Google+ Communities for augmented classrooms

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Google+ Community for an Augmented Classroom, extending learning beyond the classroom

Related pattern: Mobile Learning

What

Fiona Hillary uses Google+ Communities to extend learning beyond the face-to-face classroom. Students in the New Art Forms course use the Community to share examples of art that inspires them and also examples of their own work in the course—in particular a response to a site visit—and receive feedback from their peers through the commenting and +1 features.

Why

In the School of Art, studio hours have been a mainstay of the teaching approach. Over the last few years the number of hours allowed for these has been steadily declining, while the curriculum has remained the same. The Google+ Community extends the classroom and the conversation beyond the allocated hours, and to the time and place most convenient and appropriate for the material they are learning.

Fiona asked students to share their own sources of inspiration, making this typically private process shared and articulated. As the sense of community developed in both the face-to-face and online spaces, students also shared examples of their own work. Many of the students in the course work exclusively in tactile mediums (for example, painting, sculpture, etc.). The Community encouraged them to make their own works accessible digitally, and some began exploring digital means of creation. This expanded their communication with their peers and extended the students’ practice beyond it’s usual mode.

How

  1. Establish your purpose. First identify how and why you expect students to interact in the Community, and how those interactions support the overall course outcomes.
  2. Communicate this purpose to your students, and make your expectations clear to students. Consider creating a rubric to explain the quality and quantity of posts expected.
  3. For the Community to gain momentum, teaching staff need to model best practice for the types of posts and comments on other posts.

Technical support

Google Communities are a feature of the Google suite, and can be set up within or outside the RMIT network. Communities set up inside RMIT are only open to people with RMIT accounts.) To use Communities with your RMIT login, you and students must first opt-in for Google+  at RMIT.

For more information on Communities, see:

Acknowledgements

Fiona Hillary (Teacher, School of Art)

Andrea McLagan (Educational Developer, College of Design and Social Context)

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