How Does a Google Moderator Facilitate Learning Within the Classroom?

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HowDoesaGoogleModeratorFacilitateLearningWithintheClassroomTechnology is an integral part of our teaching process, today. It is not uncommon to see teachers make use of attractive and innovative tools like smart boards, clickers, virtual reality etc to stimulate and facilitate the process of learning in the classroom. Joining this influx of technology in the classroom is a tool launched by Google- the Google Moderator.

What is a Google Moderator?

The moderator is a web based tool which allows the user or teacher to prepare a series of topics to which the audience (students) can post various questions. The teacher then addresses these questions either in the classroom or as replies posted online.

The tool allows students to vote on questions, indicating that a particular question is frequently asked and needs to be addressed as a priority. Teachers can also vote for the question that they consider the most relevant and interesting.

How does it help in the classroom?

The cloak of anonymity encourages all students to freely post their questions using the moderator. The tool allows students to ask any number of questions i.e. they can post questions related to the lecture presented within the class and also post those questions that arise when they do additional reading. Being internet dependent, students can post their questions when at home, thus saving the trouble of waiting for another day to clarify their doubts.

The Google moderator therefore, serves as a platform for discussions, question-answer sessions and allows for the free flow of ideas and thoughts on a topic

For teachers, the tool is beneficial as it helps them know what students have understood, their misconceptions, and serves as a feedback system.

The limitations:

Usually the moderator allows only the user, i.e. the teacher to answer the questions. Thus students have to wait till the teacher posts their replies. It also limits student communication and sharing of information as the moderator prevents students from adding their thoughts to the questions.

Google moderator in the classroom:

One way of handling the above mentioned limitation is to provide special admin access to all the students so that we can allow the free flow of information. This open access encourages students to answer familiar questions, cite links or sources which contain additional information and create a forum for open discussion and participation. Another method is to link the moderator to the classroom wikis which can be used as a forum for discussing and sharing information.

Teachers can add structure to the use of the moderator by informing the students that the answers would be posted during particular time duration. Questions posted after that would be viewed and addressed in the next class. This also enables teachers to prioritize answering the questions i.e. the simple ones can be answered as replies to the posts, whereas the frequently asked, challenging questions may require a face to face approach with elaboration and clarification.

Advance preparation of a topic allows students to post their queries a day before, which is then addressed as the lecture takes place. This gives the teacher the opportunity to prepare the class bearing in mind the queries and create more opportunities for information processing to occur, thus stimulating a top down learning approach in the classroom.

Thus Google moderators can be a valuable tool in the classroom.

Discuss here: How have you used web forums or discussions with students to promoting learning beyond the classroom?

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