Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Google Spaces - Something new, Something with potential in classroom

Came across an article that "talked" about "Google Spaces". I wonder - what's it up to?
An Introduction to Google Spaces

Explored. It took less than 10 minutes to get it up and running :)

There are 3 parts to this post:
  • 1st impression
  • Technicalities
  • Its potential

1st impression...

This is the first space I created: Books...书中自有黄金屋
- to explore its potential with an end in mind :P

The intent is to create a space to document the collection of books that I read, and meanwhile explore the features available.

Indeed, at the first look, the GUI looks pretty familiar - it's the Google look on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. The layout, the icon... maybe closer to Google+?

Similar to the G+ apps and Blogger, the posts are organised by chronological order (reverse) - with the latest post on top.

Indeed, when I attempt to change the settings, it brought me to the G+ page where all my info are there. Afterall, it's the same account and no doubt, everything is integrated.


To start the posting in the space, you will see this:
A clean space that allows us to put in some text (that serves as the first comment) as well as a hyperlink or image. This looks similar to posting in G+ Community, isn't it?

Some 'constraints' I encounter:
  • I think the greatest drawback is being unable to edit the post, or any subsequent comments
    • In fact, I had to delete the entire post and re-post because I wanted to replace the original link with an image instead.
  • Subsequent comments do not make provision for paragraphs (i.e. it will be posted once you hit the 'enter' button)
  • Subsequent comments only allow one 'type' of entry - text, image or link. You can't add text in the same comment where the video link is posted
  • I am unable to re-shuffle/ re-order the posts. All posts are organised in reverse chronological order, i.e. the latest post will be placed on top - this is not critical if the space is used to carry out a specific exercise/ activity
  • We are unable to tag/ label a post - something that could be handy if this space is going hold entries of more than one category. Nevertheless, if the space is used for a specific purpose, the absence of this feature is a non-issue
  • I used my personal GMail account to create the space. By default, I think the space is open to public as long as the link is provided. 
    • I tested viewing the space using another browser when did not log into any Google account; I could view it. 
  • Something 'strange' but I could not quite figure out yet...
    • On the other hand, in another browser when I'm logged in to the GoogleEdu account (i.e. the school account) that does not have access to Google Spaces yet, I am unable to view the space page (i.e. the webpage becomes inaccessible)
    • It says "Service not allowed" at the URL!
    • So, while the page is "public", it is not as public as I have thought of!

Its potential...

What are some ways that Spaces could be part of the learning experiences?

Let's take a closer look at what I've done... and start to generate ideas from there...
(1) The individual posts...

(2) Within each post...

Key consideration for use:
Given the 'limitations', spaces land itself into very 'focused' kind of use - as a collection of specific activities or event.
  • It is not suitable if one intends to use it over a longer period of time with a variety of learning materials (with more than one topic) posted here because of the absence of tag/ label feature (that Blogger and G+ Community have)

Some suggested uses:
While examples are tagged to subjects, some of these ideas are applicable across subjects.

1. Library/ Info Hub:
New arrivals can be posted in the space (since the posts are organised by reverse chronological order).

1. We can post a picture of the book cover (like what I did in my posts), and selected pages (interesting, eye-catching, quotes) under comments - this helps to promote the book and generate some curiosity. This idea is quite similar to what Amazon does - given potential buyer a glimpse of selected pages of the book.
2. Hyperlinks to online reviews, related video clips and additional information can come in as comments.
3. After reading the articles, readers can post their thoughts and feedback.

2. Language Classroom:
Lessons that focus a specific genre or themes.
Create a space dedicated just for this topic - it could be one lesson or a collection of lessons

1. Students to post links to websites or video clips in the space - this would generate a list of resources for a genre in the Space.
2. In the very first comment, the post author could highlight/ describe the features he/ she notices in the article/ video clip that are attributes of the specific genre or fit into the theme.
3. Peers can...
(a) add observations that the post author has missed out.
(b) ask questions/ clarify with the author's point of view if they are unclear.
(c) strengthen what the author has posted by extending what the post author has mentioned
(d) present a different point of view, to agree or disagree.
(e) enhance the post with links to relevant resources - e..g the post author might have posted an image to Van Gogh's Starry Night. Peers could add a link to the Youtube clip of the song, the wikipedia page related of Starry Night and the song lyrics at the comments of the post

3. Mathematics Classroom:
Topic of specific activities

Below are some topics and how activities could leverage the spaces.
The ideas could be applied across other topics.

E.g. (Basic) Geometry - Identifying and understanding shapes around us
1. Students can take photos of objects they see in the school or at home where they could find geometry shapes. They can describe the shape(s) and the properties in comments
2. Peers can give feedback or challenge the assumptions
3. Students could also further discuss the relationship between shapes in photos that illustrate how 2 or more shapes are put together to form regular patterns (tessellations)

E.g. Data Handling - Use of statistical representations in real life
1. Students can post links to online articles/ websites where statistical representations are used.
2. They can make reference to the context/ content and post their interpretation of the charts - this could include information that they could draw out from the accompanying text or pointing out other observations that were not mentioned before.
3. Peers can...
(a) go through the posts to seek further clarification (e.g. they think the post author has interpreted incorrectly)
(b) share their interpretation of the statistical representation that is different from the post author. This could be interpretation from another perspective, or additional points that are missed out by the post author.
(c) post an image of another statistical representation of the same set of data. This could be an alternative, or could be a more appropriate representation.

4. Science Classroom:
Topics that come with a collection of bite-size content.

E.g. Understanding Alkali metals in the Periodic Table
1. In pairs, students are assigned to an alkaline and post a video clip that illustrates the properties of the assigned alkali metal. In the first comment, they will list down the characteristics of the assigned metal.
2. They can identify other relevant online information related to the assigned metal and post the links under comments. E.g. Videos, websites, illustrations that show the application/ use of the metal in real world.

E.g. Different forms of alternatives energy sources
1. Each group/ pair are assigned to look at the one type of (new) alternative energy sources
2. In the first post, provide a description of type of energy assigned (using text)

3. Post articles/ online media (e.g. documentaries) to report on how the various countries are harnessing this form of energy, including the different reactions/ perspectives from different "interest" groups.

5. Humanities Classroom:
Building resources for comparative studies

E.g. Industrialisation in Europe countries after the first world war
1. In pairs or groups, students are assigned to study the development in an assigned country or continent
2. The pair/ group will post online resources (e.g. websites, documentary clips) in the post they in-charge of
3. Students gallery-walk to learn from each others' resources before discussion

E.g A study of different terrain types
1. In groups, students are assigned to take charge of a type of terrain.
2. In the main post, the group is to provide text responses to guided questions from the teacher (e.g. characteristics, location)
3. Students to search for photographs of the assigned type of terrain and post under comments.
4. They could add links to online websites or video clips that help to understand the topic better

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