I recently delivered an online course; it was the first time that I didn’t have the chance to meet the students in a traditional classroom.
The idea of delivering this course was challenging. I was not sure if this “new” teaching approach would work, but after spending some hours as a student myself at Coursera.com and other online courses sites, I decided to give it a try.
For sharing documents, folders, and written interaction I tried Dropbox (dropbox.com) as my first option, but I noticed some students were having problems accessing the information I shared with them.
Then, I went to Google Drive and tried a different approach. Each student was required to have a Gmail account that allowed me to create and share folders with each individual student. Using the individualized folders I was able me to send personalized information for each student such as quizzes’ results, explanatory texts or specific topics they had to study.
To deliver the lessons, Skype video conferences was my first option, but in the last classes I changed to Google Hangouts due to the facility to use one display computer for sharing the screen.
Looking for a way to write on a board and share with the students, I tried a free online tool named White Board (//awwapp.com/draw.html). It was good, but not enough to meet my instructional needs. White Board requires multiple steps for typing texts and saving screen to preserve any previously shared content.
At this point, I turned to Google Drive in which I was able to create text documents that I instantly shared with the students. The instant interaction includes the option of multiple users writing together on the same document while using audio and video for more productivity.
All the slide presentations that I used were created using Google Drive. I found it very useful, because I can share the content with the students right after finishing my presentation or during it.
The advantages of using Google Drive include the option of sharing copies of any original presentation with students without being afraid of students accidentally deleting the content because the original is always safely kept in my folder.
The most interesting tool that I found in Google Drive was the Form, using the forms allowed me to create quizzes every week (up to 6 per week with 10 questions each) with different layouts from multiple questions to open ended questions. Teachers can easily see students’ answers in an automatic spreadsheet that is created every time a new form is created.
Finally, based on my experience using Google Drive for teaching online, the tools that I used the most were: Slide Presentation, Forms, Excel spreadsheet and Text for interacting with the students. There are still some other features that I would like to see in Google Drive as I mentioned in the recent survey I received. I will strongly recommend teachers out there to give Google Drive a try.