How I Use It
I use it for long-term writing projects, for group work, for advisement, to encourage networking. What works about the program is that it breaks down isolation for the students and helps them help each other. That it is outside the online course delivery platform for the college is both a liability and an asset. It is a liability because students who are in classes on the campus are more likely to use the chat or pager tool in that particular platform (i.e. Blackboard, Angel, D2L). The asset is that students who meet at state, national, and international conferences but who are at different campuses using different platforms can meet and develop a research/writing relationship. This is very important because a broad network is essential to overall success. One particular way I use it is for when I assign group projects. The students will meet in Google to work on them. This is an important tool for commuter students who may not be on campus outside of class time. It makes it easier for them to grab a moment during their work lunch hours to meet with their groups and get work accomplished. It frees up my class time for teaching! I can also use it to talk to students who may not be able to make it to campus during my office hours. It is great. This works well with a product like Degree Works if you want to advise commuter students who might be online students or who attend night and weekend college.
I really like this product for advanced students writing projects that require long periods of self-direction. Encourage them to log on and keep it open as they write in a Google account that they only share with their cohort. They will need to pop on and write together or just make sure they encourage each other. Used in tandem with the Pomodoro app, I find this really great. It is especially good for students who don't live on campus or who met at conferences, live in different places, but who research and write on similar topics. My take on how it truly transforms my classroom? It changed my classroom from a place we meet for 80 minutes twice a week to a virtual world that's always on and always connected. Working students, those who are parents or caregivers can connect beyond campus and outside class time. It is also transformative in that it has helped students who are attending college in their community (who may not have had many opportunities to leave it) to network beyond the borders of their campus and their community! So, when we go to conferences, I challenge the students to make at least 5 contacts and engage them on Google. I ask them to try to chat with their contacts at least once a week about their progress in school and the latest books they've read. Additionally, the younger students are constantly online and on social media. Google is engaging to them, as it gives them a chance to do both in the context of the classroom. This product has improved the students' learning experience, particularly when it comes to extending the time they have to engage and interact about the topics we're covering.