I make no claims at being tech-savy, but I’m not afraid to give something new a shot. The tech in my classroom is completely trial and error (of course, the kids think I’ve got it all under control). This post is basically what I’ve learned over the last couple years as far as integrating technology…. Feel free to ask questions and make suggestions in the comments!
My district gave me a set of iPads last year. I spent a LOT of time finding ways to use them, both for myself and the kids, that were actually enrichment and not just something cool to look at. What we discovered was that the iPads weren’t the best option in our situation. I know a lot of teachers use and love them, but they just weren’t what I was looking for. They weren’t easy to manage (always needing updates that we had to on a device-by-device basis), expensive (comparatively speaking), and NO FLASH! That was the deal breaker for me. I have friends who work in the tech world and are die-hard Apple fans who tell me no one uses flash anymore. That may be true, but so many of the simulations and games that I love the kids to use DO run on flash.
So now my district is all about Chromebooks. Honestly, I don’t have a lot of experience with them yet since I still have a PC laptop in my room. But the kids are using them, so that’s where I’m getting my opinions from. They are fast to load up and login and seem pretty easy to use. There’s no page-up or page-down buttons, but I guess the can live with that…
What I feel like I’ve learned the most about is Googledrive. Most of you are probably pretty familiar with it by now (seems like most schools are using it), so I’ll finish this post with my thoughts and suggestions about Googleforms. This is what I’ve been using to do my tests and quizzes online instead of on paper. It is a function of Googledrive, just create a form instead of a document.
Pros: 1. It makes grading quick. I use the add-on “Flubaroo” and that will grade it for you (but it’s not perfect, see below). 2. The kids like getting to use the computer whenever possible. 3. It saves trees! 4. It helps them prepare for all the online testing the is undoubtably coming their way.
Cons: 1. Flubaroo only can grade an exact right or wrong answer. It works great for true/false, multiple choice, or fill in the blank (as long as they spell it right, but you can run spell check on their answers prior to grading if you want). Anything else you still have to grade yourself. 2. God help you if the Internet goes out. I usually have a paper copy on hand just in case and make someone go run to the office for copies last minute. 3. You cannot copy and paste whole questions from another source. So you have to basically rewrite your entire existing test. That takes forever. 4. My kids only negative feedback is that they can’t circle a question to come back to later, which some like to do.
In my opinion though, the pros outweigh the cons. And I feel it’s going to be a requirement soon anyway, so may as well work out the bugs now.
Here are my final tips on implementing online assessments using Googleforms.
1. You have to email them the link to take the test. They have to check their email, not Googledrive.
2. Make sure you uncheck the box that says “include form in email”. This way once they are done they can’t pull up the email and show it to someone in another class. They will have to actually click a link to take them to another page (which you can shut down once they are done).
3. Change the theme on your form to something colorful. This way it is very easy to see who is on the test and who is on another page. I sit in the back of the room with a clear shot of all of their screens until they are all finished. The picture at the top of this post is what my room looked like during a final exam.
4. Have the “Responses” page open on your computer while they are taking it. You will be able to see their responses coming in to make sure they all come through before they log off. Once in a blue moon someone’s gets lost in cyber land and if they’ve already shut down, they have to redo the whole thing.
5. I usually will hand out a paper word bank too. Most of them say it’s helpful to be able to cross the words out, which you cannot do online.
6. Once they are finished, go back into your form and change it to no longer accept responses. If they take it multiple times, it will tell you. But you don’t want them showing it to someone else when they’re not supposed to.
I hope this has been helpful. Like I said, this is all a learning process for me and I’m still figuring it out. There are tons of great add-ons I’ve heard about and hope to use soon. Give it a try for yourself!