Rich Kiker was one of the presenters at the Teachers Teaching Online MOOC hosted over at WizIQ. I learned a lot watching his presentation, and as the number one voted Google Apps Trainer in the world, I was eager to interview him so he could share his knowledge and experience with us online English teachers.
In the interview I ask Rich about using free Google products and apps as a way to connect and collaborate with our learners. I have used many of these products and know how useful and effective they can be when teaching online.
There’s a lot of value in this interview, and below the video I summarize what we talk about, post some resources, and expand on the ideas.
Here is the video interview:
What We Discussed
We talked about several different Google products and applications during the interview. Let’s start with Hangouts.
We started by discussing how to connect with learners online using Hangouts. I was using Google Hangouts on Air (I wrote about this here) for the interview, and Rich talked about the distinction between Hangouts and Hangouts on Air.
Hangouts on Air are live events where you want to reach a big audience (or to record the interview like I did), while a private Hangout is what you need to teach your one-to-one or group lessons online.
Rich talked about the different features of Hangouts, especially how we can integrate Google Drive.
“What’s beautiful about Hangouts… it also has its own mini app platform. When you’re in a Hangout, on the left of the screen, you can see a range of tools.. you can share Youtube videos, and watch a Youtube video together in theatre view… there are screen sharing apps… I think, for this audience doing online instruction, the most powerful feature is the direct drive integration.”
Here is how to use Google Drive inside of a hangout:
Rich talks about Google Drive and highlights two big picture features:
1. The anytime, anywhere access. The ability to use a cloud based application and work with students no matter where you are or what device you are using.
“The any time any place access is critical, especially when we have students using mobile devices.”
2. Using Google Drive as a way to collaborate with learners, both live and asynchronously. This is both for written and audio feedback.
“Online… is a better platform for delivering feedback and providing quality assessment to students to have second chance learning, and evaluate writing, and also to give them the opportunity to provide revisions.”
Here is the application that Rich mentioned so that you can leave audio feedback for your learners, and vice-versa: Kaizena. This is something that I’m going to start using with my students.
There are other add-ons that you can find through Google Drive. Here is how to find them:
I then asked Rich about Google Plus and how an online teacher could use this platform to communicate with learners and attract students. He mentioned a guide from Eric Curts as an easy way to get started: click here to access this.
Rich gives a great tip about to to find those within your niche: search and go into communities that are already active and then…
“… like any other social network, like Twitter or LinkedIn, you gain value by adding value.”
You can build your network by adding people to your circles (like following/friending someone on Facebook). You can ask people to share their favourite circles, and start networking within this community.
Just like any platform, it’s all about becoming familiar with how it works, connecting with others, and adding value. Here is what Google Plus looks like (when searching for communities):
Rich was using a Chromebook for this interview, and said:
“I absolutely would recommend a Chromebook to anyone in an online space.. there’s no anti-virus, it turns on in eight seconds, there’s no versions, it’s always on the latest update and updates don’t cost anything.”
Rich goes onto to say that they are much more powerful than people give them credit for and he actually replaced his thousand dollar computer with a Chromebook..
I found it really interesting when he talked about the difference between local and cloud based applications, and how companies are moving their applications to the web. I feel that getting a Chromebook is a great option for those who want a low cost device as it has everything a teacher needs to teach online.
(Note: A Chromebook is a laptop that uses Chrome OS. Applications such as Skype, iTunes, and Photoshop can’t be used on this device. Any browser or cloud based applications can be used, including: Hangouts for teaching online, Pixlr for editing photos, and Google Drive for spreadsheets and documents.)
The Chromebook that Rich uses is currently available for under $300. Here is more information about this.
Conclusion and Discussion
Although Rich and I only talked about Google products and apps, I think this interview really highlights the progress in tools available to online teachers and learners in general.
Two points really stood out for me: firstly, the fact that applications and work in general is moving from the local space to the cloud, and secondly that collaborating with learners online through the tools mentioned is in many ways more effective than traditional teaching methods.
I would love to know your thoughts on these issues and the other things that we discussed. Also, if you have used any of these tools, then please let us know how you are using them and any tricks and tips that you have. For example, how would you use a tool such as Kaizena?
Leave your comments below.