Self-Paced Professional Development: Making Learning Accessible
Technology has made learning and connectivity instantaneous, and is a part of our daily lives. Google Apps for Education help to centralize learning content and facilitate collaboration between all participants.
This eLearning Module is designed to train education professionals on the basics of Google Apps for Education by utilizing the Apps themselves while they create authentic lesson plans that incorporate the use of the Apps for student learning.
eLearning Module Demonstration: Professional Development for Teachers
Leigh Anne Coles
eLearning Design for Diverse Environments: EDU 624
Instructor: Jennifer Wojcik
The rapidly changing school climates, cultures and policies in conjunction with the never-ending growth of technology, are changing the definition of a traditional classroom. Google Apps, like document creation and sharing, group discussions, calendars and email serve as a catalyst for expanding the walls of the traditional classroom, which in turn provide numerous opportunities for students to further extend their learning. Recently, Region 14 Schools in Connecticut, has adopted the Google Apps for Education and plans to launch the program for the start of the 2014-2015 school year. A few teachers at the high school have piloted the Google Apps, however, there have not been many opportunities for the educators to share their knowledge and findings with their colleagues. Nor have there been many opportunities for the other faculty to experience the Google Apps hands-on. The impending implementation creates a necessary demand for professional development and training for the Region 14 teaching staff. The intention of this eLearning Module is to create a learning opportunity for the faculty, so they can experience the Google Apps, in preparation for its implementation.
Environment and Population
The environment for this eLearning Module is a nonprofit high school which typically works with instruction designers to develop, manage, design, and evaluate teacher and administrator professional development and training (Lowther and Ross, pp. 208). The State of Connecticut Department of Education has professional development guidelines, one of which stipulates that “Student Learning is directly affected by teacher and administrator competence.” (Connecticut Department of Education, 2006). The Region 14 School District adheres to the guidelines outlined by the State of Connecticut Department of Education.
According to the 2011 Profile of Teachers in the U.S., the average age span of teachers within a school breaks down as such: 21% are younger than or equal to age 29, 27% are between the ages of 30 to 39, 22% are between the ages of 40 to 49, and 31% are older than or equal to age 50 (Feistritzer, 2011). Additional research “found that teachers’ and students’ use of technology is both varied and widespread” (O’Dwyer, Russell and Bebell, 2003). The Region 14 high school teaching staff are well-represented by the data mentioned above. The faculty is comprised of about 100 individuals who span in age range and have varying levels of technology skills. Many of the primary classroom teachers utilize technology on a daily basis for personal classroom procedures like attendance, emailing colleagues and creating lessons. Moreover, the teachers use technology in the classroom to enhance the learning experience for the students. However, a smaller portion of the teachers use technology to extend the walls of their classrooms beyond the physical structure. The technology committee for the district has provided several technology tools for the faculty to use in their classrooms with students, but many of the faculty members are hesitant, which stems from a lack of training and knowledge of the products.
Module Goals and Objectives
All Region 14 teaching staff will be able to effectively use and implement at least one Google App in their classroom to expand the learning environment for the students and foster a collaborative learning process between all participants. This goal will be accomplished by:
1. Provide all staff with their username and temporary password.
2. Formulate a collaborative resource discussion board for each App via Google Groups.
3. Write a lesson plan [related to their content area and on Google Docs] that incorporates the use of the Google App [they selected] assuming that the students know how to use the App; that they will actually use in at least one class this year.
4. Formulate new collaborative discussion groups for each department in the school.
5. Set aside actual department time to further discuss research and lesson ideas, prior to actual implementation.
Basic computer skills are an integral part of this particular eLearning Module, and based on the population mentioned above, a high percent of the learners use technology, everyday for routine classroom tasks. Each participant must have the basic background knowledge and skills to operate a computer and navigate the internet to retrieve resources. As the module progresses, they will build the necessary skills to navigate and use the Google Apps. Furthermore, all participants must have a high level of intrinsic motivation and volition. “Motivation to learn refers to learners’ internal desire to achieve a specific goal combined with external tactics and environmental factors that influence their motivation” (Keller and Deimann, pp. 85). The impending implementation of the Google Apps acts as the environmental factor and the required professional development by the district acts as the external tactics. Therefore, in order for the learner to achieve their personal goal regarding technology integration, they must have the ability to self-regulate their activity and engagement level with is eLearning Module, and maintain a high level of motivation to see the whole process through.
The learner will be able to:
- Describe what each of the four primary Google Apps (docs, calendar, groups and site) are and what their primary functions are.
- Demonstrate how each of the four primary Google Apps work, and successfully navigate around and in each Google App.
- Implement an actual lesson in their classroom that provides opportunities for a) personal teacher use of the Apps, b) individual and collaborative student use of the Apps and c) differentiated instruction.
All of the participants will have a chance to experiment with and explore the four primary Apps. Not all participants will have a working knowledge of the Apps, prior to starting the module. To accommodate the varying levels of knowledge, all staff will be provided a link to watch a short video that demonstrates how the apps can be used in the classroom. Additionally, each App will have an advanced faculty member assigned to it, so all the participants will have a mentor throughout the module who can field any questions or concerns. To start the module off, each staff member will be provided with their username and temporary password, to gain access to the Google Apps for Education portal. From there, they will be prompted to change their password. Upon successful login, each member must watch the video, via the link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v-9ksK2uzDW-4) that was provided along with their login information. This video provides an excellent visual of how the Apps can be used in the classroom to extend learning and foster collaboration between the students and the teacher. After watching the video, the participants will use the Gmail App to send a short email confirming their successful login, and a brief statement about which App they would like to explore further for the module. Once the participants have confirmed everything with the instructor, then the instructor will set up Google Groups using the Apps, that correspond with each App. In a response email via Gmail, the instructor will notify the participant what Group they are participating in, who the assigned advanced faculty member is, and their first assignment.
The first assignment requires each participant to do further research on the App they have been assigned to. One of the sources must be a video, and the other can be whatever they would like it to be, like an article, video, info graphic, etc. They will be provided with another website, which provides a short summary of each App and any sub-apps associated with them (http://www.google.com/enterprise/apps/education/products.html#drive). From there, the participants will post their findings to the respective Group on the Google portal.
Throughout the module, all of the participants will have a chance to try out the other Apps, even though the App is not the one the participant selected as their primary focus. The deliberate integration of the other Apps will help familiarize the participant with the other Apps, so they can utilize them later on for their own teaching practices. Furthermore, it will help them gain a better understand of how the Apps can be integrated with one another to elevate the learning experience for the students in the classroom.
As the participants progress through the module, they will be tasked with the assignment of creating a lesson plan that pertains to their content area, using the App they selected for module. To start the planning process out, each participant will be encouraged to visit a website created by Google that has an extensive library of lessons that integrate Apps (http://www.google.com/enterprise/apps/education/resources/lesson-plans.html). The participants will create the lesson using the lesson plan format provided by the school district. This will ensure continuity in lesson elements and align with the districts’ best practices. The integration of the other Google Apps will be present in this activity as well. Each participant will create their lesson using the Google Docs, and share them with the other participants in their departments.
Ultimately, each participant will become a master in one of the Apps, and proficient in the other. Overtime, as the faculty starts to utilize the Apps in their instruction, they will also take advantage of the Google Chrome Books, which the school has purchased for classroom use. The end result of this eLearning module will help elevate and enhance the learning experience for the staff and students because the staff will have a better knowledge and understanding of how the Apps work and how they can benefit the students, and students can actively participate in the course work in any type of environment and connect to material in a way that is familiar to them.
Week 1 Directions:
- Once you have received the email from the instructor in Outlook, with your username and temporary password, visit google.com and sign into the App portal. The sign in button is located in the upper right hand side. Upon logging in, you will be asked to change your password. Select one you will remember, and record it somewhere.
- Watch this short video about Google Apps for education. It provides a great visual about how the Apps can be used in the classroom, and the variety of Apps available.
- After the video, send the instructor an email, using the Gmail App. In the email, indicate which App you would like to focus on for the duration of the module, and please note any questions or issues you had with accessing content.
- Check back in the portal tomorrow after 2:15, to see which group you have been placed in, and who the assigned faculty member is for support. This faculty member will act as an in-house contact for you, should you have any issues or questions pertaining to your App.
Week 2 Directions:
- Explore this website and check out the App you have selected to focus on.
- Research two (2) additional resources related to your selected App. One of those resources should be a video. The other resource can be an article, a lesson plan, an info graphic, a video, etc.
- Locate your discussion board, and post your two (2) resources to the group discussion.
- Following your initial post, explore the other posts made by your peers. Make note of the top three resources you found the most helpful. Consider your own learning style.
- Create another post in the discussion board and briefly describe the three resources you found the most helpful. Additionally, describe how you would integrate the App into your instruction to broaden your students’ learning. It should relate to your content area.
Week 3 Directions:
- Now that you have a better understanding of how the App works, and have generated an idea of how the App can be integrated into your content area, develop a lesson plan that you would actually present in one class this year.
- To assist you with the brainstorming process, check out the lesson plan resources provided by Google. You will notice that some of the lessons they have on their website integrate the use of other Apps provided by Google. If you want to explore them for your own use, you are encouraged to do so. However, your initial lesson plan should incorporate the use of the App you chose to focus on in this module.
- As you develop your lesson, make sure the lesson addresses the following:
- (A) how you plan to use the App for personal use in the classroom
- (B) how the students will use the App for an individual and collaborative learning experience
- (C) what supports will be put in place to differentiate the lessons for all types of learners
Week 4 and Week 5 Directions:
The directions and instructions for week 4 and 5 would follow similar steps and explanations.
This eLearning module requires each participant to interact and manipulate all of the Google Apps for Education, while mastering one. The Google Apps for Education are new to the Region 14 School District, therefore, many of the participants will not be familiar with how they work. “Consistency can be a useful tool to make things easier for your learner” (Dirksen, p. 150). To make the new learning environment easier for the participants, the whole module will be presented using the Google portal, each week. This will require the participant to experience the lesson content through several ways. “The more ways you have to find a piece of information, the easier it is to retrieve” (Dirksen, p. 162). In order for the brain to recall new information, it has to be stored first. The multiple exposure to the Apps and repetitive use of the Apps will help the participant retain information for recall and later use in the classroom. To ensure this learning module is student centered, they must generate the work required to complete the assignments. Various resources will be provided as a jumping off point to assist the participants in the learning process, however, the discussions and activities are centered around their teaching practices, experiences and professional goals.
“If you want someone to use something, they need to believe that it’s actually useful, and that it won’t be a major pain to use” (Dirksen, p. 351). Part of the participants motivation is contingent upon the ease of using and navigating the Apps. To provide support, each App will have an advanced faculty member assigned to it, so the participants have a reliable resource in the event of issues. Frustration and inaccessibility play a large role in motivation. If the program is too difficult to navigate, it takes the focus away from the learning experience, and places it on basic use. Since the module is centered around their professional goals and teaching practices intrinsic motivation is present. Each participant can cater the various assignments to meet the needs and topics addressed in their classrooms, which will drive their motivation and engagement. Extrinsic motivation is also a factor in the module, since the Google Apps for Education will be fully implemented in the fall, within the district. Lastly, the practicality of the module will help drive participant engagement. “The closer you can get the knowledge to the place the user is going to use it, the more likely they’ll actually do so” (Dirksen, 379). Since the participants will be expected to use the Apps in their instruction in the future, it makes the module a priority for the participants.
The sequencing of the various activities makes the completion of the module easy for the learner. All contents will be located in the Google Portal which can be accessed from any location with an internet connection. Each activity builds on the previous one, which helps the participant understand the Apps more in-depth. Introducing all of the information at once, especially when it is via an environment few are familiar with, can make the participants overwhelmed. By breaking down the information into smaller sections, and recording it in a place where the participant can access it any time, will be helpful to the participant (Dirksen, p. 383). By coupling the sequencing with authentic tasks and ongoing in-house and online support, it will help make the learning process more engaging. “The use of problems as the focus of the learning is supported by problem-based learning principles. According to those principles, learning is anchored in an authentic problem to solve” (Reiser and Dempsey, p. 67). One of the activities mentioned above requires the participants to develop a lesson plan using the App they selected. This authentic problem will require the participant to find a solution for an actual class they have to teach. To gauge the progress of each participant, they receive ongoing feedback from the instructor and assigned advanced faculty member. The feedback will act as a formative assessment, which will provide the participant and instructor with valuable information on their performance, grasp of the content, and mastery of the Apps. Summative assessments like the discussion board posts and lesson plan will provide a ranking of sorts, like a grade, which will help the participant and instructor gauge their achievement of the lesson objectives and module goal. Each assignment will also have a rubric, which helps set the expectations for each activity.
The three concepts that are most apparent in this eLearning module are rich media, designing for problem solving and post-industrial instruction. Rich media is integrated though out the module, through the use of different websites. The participants are exposed to websites with information, and variety of videos and frequently utilize the software they are learning to complete the module. Even though the rich media is used on a weekly basis, there are supports in place to provide the necessary assistance to complete the module. The intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is driven by the lesson content which is designed for problem solving. The activities are centered around the participants professional goals and instructional practices. The development of the lesson plan is an authentic task that each participant completes in their daily teaching routines. The integration of the authentic tasks helps make the application of the Apps definitive and genuine. The module is to be completed online, and can be accessed from any location. The instructor is regulating the online environment and participating, the participants are guiding their own instruction. “The postindustrial system is designed to nurture self-motivation through self-direction and active learning. Student motivation is key to educational productivity and helping students to realize their potential” (Reiser and Dempsey, p. 79). The participants are actively engaged in the learning processes, and their attainment of the objectives is dependent upon their ability to understand and successfully master the lesson content.
Apps for Education. (n.d.). Resources: Lesson plans â Google. Retrieved June 9, 2014, from http://www.google.com/enterprise/apps/education/resources/lesson-plans.html
Apps for Education. (n.d.). Products â Google. Retrieved June 9, 2014, from http://www.google.com/enterprise/apps/education/products.html#drive
Dirksen, J. (2012). Design for how people learn. Berkeley, CA: New Riders.
Feistritzer, C. E., & Washington, D. (2011). Profile of teachers in the U.S., 2011. Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Information.
Google for Education 101 (in 101 seconds). (2014, April 11). . Retrieved June 6, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXFUl0KcIkA
O’Dwyer, L., Russell, M., & Bebell, D. (2003). Elementary teachers’ use of technology: Characteristics of teachers, schools, and districts associated with technology use. Boston: Technology and Assessment Study Collaborative, Boston College.
Reiser, R. & Dempsey, J. (2012). Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology [3rd edition]. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.
SDE: Educator Standards Root Web Folder. (2006, November 30). SDE: Educator Standards Root Web Folder. Retrieved May 10, 2014, from
Download the documents for a PDF of the paper and the PowerPoint associated with the actual deployment of the eLearning Module. Simple click on the 2 links below.