Thursday, January 15, 2015
Teachers and students in Toronto are embracing technologies that make it easy to learn anytime and anywhere. Delighted by their creativity and innovative drive, we’re highlighting two schools that are leading the way in on-the-go learning with technology, including the Google Classroom app. The new app allows students and teachers to work on the go with new mobile-only features that enhance the experience.
More learning in and out of the classroom
Teachers at York Region District School Board (YRDSB) noticed that students often missed assignments due to disorganization, and spent valuable class time rummaging through their desks to find the papers they needed. Since the district introduced Google Classroom in 2014, students spend more time learning and less time digging through documents.
YRDSB also began piloting the Google Classroom mobile apps and found that mobile technology breaks down the barriers between life inside and outside the classroom. Teachers create assignments in Classroom, and students turn in their papers and receive feedback within minutes. Students don’t have to worry about printing assignments or keeping track of old papers.
Technology allows teachers to be creative with their lesson plans. Julia Waiser, an eighth grade and special needs teacher at Forest Run Public School, takes students on field trips around campus to take photos and videos using their phones and tablets, then discuss how math concepts apply to real world situations.
With digital education as a top priority, Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) knew it was time to replace the existing course management system with a newer, more integrated solution. They were already using Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education, so Google Classroom seemed like a natural choice.
The schools saw a rapid uptake in adoption after the pilot started in August 2014 with four teachers. Today, more than 1,200 teachers — half of the district — use Classroom. One of the reasons UGDSB chose Classroom is because it works so well with the suite of Google tools the schools have already embraced. “The Classroom app is the starting point,” says Paul Nethery, a grade 7-8 teacher at Erin Public School. “From there, we use Drive for sharing, Docs for writing, and Chrome for researching. It’s streamlined.”
Since students can access learning resources regardless of their location, they take more ownership of their learning and are empowered to engage and act as teachers themselves. “We’re all learning together, and it’s the teacher’s job to act as a catalyst rather than the sole source of knowledge,” says Bill MacKenzie, IT liaison at UGDSB. “Students have the opportunity to teach their peers and their teachers.”
As schools across North America continue introducing digital learning, more students have the resources to learn from teachers and peers via their smartphones and tablets. We’re excited to see how these schools will continue to innovate and enable students to learn wherever they are.