In the afternoon session Michael Smith gave a presentation about his use of Google Classroom at Barking and Dagenham College. Google Classroom is a popular cloud-based platform that Michael has now fully integrated into the delivery and management of all his GCSE English classes.
Michael uses Google Classroom to –
- offer diagnostic assessments
- engage learners in collaborative writing tasks
- design classroom and homework tasks using stimulating multimedia resources
- give feedback on written work
- track learner progress
and says that using Google Classroom has significantly reduced the workload that he had always found challenging when using paper-based teaching resources. All his students are given a Gmail account during induction and his colleagues are offered CPD sessions to help them become familiar with the basic features of Google Drive and the most useful Google Apps for Education.
Michael demonstrated how he uses Google docs to work collaboratively online to capture their ideas on a single shared document. He also showed examples of the multimedia quizzes that he creates in Google Forms, integrating weblinks, stimulus photographs and video clips into a range of comprehension and creative writing tasks. When learners ‘submit’ these quizzes, Michael is notified automatically through his G Drive account and at a glance can see which questions learners had found difficult as the results are presented automatically in a graphical format. Quizzes containing open questions require learners to submit written responses which can then easily be shared, where appropriate, as a basis for peer marking activities. Michael also explained that he encourages his learners to use Google translate (English > English) as a way to hear their written work read aloud as this often reveals omissions or errors that they can easily overlook when simply proofreading their work on the page.
Maria Neary (left) (Business Development Manager – Digital Technology. Essex Adult Community Learning) then gave a presentation about how the service has made efforts to organise their Moodle courses and teaching materials in ways that engage learners and use the full range of interactive features available within the virtual learning platform. Maria demonstrated how she had developed areas of the Moodle to have a colourful, highly graphical interface which is in sharp contrast with the dull, linear format often associated with the Moodle webpages.
Maria encourages her tutors to use the many interactive features within Moodle such as quizzes, embedded Padlet boards and videos, chat forums and e portfolios plug ins. She explained that the development of the Moodle has been combined with the introduction of electronic ILPs and the promotion of a BYOD strategy (bring your own device) following an upgrade in wifi access at all their main centres in Essex. Delon commented that Easton and Otley College had introduced a Gold/Silver/Bronze award framework to recognise the achievements of curriculum areas who had made their sections on Moodle particularly engaging and distinctive. Maria added that for similar reasons she and her tutors were also exploring the use of ‘badges’ as a way to offer recognition and motivation to both learners and tutors.
Online discussion forum
In the final part of the afternoon workshop Bob invited members to work in small groups to review the different ways in which they could continue to share their skills in using digital technology in English teaching. Bob noted that that he had already set up a Twitter account for the network as well as a Yammer and Edmodo group. In the feedback discussion members were keen to explore the use of a virtual network and Bob asked them to note on their evaluation forms their views on using Yammer or Edmodo so that he could develop one or the other of the two options.
As a result of the discussion it was decided to set up an Edmodo group. (If you are an English practitioner, you are very welcome to join the ‘virtual’ group even if you cannot attend the face to face Network events. The class code you will need if you wish to join the group is q3yf7z. If you have not used Edmodo before, just click here to first register for an account as a teacher. When you are on your home page, click the option to join a ‘class’ at the bottom on the left hand side and then enter the code mentioned above and join as a teacher. We look forward to welcoming you to the Edmodo group!