Friday, June 17, 2016

Mind Lab - Week 32 - Activity 8

Practising Teacher Criteria and e-learning:
As I continue to develop as a teacher e-Learning and innovative technologies continue to change how I teach and the tools I use. 

A tool I am currently enjoying using is Google Classroom. I use it at quite a simple level and I suppose even more as a management/housekeeping tool rather than a pedagogical one. I have no doubt that it could be used in more powerful ways than I am currently using it but, as a teacher who takes withdrawal groups of students rather than a home class, I find it an invaluable way to set tasks and broad assignments, especially where there is a specific format to be followed. Back in the old days (like a couple of years ago) I used to make a doc share it with students and get them to create a copy and share that back with me. I am sure many people can empathise with the overload of emails that comes as a result of that. Using Google Classroom (for those who haven't used it) I can create one doc, and send it out to all the students and Classroom automatically creates a copy of the doc, nicely named with each student's name. These are all in a nice tidy folder for me to be able to provide comments for feedback and feedforward to students. A wonderful paperless system that saves me heaps of time managing docs and gives me more time to interact (online and offline) with students.
Google Classroom also enables me to set more flipped classroom style tasks, a quality pedagogical approach that support student learning. Flipping tasks means I can set a task to be done, and students can complete a first draft independently which can then enable the meaty discussion to be done in class time. The conversation stream in Google Classroom also allows a range of interactions among students - they can ask questions or seek clarification, and the appropriate use of such tools similar to chat rooms can be modelled by teachers.
Google Classroom links to the PTCs in a number of ways. 
  • Google Classroom helps me to develop relationships with ākonga through a anywhere/anytime learning approach.
  • Through modelling appropriate digital citizenship use I demonstrate my commitment for the wellbeing of ākonga.
  • Google Classroom helps me plan and deliver quality learning experiences in a platform that is relevant and engaging for ākonga.

An issue that I continue to grapple with is how I can use e-learning and innovative technologies to create a more culturally responsive classroom which supports the bi-cultural nature of New Zealand. 

A question I am constantly reflecting on is whether or not my use of eLearning and digital environments supports the integration of Māori world views and the development of curriculum that fully integrates Māori students' identify, culture and language. In the past, and something I plan to do again, is use 'Scratch' as a tool for retelling traditional stories but I hope, that I am able to do this in a way that is authentic rather than tokenism. I don't wish to be just focusing on content but rather want to ensure the context and teacher/learner experience and relationship is not compromised when using e-Learning. I acknowledge, and am still exploring, the incorporation of Māori cultural practices into eLearning and reflecting on how whakawhanaungatanga (the building of respectful relationship) looks like in the eLearning context where feedforward and feedback may be at times given via a virtual pathway rather than a face to face.

Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai and Hanas Tikiwai, (2010) A Literature Review focused on Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) and e-Learning in the Context of Te Reo Māori and Kaupapa Māori Education.


  1. I have recently come to start using Google Classrooms in my teaching as well. I do have occasional technical difficulties being an eTeacher my students aren't always on the same domain and therefore are unable to participate in a google classroom. My way around this was to utilise Google Community to create links to topics and create that as the basis of my virtual learning network (VLN). This then still gave me the opportunity to create folders for students and the responsibility is left with the student to keep the work organised and submitted in time.

    Another concern I have is between work and home life balance. Don't let emails from students at night and over the weekend stop us from making time with our loved ones.

    When you comment on your reflection about Maori achievement in this online environment. We are know living in a very digital world. Surely this links nicely with Tikanga and the idea that the expert passes the information down. Just we have a larger pool of experts to choose from.

    Hope you've enjoyed the last 32 weeks it has been challenging at times.

  2. Hi Phil, I am very impressed with your work-around when students aren't on the same domain. And, I am hearing you about the work/life balance. My thoughts are that emails coming in from students during evenings and weekends don't have to be answered, or even read - there should be no expectation that this needs to be done outside 'working' hours. I also believe that there needs to be some consistency within schools (or teaching teams) as to what the protocols about answering emails/marking work etc is. It really is not much different from taking home books to mark except that the carry bag is a lot less heavy.

    In this digital world we do need to shut off at times, and I am very careful about not answering 'out-of-office' time emails too quickly - I don't want to start an unrealistic expectation. In management I am also very aware of this when answering parent emails. I am quite happy to leave emails that come in late on a Friday afternoon to Monday morning before I answer them.

    Hope you have enjoyed the last 32 weeks as well.

  3. Thanks for this discussion about Google Classroom. I built the Google domain for our school and this is the first year that the majority of our teachers have embraced it. I've just had a look at Google Classroom in the last week and yet to put it to work.

    I have an inbox full of collaboration requests from my digital tech class that arrived on Friday while I was out of school. I was charmed rather than annoyed, as I knew they were in "finishing" time, and chose to share some work with me.

    This has been a busy but rewarding 32 weeks. The literature review was the most stretching assessment - but the most rewarding. I've also liked these seven weeks of blogging and am sad it is coming to an end.

  4. Thanks for all your comments - it will be good for us to try and continue blogging post Mind Lab even just for the purpose of clarifying our thoughts and ideas.

  5. Speaking of blogging after our Mindlab experience, will we still have access to the November Intake Google+ forum or will that cease to exist? If so, will someone re-create one because it would be a shame to lose contact with our fellow Mindlabbers. I know I have a copy of everyones blogs but I really appreciate the instant feedback and discussion that occurs on G+. Any ideas?

  6. A good question - having that community is good. I presume it will last but I will post that question on the community to check.