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JANUARY 20, 2010   

More Google: Groups

Section of Google Groups homepageI use Google so much (Maps, Docs, Analytics, Gmail, and of course Search) that I sometimes feel like I should be paid a promotional fee. Or maybe I ought to buy stock in the company.

My latest Google addition is using Groups for many of my classes. I've used Yahoo Groups in the past, but Google seems a bit easier to use. The interface is cleaner and it allows for more customization than Yahoo, at least when I last used it.

So for most of my classes I'm posting weblinks for students to use (and inviting them to share ones that they find. I'm assigning homework to be posted as Discussions, which means that students will be able to read each other's work. In the past as I've looked over homework I've often thought "I wish everyone could see this." Now everyone can. The group site is also a convenient place to put copies of the syllabus and other course material.

Some instructors use online groups as a way to reduce paper use, and that's not a bad idea. But I'm not totally sold yet on the idea of a paperless classroom. I am sold on the value of collaborative learning where students can share their knowledge rather than working in isolation. More on this to come.


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