The use of Google Suite to accelerate progress in learning by providing timely and accurate feedback to students.

A CPD research project by Daniel James (Business & Computing)

Focus

In deciding on a focus for this Action Research project I wanted to make sure I was focusing on something that would have real and lasting impact on both my students and me as their teacher.

This year I was teaching a new GCSE Business course that was assignment heavy and as such I wanted a way to support and challenge my students.

In the past I have found the marking, feedback and improvement cycle restricting. Students had to wait until the next lesson to get the feedback and then respond to it, this was then handed in and the same process happened again. However as there were 60 students doing the course this took precious time and often the changes were minor but were hard to spot.

This is why I wanted to focus the project on using cloud based services. This would extend learning beyond the classroom in the hope that students would actively utilise the opportunity beyond the classroom.

Objective

The objective of this Action Research is to investigate the uses of the Google suite in providing timely and accurate feedback to ensure students make accelerated and sustained progress.

Findings and Impact

The process for using the Google suite can seem very complex but it came down to organisation being the main development in the early stages.

The image above shows the use of Google Classroom and Google Docs. The ‘template’ was set up in a good doc (like word) and saved in a folder in Google drive, this could then be accessed later. One point with this was that once the template had been sent and shared with students that no editing to it could be done en masse. This meant that it was extremely important to ensure that the initial document was correct and no editing needed. This was then shared, as an assignment, with all students. Each student got their own version and this automatically linked it to the Google class they were a part of in Google classroom.

Once the doc had been shared, the students were free to add to and create their assignment. All of these edits were time stamped and tracked by Google. This allowed me to check on progress at any time. The version history also highlighted the changes made and as such provided vital information about the progress of students and their attitude to learning outside the classroom.

As the students finished sections they alerted me to this through E-mail and I then electronically assessed that particular section. As you can see from the image above the highlighted yellow sections show the areas I questioned with the student able to respond to indicate that they have adapted this. This two way conversation was not limited to the classroom with many of the students taking the opportunity to work at home to get the changes done.  Along with this I did not have to read the whole piece again and could focus on the area under development, thus saving precious time.

The students’ progress was tracked on a Google sheet that was shared only with the class. This and the embedded comments  were updated as the assessments progressed. As I went through the assessment many of the students missed the initial feedback so I investigated ways to alert students to feedback. I found that you could use their school Gmail accounts to alert them to changes and comments associated with them. One student commented, “the alert system was quick and I was able to access the feedback no matter where I was”.

Summary

The use of the Google Suite has not only saved me time but more importantly, has led to increased engagement, high levels of independence and a decrease in the barriers to learning.

The students found the system a struggle at first but once used to it, commented how they liked the instant interaction and the fact they could work at home on any electronic device.

The use of the comments system meant more depth could be sought that did not require a physical teacher presence. Overall pros and cons are outlined below.

Next steps

This project has been greatly beneficial to teaching and learning within my classroom, the next steps are to share this across the school and where appropriate, develop this so that others can use this or similar systems to better engage students both at home and in the classroom.

Featured image: ‘Google’ by Simon on Pixabay.  Licensed under Creative Commons CC0

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