Let’s change the traditional format of paper exams!

This week, you got lucky! Indeed, I’m gonna be adding two new posts because I had just that much to say about technology in education! This first post will be dedicated to a tool that I already used back in the days when I was doing another degree in another university (but we won’t get into that story…)

So, the tool is called Google Drive and it is itself divided into other tools which I’ll go through with you.

The first tool is called Google Docs and it basically takes the shape of a Word document. The only difference is that students can work in team to modify the document as they wish. There are a lot of things I could use Google Docs for but I’ll only name a few. First, I could use it to make discussion going about a topic covered in class. For example, I could show a movie in class and ask the students to react to it. I could provide a list of questions to guide their discussion or I could tell them to decide on what they would like to focus (the characters, for example). They could share some links on the topics (e.g.: a website with movie reviews, etc.). I could then keep track of their discussion or their answers to my questions since they could share their document with me. I could also ask my students to use Google Docs for a creative writing activity in team. I could provide them with a theme or an instruction and they could each add their own part of the story.

In the same train of thoughts, I could also get the students to work in team with another of the Google Drive tools which is Google Presentations. This tool provides students with a document similar to the one offered by Microsoft PowerPoint. The students could prepare a presentation altogether without even being in the same room. They could do the presentation of a written project that they would have done in team with Google Docs, for example. That way, they could basically cut and paste some of the information that they would already have in their other shared document. Both projects would be placed in Google Drive, which would be easier for them to access.

In addition to using it for team work, I could also use it for individual purposes. When I was a student in another program, I used it for reading comprehension activities. In fact, the teacher would give us texts to read and would provide us with two reflection questions. We would then have to choose one of the two questions and submit our answer to the teacher through Google Docs. He would then correct and add comments to our answer and even grade our work directly in the document. That semester, not a single piece of paper was exchanged between the teacher and the students! Now that’s what I call being environmentally friendly!

The last tool I want to introduce you to is called Google Form. This basically allows the teacher or the students to create different kinds of forms. The two main ideas would be to use it to survey your students or to test them. I really like the latter one because I never really liked exams as a student so I’m always trying to find new and interesting ways to test my students in the future. With Google Form, I could create a whole exam with different types of answers like multiple choices, scales or paragraph texts. The nice thing about it is that I can send the exam to the students on their e-mail address and as they open it, they are able to see the questions, answer and submit it directly in their e-mail. Another amazing thing about it is that when it comes to getting the answers from the students, Google Drive basically does the work for you! Indeed, you have the possibility to put the results of the students automatically in an Excel Spreadsheet which makes the correction a lot easier for you. You can also see when the students answered to your exam which is useful if you give them a specific amount of time to do it!

The bad thing about that tool is that you can never tell your students that you lost all their copies when, in fact, you just didn’t want to correct them! 😉

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