EDUCATING FOR THE FUTURE – PREPARING FOR THE WORLD: LEARNING PARTNERSHIPS ENABLED BY GOOGLE APPS FOR EDUCATION
The purpose of this report is to contribute to the provision of quality education to students by providing research findings related to the Technology and Learning Fund at the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board. The content of this report is based on empirical evidence from teachers about their experiences with using Google Apps for Education (GAFE) for teaching and learning, with specific focus on learning partnerships. Our primary focus was on teacher-student learning partnerships and our secondary focus was on teacher-teacher learning partnerships. Specifically, we wondered if we provided access to GAFE and ongoing professional learning opportunities would have a positive impact on teacher-student learning partnership and teacher-teacher learning partnerships.
The research questions were:
1. What GAFE did teachers use with their students and for what purpose? Also, what do teachers report as the best use of GAFE and what was the impact on student learning?
2. What impact did using GAFE have on teachers’ practice, in general?
3. What impact did GAFE have on teacher-student learning partnerships?
4. What GAFE did teachers use with other teachers and for what purpose? Also, what do teachers report as the impact of GAFE on their professional development?
Quantitative and qualitative data were collected from teachers via an online survey. Fifty teachers, Grades 7-12, volunteered to participate in the online survey.
Results of the study were that:
1. Teachers’ most frequently used GAFE with students were Google Classroom, Gmail, Google Docs and Google Drive. Google Classroom was used most often to communicate, collaborate, share, grade assignments, provide feedback, organize and edit. Google Docs was used most often to create. Outcomes for students included increased ability to perform learning tasks, increased and timely feedback on student work, more communication, easier access to information online from any device, and support for completing assignments from any location. Students were more engaged with their learning.
2. The impact of using GAFE on general teacher practice was positive, with the greatest positive impact on teachers’ ongoing professional learning, assessment and evaluation of student work, responding to needs of individual students, teacher resources for planning learning for a learning community, and teacher resources for planning learning for an individual student.
3. Teachers reported that GAFE, on average, had a positive impact on all components of teacher-student learning partnerships. Among the components most positively impacted by GAFE were teacher-student communication, presence, collaboration, feedback, and shared responsibility for student learning.
4. Teachers reported that the three most frequently used GAFE with other teachers were Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Docs. GMail was used most often to communicate, meet, and organize. Google Drive was used most often to collaborate and share. Google Docs was most often used to create, edit, and provide feedback. GAFE impacted teachers’ professional development in that they were better able to learn with and connect to their students and their colleagues.
Research results are discussed and future research considerations are shared.