Creating, revising, testing content: learning by Google apps round tripping

  • Mobile phones
  • Vocabulary for GDocs app
  • Google Goggles
  • Picasa
  • Picasa mobile app
  • Google Forms
  • Google Spreadsheets
  • Blogger
  • Google Maps (optional)
  • Google Sites (optional)
Most e-teachers associate one educational with one educational activity. However, most of Web 2.0 is “mashable” and particularly Google apps have a high potential to be re-used in Moodle, on blogs mobile apps and so on. In this post I would like to suggest an idea for a class project that includes creating, revising and testing content, which you consider a “learning cycle” from a constructivist point of view.

In one of my own biology classes I can recall quite well, we students had to collect leaves from trees and bring them to class. We thus created a kind of leaf catalogue and then we had to determine from which tree the leaves came from. I probably remember this particular class because we did not learn from a book but we had to create the “knowledge” ourselves. Of course, the leaves ended up in the bin and I never became very good at determining tree leaves.

If I were a biology teacher now, I probably would assign the students a similar task.  The students have to go to a park or forest and take pictures of leaves. They upload the pictures to a Picasa album (easiest option via email) and check out if Google Goggles can find the correct name of the tree.

After the deadline the teacher creates a new album from the uploads and shows it via projector to the class. While going through the photos the teacher tries to elicit the correct answers or provides them himself at the same time labeling the photos. And voilà, you have on online catalogue of leaves! You can then use this catalogue to “create” flashcards by downloading it to the Vocabulary for GDocs app. Both the online catalogue and the mobile phone flashcards can be used for revision. Alternatively you could use a simple photo viewing app that connects to Picasa (e.g. Just Pictures! - enable captions to see the text that goes with each picture!)

Optionally you could create a Google map with the (geotagged!) photos, which could also be used for revision or simply for curiosity’s sake. Another great way of revising would be creating a wiki in Google Sites (choosing a mobile template will make the wiki mobile friendly). 

The final part consists in the teacher creating a multiple choice test using the photos from Picasa. Picasa automatically creates thumbnail photos, which are the ideal size for multiple choice tests (right click to copy the thumbnail URL). The test itself is created using Google Forms, Blogger (for embedding the form and adding the photos, which cannot be embedded directly in Google Forms) and the Google spreadsheet, where the answers are stored. If you have set the blog to mobile friendly (settings: email & mobile) the students can even take the test on their mobile phones.

This class project may sound rather complicated, however all the required tools are rather simple to use and if you are familiar with them it is a matter of minutes to create the online catalogue, the flashcards and the quiz. To sum up:

  1. The students take the pictures of the leaves and send them to Picasa
  2. The students try to find out the names of the trees using Google Goggles (might not always work)
  3. In class the pictures are discussed and labeled, at the same time creating an online catalogue
  4. The students use the catalogue to create flashcards for their mobile phones and for revision (with a simple photo viewing app or Vocabulary for Gdocs)
  5. The teacher uses the photos to create a multiple choice quiz using Google Forms and Blogger
  6. Optionally create a Google Map showing the locations of the pictures
  7. Optionally create a wiki in Google Sites for further studies

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