Monday, September 7, 2015

Building Communities of Practice with Google Apps

After Google Apps Reports API has become available we (Russian speaking Google Educator Group) started looking for opportunities to use it as a tool for improving school management, locating potential leaders and enhancing communities of practice among teachers.

Our approach is based on extracting collaborative activity evidence from teacher’s working together on Google documents. Teachers, creating and editing together Google documents, team up in clusters inside the Google Apps network. Analysin the data, we can assess their connections and their weights and see
  • Which teachers are most connected and thus have more impact on their colleagues;
  • Which school departments are supported by strong network relationships of their faculty
  • Which school leaders are more influential among teachers
  • How a personal learning network of a particular teacher is built

To collect the data we wrote a Google script which extracts all events related to teachers’ activities in their school’s Google Apps domain. As a data source we selected one school in Moscow Russia, which is in its first year of using Google Apps. At that monent 225 school faculty and staff had their Google Apps accounts.

The data we receive is structured in a Google Spreadsheet as follows: date - teacher’s account name - document name - document type - document ID - document owner. After extracting the data we filtered records, corresponding to account users, editing their own documents. After filtering the data we ran it through another script, which rearranged the data and wrote in column A of a spreadsheet the name of a document edotor of viewer, and in the column B the name of the document owner. Then we exported the data in csv format into Gephi package, which we used to analyse and vizualize the Google Apps school network.

First, we received a vizualization of the whole school network. The size of each circle represents the number of connections of an account user with other users whose document they view and edit.

To make the network more visible and operable, we used Louvian clustering algorythm (which is a part , which divided teachers into 6 clusters. Every cluster was analysed as a social network.

This helps to define the most experienced and knowledgeable teachers at school and create environment for building communities of practice.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Summer Camp with Android Mobile Devices

In August 2015 a team of Russian and Estonian educators ran a mobile technologies summer camp “ Learned Cat 2015” near Pskov, Russia. During 8 days of the camp students from Moscow, Tallinn and Pskov, equipped with Android tablets explored the area of the Puskin estate and land museum, created an augmented reality layer and programmed their mobile applications with MIT App Inventor.

The area around Pushkinsky Gory is famous for being the place where the greatest Russian poet Alexander Pushkin spent several years of his life in 1820-s and created outstanding masterpieces of Russian literature. Although his poetry is studied by all Russian secondary and high school students, very few of them get a chance to visit the place of his major insprations. This is why we chose Pushkinsky Gory as our summer camp site.

The camp was run an the BYOD model. All students we encouraged to bring their smartphones and tablets in that they have OS Android 4.0 and higher on them. At the preliminary stage of the camp we asked them to install Layar augmented reality app, MIT App Inventor Companion, Compas app, and Google Goggles for QR coding. While on site the kids explored the Pushkin estate and museum exhibits and created their points of interest in Layar. Those points of interest are now publicly available and can be used by tourists, visitinng Pushkinsky Gory.

The “Electronic Guide” created by students is not only informative, but interactive as well. To create interactve Android apps we used visual programming environment MIT App Inventor, which was localized into Russian this summer. As part of the camp program, 21 summer camp participants, most of whom were girls, learned how to program in Blockly visual applications. With MIT App Inventor summer camp participants created and published through Layar augmented reality app their own quizes, tests and quests helping their campmates to understand life and creative work of Alexander Pushkin better.

The "Learned Cat" camp was supported by Google RISE award.