Friday 29 November 2013

And now, the end is near...

Wow. 2013 academic year and my part in the MITA academy (for now!) are drawing to a close. Being a part of the academy has been an interesting journey, and I have had the opportunity to try out using Google + with my classes.
I have posted about this work from time to time (intermittently if I am being honest) on here, and of course there are posts on Google + from my students to show that there has been some buy-in from them as well. It has been good to have had the time to look into what social media work well with students, especially as they are all very into Facebook, so trying a new tool was going to be a challenge.
In summary, my students are still not regular posters on Google +, nor do they all regularly check their accounts or respond to posts. Having said that, when they post, they are getting good at leaving comments and are happy to post pictures. Positive points though; they have learned how to use it, despite the classes trying several other means of communication prior to settling on G+.
My future intentions are to carry on using G+ with students, but I plan to make it an integral part of my classroom practice right from the start of the year, with lessons on how to use it properly and also about putting people in circles, to avoid the issues that we have encountered this year. There are going to be instructions and how-tos for all aspects of Google + so that my classes are used to the idea and using it right from the off. I suppose it still isn't Facebook, something I am glad about, but the students are maybe not as keen yet. It IS still a relatively new social media and many of the students have not been exposed to it, especially as it was not enabled until this year on our domain.
I like the idea of putting resources onto the discussion part of our communities, as well as having stuff on my site. I also want to try putting up exam-style questions and getting the students to answer and refine each others answers to develop their skills in answering NCEA questions - all to be continued next year.

I stand by my choice of Google + still, mainly because it is a good set up, is flexible and there seems to be a huge number of teachers already using it. I meet people who use Facebook with students, but that makes me uncomfortable. I have a page/ group (not sure which!) for the Envirogroup, but I really don't want to go down that route with my classes, especially as it is blocked at school. I now know the areas I have to watch, specifically who students add to their circles and DEFINITELY who they share posts with...
Now I want to also have a look at how Google Hangouts could further be used to enhance the learning going on with my classes - there are people all around the world we could be communicating with, experts, biologists, other students... it really makes everything possible doesn't it?
I'll still continue posting, probably as irregularly as this year, but you'll mostly find me on Google+!

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