Day 6: Online lab notebooks

Part of making my classroom more student-centered this year has been increasing my use of Google Apps for Education. I will take this opportunity to say that I think integration of technology without giving much attention to its effect on the pedagogy can often hurt the learning process rather than help it. Sure, it’s great–I guess–that your kids all come in, grab their Chromebooks, go to Google Classroom and start working, but we, as teachers, shouldn’t be naive enough to think this is a clear sign of learning. I’ve seen cases where there is no difference between this and handing them a worksheet as they walk in the door other than a worksheet not costing over $100.

With all that being said, this year, I decided to give my students the option to do an online lab notebook as opposed to hard copies in a composition book. I’m part of a vertical alignment team with the local college and local university, and one of the skills professors say is weak in their undergraduates is lab report writing, so I try to do as much of it as possible throughout the year. About half the AP class decided to go the online route, and today they submitted their first lab report on the Bounce Ball Lab from last week.

I like this because I’m able to type comments directly into their Google Doc, making providing feedback simpler and also making corrections or improvements on their end easier to do. Plus, I think having it available online and being able to access it from any device significantly increases the odds of them actually reading my feedback as opposed to it being ignored in an old section of their notebook or ending wadded up at the bottom of their backpacks. We’ll see how it goes.

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