendation, I highly recommend you attend training and get signed up. It will be worth it in the end.
I attended the Gaucho Plus training today, and it was pretty good, but there was surprisingly a lot not on the agenda. I think it’s difficult to train people on how to use Gaucho Plus with out really training them on how to use Google Plus or even explaining what G+ is. It’s like training faculty on how to use the Canvas messaging system, without training them how to use Canvas or even explaining what Canvas is. It didn’t really make sense, especially since every question participants asked dealt with Google Plus, but Mark, our awesome technology trainer, made it work. Read more
Initially students don’t care too much for Diigo when I introduce it in an assignment in Week 2 of the semester. They’re still trying to get used to all the other new technology in the online course, and Diigo is almost the stone that breaks the camel’s back. But not quite. They warm up to it as the course moves on. I’ve questioned whether having students use yet another technology tool is too much for them to deal with, but the advantages of what they learn and experience by using it out weighs any reservations I may have had.
So, what exactly are the advantages of having students use this social bookmarking tool? First, they are in the exploratory phase of their research projects. They’re still trying to figure out what good topics are, so in order to not have them wondering alone in this process, I have them sharing ideas. Diigo allows for students to share bookmarks with each other in a group area. All of the sites saved in the group show up for all to see.
As shown in the image above, I teach students about taxonomy. Taxonomy is a way to group things together using tags. It makes it easier for students to find common topics within the group posts. Students are supposed to use the class theme tag: “personal+freedoms” along with 5 of their own tags based on the subject of the site bookmarked. Diigo then creates a tag list (right below) for the group so students can look at the most popular topics that emerge during the search process. Rights, laws, health and the constitution are all popular with students. Read more
I can still remember when Delicious was all the rage. Remember when you had to remember where all the periods went – del.icio.us. I’m not sure I got it right, but those were the days. Then Delicious got bought by Yahoo! and was shelved. Then Yahoo! sold it to the current owners who have, to their credit, tried to regain the hold on the social bookmarking space. But that is all for not, as Diigo took the opportunity to step in when Delicious struggled and created a more education centric service that still thrives today.
I’ve used Diigo in my Freshman Composition ENG102 courses now for about 5-6 years. It’s a research class, so I like to get students started in the research process with something easy – Googling and sharing what they find with each other. I set up the assignment to get students to explore the course theme: personal freedoms to help narrow the focus of their individual research topics. I’ve posted the meat of the assignment below.
Setting Up & Using Diigo
We will use Diigo throughout the semester to keep track of the websites we find during the research process. When you save a webpage, it’s called bookmarking. Diigo is a social bookmarking site. It’s social because it allows for all of us to share our bookmarks with each other. It’s like a big researching party!
Watch this screencast: Setting Up & Using Diigo to learn how to set-up and use Diigo.
Assignment Steps Read more
Confused may not be the appropriate word, but I’m still trying to figure out . It’s strange. I’m following with my personal Gmail account on G+, but I get a digest of posts to my work Gmail account which doesn’t have G+ turned on. When I click the links in the digest, I get to Groups with no group because it’s my personal Gmail and not work. So it seems like it’s really just a Google Group and not G+ at all.
In addition, I hate digests in email. I have to deal with this with my Google Reader RSS feeds. The G+ digest only gives you a headline of the post and not the whole post, so I have to click through, which by the time I actually get to the news, I’m over it. I click the headline (1 click) and it scoots me down the page in the email where I get one sentence that says “So in So shared a post with you” and a More link. I click the More link (2nd click), and the post opens in a Google Groups window, but only after I go through the trouble of switching from personal Gmail Groups to work Gmail Groups. But that’s my problem for having a personal account. At the end of the post in Groups there is a pretty View Post button, so finally I’m going to get to G+, which is what I thought the point was. Read more
When Google first opened up the Google+ Communities option, I thought it was a great idea, especially for classes. But then I started thinking about how that would work with a class, and now I’m not so sure it will work for my purposes. Don’t get me wrong. Google+ Communities are a great addition to the social network. It’s just not going to work with how I want to use Google+.
I posted yesterday about how I’ve used it, but essentially I wanted it to be a place for my students to blog about what they are reading, writing and researching. The topic, food waste/sustainability is a hot topic right now, and the whole purpose of having students study this topic is to make more people aware of the problems we have. So why not get students blogging and sharing information about this issue and problem. However, because it is a class, I want to give students the option to keep their work private if they choose. Moving my current set up to a Google+ Community may not allow me to do both. Read more
Last year I taught two semesters in a hybrid learning community with my colleague and friend Cindy Ortega. We met one day a week for 2 1/2 hours. The other 2 1/2 hours was spent online. I taught ENG102 Freshman Composition and she taught CRE101 Critical Reading. Both classes when you look at the competencies are very similar, focusing on critical reading, writing and thinking. And of course we both teach research because we have to have something to read, write and think about. Our theme for the course was Food Waste and Sustainability, so we had students read the book American Wasteland and watch several movies about sustainability. This semester we watch Lester Brown’s Plan B movie and in the fall we watched No Impact Man. All of our content revolved around the ideas from the book and movie.
So with such an important topic, we thought it would be great to encourage students to be transparent in their work in the course, as what they were discussing and writing about would be relevant to all. With that in mind, I suggested we use Google+ as a blogging platform for students not just share their journals posts with us, but with the world. We did it for two semesters and students loved it. I’ll try to explain how it all worked out. Read more
Today I did a webinar for Academic Impressions: Using Cloud-Based Technology for Learning and Engagement. The webinar lasted an hour and forty-five minutes, which means I had to talk for that long. This isn’t generally a problem for me if I’m talking about and sharing about what I love to do: teaching and learning with technology, so the time flew by. I was really surprised that I was able to keep to my planned timeline. I got everything in but a few questions at the end, so I’m hear to address them now.
One of the tools I used in the presentation to help give every participant a voice was GoSoapBox. I blogged about it in my last post about what I’d do with a $300 grant. I was able to address the remaining questions in there, since participants had posted them in the webinar and in GoSoapBox. Below is a list of a few questions I answered for participants.
I had a great time talking about cloud based technologies, and I really hope it was helpful for others. And I hope they get out there and give it a try. Remember to start small and play around with it before you make it a major assignment for a course.
I’ve been on Twitter for close to five years. I joined right after they went big at SXSW March of 2007. In that time I surpassed 24,000 tweets, a combination of personal and professional. But it was a couple of years before I decided to try Twitter in my classes.I’m still not to the point where I will require my students to tweet for class, but I do see value in using it as an alert system. Although I’m not finding many students who are on Twitter already or find following my class account of interest. But it was easy to set up and use, so I continue to do it.
Here’s how I use Twitter in the class. I teach online, so I communicate often with students by posting announcements to the class blog. Previously I’ve used WordPress as the class blog, so it was easy to add a plugin that automatically tweets every new posts on the blog. I figured that if students followed the class Twitter account (@DrCoop for ENG101, @ENG102 & @ENH295), they could get quick updates when I posted a new announcement without having to check the blog. I probably rendered this feature pointless when I set up email subscriptions on the blog as well. Instead of tweets as updates, they can get the actual blog post delivered to their preferred email account. So I get very few takers on my Twitter updates.
But I haven’t given up the idea that one day students will find these Twitter updates useful, so I continue to find ways to keep Twitter automatically updating when I post announcements. Maricopa will be moving to a new LMS next fall, so I’ve been playing around with it and teaching 3 classes in it this semester. Just for fun, I figured out a way to get Twitter to autopost my announcements from Canvas, although this is completely pointless, as Canvas already emails students when you post new announcements. At this point I’m just experimenting for fun, not function. I set up an IFTTT (If This Then That). Basically you can create tasks that happen after a certain trigger (when something happens (this) then do something else (that)). So I set up a “when a new post happens on Canvas then tweet a link to the post.”
It works great, but presently IFTTT only allows for you to connect one Twitter account, so I can only do this for one class. They did tweet to say they would be offering that option soon, but I don’t foresee tweeting in this manner a useful feature of my online classes. Not yet.