15 September, 2009

Activities for the Google-savvy Teacher

Blogs, podcasts, live streaming videos, tools and web applications can be useful tools in education and teaching. How can you utilize these tools for use in the classroom? Here are some examples of what the Internet can do for your students and how it can liven up lessons.

Cyber Talk
With chat rooms and chat boxes come discussion forums for the scholarly minds. But it need not be boring and staid of course. Encourage students to debate their points of view on the latest government news or scientific breakthrough! Ask them to post links to news articles or blogs or wikis that can substantiate their claims! Make discussion forums fun, and they will learn all the more.

Discussion forums benefit both students and teachers. First, there’s the presence of a moderator (the teacher) who can push the discussion along. Next, there are instructions and assignments on a regular basis so there will always be activity in your forum.
Students cannot drift off to other subjects or topics too, as most of the topics discussed will be very much linked to their class lessons.

Fourth, there can be student-teacher interaction even outside the classroom, when they’re absent, when you’re away on a conference, or both are on a holiday break.
Fifth, whatever students post as their comments can serve as your written log of their scholastic comprehension of your lessons. You can even identify weak points and re-teach a certain topic or two.

The important thing though is that you, the teacher and moderator, should be a regular presence in the forum. Students participate better if they know they’re watched. Keep logging in; pay attention so you can identify important postings and point them out. Discussion forums can become an important part of your course if it’s mandatory.

Scientific Collaboration
Scientific collaborations are challenging and interesting, especially if they have something to do with extended field trips or outdoor exotic education science trips. But these can cost some money and a lot of effort, especially where safety is concerned.
So in this Internet age, try scientific collaborations the online way! Start with Google Earth. When on an occasional check of the school garden or the city zoo, ask students to take pictures. They can also research online facts about these wonders of nature, be it a plant or an animal. These they can upload to Google Earth as part of their field study.

Start by creating a folder in the Google Earth My Places. Click on Add folder and name it “Field Study.” Choose the Placemark tool and anchor the location of the places your class visited in the Earth file.

Davis, Cheryl. “From There to Here with Google Tools.” Retrieved September 15, 2009 from
“Moderation Guidelines for Discussion Forums.” Retrieved September 15, 2009 from