Google Puts the G in Group Work

May 06, 2014
Craig Leach
Technology coordinator
San Diego County Office Of Education
San Diego, CA
CATEGORIES In the Classroom, Technology Integration

“Where’s my shooting script?” a student asks me with a frantic expression. As a TV Media instructor, sometimes I feel more like a project manager than a teacher, and that’s the way it should be! Rather than keeping filing cabinets full of scripts, storyboards, and shooting schedules, I decided to go with the Google Apps for Education suite in the classroom.

Google Apps allow my production groups to edit their scripts simultaneously, whether in class or in their living room. The comments feature embedded in the tool allows me to give students asynchronous feedback, which is essential for any student project. Finally, I’m no longer running after students with important papers they leave on their desks as the bell rings.

Here are a few ways that I integrate Google Apps into my TV Media class from the start to finish of a video project.

1. Generating Project Ideas with Google Groups: When I pitch a video project, it’s important to give students some prior knowledge about the video project, whether it’s a silent film, narrative, or news story. I also like to offer video exemplars and offer my students new film terminology. For this process, I have students interact on a discussion board, which is hosted in Google Groups and is embeddable in my class Google site. I create a post that includes an article, video, or web 2.0 activity, which prepares students to begin brainstorming for their film topic.

2. Guiding Preproduction Questions with Google Docs: For the next step, I lead groups through a series of preproduction questions to further develop their video topics. Typical questions range from "Who are your group members?" to "What interviews will you get?" to "Summarize your video in 5 words." Although this application is similar to a worksheet, it allows for multiple users to work on the document simultaneously, encouraging the delegation of specific tasks. It also allows for teacher feedback through the comments functionality.

3. Writing a Script in Google Docs: I created a Google Docs Shooting Script with a separate column for audio and video portions of the script. Students can also utilize the research bar in order to incorporate more facts and statistics into their videos. One benefit students love about composing scripts in Google Docs is the conversion to mobile apps, which comes in handy during shooting days.

4. Scheduling a Shoot in Google Calendar: High school students are busy; whether it comes to homework, clubs, or jobs, finding common times to work on video projects can be difficult. Students create shooting calendars and share with all members of the group in order to find common times to get projects done. This encourages time management and responsibility. Best of all, the calendar can also be shared with the teacher, which helps with group tracking.

5. Assessing Group Members with Google Forms: Once the script is written, the footage has been shot, and the final piece edited, I use Google Forms to promote student peer assessment. I create a Google Forms rubric and students score their classmates during a video critique session. This allows students to learn how to improve their skills and critique the works of others. Often the rubric acts as a springboard for rich group discussion.

These are just a few ways that Google Apps can be incorporated into a group-based multimedia project. For me, it’s been a great way to encourage teamwork, collaboration, and organization.