The Need or Opportunity
The important educational need that I am seeking to address is that due to financial restrictions, my school district will be searching for a MS Office compatible free ware program to replace the more pricey (over $45 per computer) MS Office that we have had in the past. Since the district has already piloted Open Office and has not cared for what it can provide for its students and teachers, they are still on the lookout for what to use when the new Macs and PCs are installed this summer. This need for an Office compatible freeware program is what has driven me to find a solution to this problem with the growingly popular Google Docs.
Technology used to Address the Need
The technology I have chosen to address this need is Google Docs. Google Docs is an online word processor, spreadsheet, form, drawing, and presentation tool that allows the user to “Create and share your work online and access your documents from anywhere. Manage documents, spreadsheets, presentations, surveys, and more all in one easy location” (Google). The reason I chose Google Docs is because of its user friendly interface, accessibility to teachers, students, and parents, as well as, and probably most importantly, the fact that it is free. The only thing it requires is that the users have a Google account. The Google account can be created through Gmail (Google’s email client) or through another email linked to Google.
Greenville Public Schools, if they chose to implement the use of Google Docs would begin implementation in the 2011-2012 school year. There would need to be several supports in place in order to make using Google Docs in the classroom a success. First of all, students would need to register for a Google account. This could pose some problems, because from what my research tells me, users need to be 13 years of age before they have access to a Google account. This could be different for educational settings, however, I would need to continue my research to solve this problem. Students could then potentially have the same Google account for their entire high school and middle school career. Classroom teachers and/or technology teachers in the building would need to provide instruction to students on how to use Google docs, as it is different from MS Office in a few ways. They would especially need explicit training on how to use the peer editing functions and share functions. In the past, my district has used My Access, an online writing prompt scoring and editing tool. Again, due to financial restrictions, this will be taken away, so Google Docs would (and could easily) replace this program with proper instruction on its use. With the variety of uses, Google Docs would be used across the district in multiple grade levels, buildings, classrooms and computer labs.
What is the TP knowledge for the solution? (i.e., how does the technology you have chosen support the teaching strategies and methods you have chosen?)
The technology I have chosen, Google Docs, supports the teaching strategies and methods I have chosen by making document sharing easy. Some great teaching and learning strategies that could lend well to document sharing are teacher-student edits and commenting, as well as peer editing. A teacher could easily upload a document such as a writing prompt. The student could then write his or her paper, and then share that document with both the teacher, and any peers that are willing to help edit.
This allows for meaningful and timely feedback from both the instructor and the peer.
What is the TC knowledge for the solution? (i.e., how specifically does this technology make the content in your problem more intellectually accessible? Be sure to think about representation.)
The Technological Content knowledge makes teacher and peer editing of documents, and document sharing easier because anyone with a Google account can access the created documents with a simple invite by the creator. Students can also create their own documents easily, and then enter their peers’ email addresses to peer edit. Once they “share back” the creator receives back a document that has clear, meaningful feedback.
What is the PC knowledge for the solution? (i.e., how specifically do your pedagogical choices make the content in your problem more intellectually accessible? Be sure to think about how the student will experience the content given these instructional strategies.
Pedagogical Content knowledge “includes knowing what teaching approaches fit the content, and likewise, knowing what teaching content can be arranged for better teaching” (Mishra & Koehler, 2006).
The pedagogical choices I have made concerning teacher and student edititing processes are made more accessible by the technology of Google docs because of the program’s ease of use, accessibility, sharing functions, and cost effectiveness. The students at the middle school level have not had a wide variety of experiences with word processing programs. However, the extremely simple interface of Google docs will allow them to complete their word processing tasks easily and without much distraction of extra tools that they do not need or know how to use at this point.
Watch, listen, and learn. View my Wicked Problem Project videocast for more details about the trials, tribulations, and successes of my project. Enjoy!