SMART E-DUCATION WITH GOOGLE+

P. Haber, T. Lampoltshammer, T. Schmuck, Z. Hasanovic, M. Mayr

Salzburg University of Applied Sciences (AUSTRIA)
Due to the rising importance of virtual collaboration and social interaction, the combination of both comprises the next logical step towards a virtual learning society. On the one hand, Google+ represents a prominent example of a social platform where you can organize your contacts in different circles, share ideas and contents, communicate via email up to videoconferencing and organize you activities via group-calendar. On the other hand, “Smart eDucation” at its core emulates a classical classroom scenario in a virtual environment via tablets with digitizers.

Bringing together G+ with the “Smart eDucation” framework creates a new virtual learning experience by combining all necessary elements for e-Learning 2.0. The combination allows to establish learning circles for a given topic with their own virtual learning desktop. These desktops provide the participants with instant messaging, documents, calendar and the whiteboard classroom associated with the given learning topic. Teachers or tutors are able to setup circles and to provide basic content. Learning units and activities can be scheduled within the group-calendar and lectures can be hold over the digital whiteboard functionality. With G+ the whole communication and the workflow for planned live lectures can be established. With the given combination, teachers can also grade the active participation in class. Looking at students’ activities log or their digital whiteboard working and participation notes. Students, on the other hand, have their learning material always accessible and up-to-date. All activities are saved; students can later review the discussed issues. They can communicate with each other, talk about homework, share results while working in teams or just ‘keep in touch’. The social aspect must not be neglected.

Therefore, the benefits of the described framework are manifold: i) the software-related part of the combined framework does not introduce additional costs as the offered services are free of charge; ii) the proposed framework features a low barrier to entry as the employed services are commonly known and widely used; iii) the search for new potential learning partners and their integration into the learning group is as easy as to “add the person to the circle”.