Using Google Classroom – Differentiation in setting assignments to improve outcome

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The inevitable influence of technology on teaching and learning must not be resisted, but rather embraced and applied in meaningful ways to positively impact on learning Fullan 2016. I believe embracing technology in teaching paves way for enhanced participation and engagement in the learning process. Google classroom thus provides a platform for enhanced participation by learners in the learning process alongside developing technical skills essential for the world of work.  Working with young people (16-18 years) has been an eye opener to the level of ‘mobile phone addiction’ young people have. As such, I belief approaching that addiction positively through inclusion of technology in the classroom yields more benefits than blocking it completely. I took part in a cross college Google Classroom pilot at the Centre for Health, Social and Childcare with a Level Two (16-18) Health and Social Care group. The main aim was to use google classroom tools to create opportunities for differentiation in the assessment process.

 The pilot group consists of 19 learners with mixed abilities and different learning styles. Four learners are dyslexic and struggle with written work. The leaners were assigned to research a specific health promotion topic of their choice and present their findings as an assignment. Google classroom provided an opportunity for the learners to have access to resources on a single page as web-links, video clips and research articles with information were provided. Although resources were available on google classroom, learners were encouraged to do further research.

In addition to choosing a topic, learners were given an opportunity to choose the method of presenting their findings form the list below:

Podcast

Power point presentation

Written report

Out of the 19 learners, 14 (74%) presented their assignments using a podcast, 3 (16%) did power point presentations and 2 (10%) did not complete the task. This was a clear indication that learners preferred using technology to the conventional methods of assignment writing.

Assignment submission using podcast

The use of google classroom created an opportunity for me to set individualised tasks according to the ability and learning styles allowing me to stretch and challenge the stronger learners. The weaker learners were assigned only Pass tasks and the more-able learners were assigned Merit and distinction tasks.


Setting group tasks

I could see evidence of improved participation as most learners seemed comfortable using technology to approach their assignments and taking ownership of their own learning. The drawback was three learners did not have access to a smart phone hence it proved to be a challenge for them to produce the podcast. Three learners did not participate because they are often absent from college. Overall, 90% of learners submitted their assignments when I used Google classroom tools to differentiate according to learner ability and learning style, in comparison to the previous module where only 64% of learners submitted assignments using the conventional method of assignment writing. 

Contributing factors to learner engagement and completing coursework could have been learners having autonomy in choosing topics and method of presenting their assignments which they felt comfortable with. In addition, I managed to set up tasks for groups of learners working on similar topics using google classroom tools allowing for weaker learners to be mixed with stronger learners. This created an opportunity for learners to support each other. Overall google classroom improved the learning experience for my learners and they felt motivated to produce assignments as it was a fun way of learning. I would recommend Google Classroom to all as I found it useful to differentiate and improve participation and engagement.   

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