At the end of 2015, I completed a Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) at Charles Sturt University. As a participant in the capstone subject, Digital Futures Colloquium, I conducted a Case Study.
This Case Study investigated, “In what ways are students using Google Docs for collaboration?” The use of Case Study methodology was relevant for gathering information through the views and interactions of members of the school community, focusing on their engagement with, and various perceptions of, the use of Google Docs for collaboration.
The Case Study “Collaboration and Google Docs” was completed in October 2015. A summary of Findings are as follows:
- Students were at ease with sharing their document with other students; however, the regularity of commenting on the work of another student work was far less
- Student ability and/or confidence to ‘comment’ on the work of another student, is not to the same level as their ability to create, use and share Google Docs.
- Teachers overestimated how often students edited the work of another student.
- Real time use of Google Docs in the classroom; that is, multi-user editing in real-time to co-construct a document, appeared to be the most enjoyable, comfortable and useful way students engaged with Google Docs.
- The practices of correction, modification, commenting and editing all constitute collaboration; however, students were largely unable to articulate the connection between these actions and the skill of collaboration.
- Students collaborated with others to share feedback in constructive ways in the classroom environment. However, this reality was not matched in the areas of students’ willingness (and possibly) their ability to think critically by individually commenting and editing the work of others, especially outside normal classroom hours.
- When students accessed Google Docs outside of class time, it was primarily for the purposes of creating and sharing documents with the teacher, not with other students.
The recommendations I forwarded to the leaders and teachers of St Hosea’s (not its real name) were as follows: :
- develop of a school wide rubric which attempts to measure student collaboration;
- investigate why students use Google Docs more in class than they do outside of class time; and,
- establish an online space where students and teachers share reflections and post comments about the use of GAFE to support collaboration.
One learning for me….. As part of the work involved with this Case Study, I developed a ‘collaboration rubric‘ particular to the use of Google Docs. Whilst I will be the first to admit this probably could do with some improvement, it did provide a starting point for me when engaging with classroom observations. I am of the firm belief that schools are now required to engage in the co-construction of such rubrics with students to deepen their understanding of co-constructing such rubrics with students to deepen their understanding of the vital skills required for future work, collaboration being only one of them. If we can at least to being the process of measuring what we value; e.g. collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving etc.; we may start to ‘value’ these skills as much as we do literacy and numeracy, which are far more easily measured.
Any feedback or comments are very welcome.