Engaging learners in the Google classroom: A reflection of an English teacher  

 

Yadu Prasad Gyawali

Abstract

The paper aims to explore the perceptions of learners towards Google classroom as an alternative learning management system and the experience of the instructor on the use of google classroom in the pandemic of Coronavirus. More specifically, it explores an essence of alternative modes of teaching-learning practices during pandemic in higher education institutions. It focuses on some possible virtual means of teaching-learning activities from home applying no-cost application. However, digital gap was observed in terms of knowledge, skills and locality of the learners. Additionally, the paper reported that the use of google classroom has been comfortable, feasible and meaningful to manage learning resources and assignments as the learners can save materials for future uses, submit assignments on time and develop collaborative learning situation among learners.

Context

Language teaching and teacher education are interrelated, and they get changed in course of time, context and situation. Teachers’ education provides pedagogical knowledge and expertise for teachers. Teacher’ pedagogical wellbeing help teachers explore and implement appropriate strategy in the classroom. For the successful accomplishment of content knowledge, teachers must be able to adapt of new technology in the classroom pertaining to the level and interest of the learners. Moreover, teachers must bring tacit, embodied and integrated course skills to empower learners. However, it is not easier to educate and empower diverse learners and develop their capabilities without incorporating recent technological development for instructional purposes. Bates et al. (2017) report that technology innovation is directly related to societal transformation as we find the change or modification of social framework. It is the change in attitude, behaviors, and activities connected with cultural and economic values. In doing so, every teacher must contribute to his/her professional practice bringing diverse content connecting to pupil’s attitude, behaviors, and activities. Similarly, Geiller (2014)reports that the in-service teachers need to be involved in refresher courses as they need to bring technological emersion in the classroom through the use of applications of online community such as Google classroom . However, Bashir (2019) argues that teachers capacity, context  and availability of the resources support to the adaptation to new learning style with the use of technological tools and application in distance and virtual mode.

While analyzing the situation about technological assets, teachers must pay proper attention on the mode of delivery (Baykal et al., 2019; Kokoç, 2019) and sometimes teachers must appropriately use of technologies in the classroom for the prior management  of content, technological awareness and pedagogical knowledge(Mishra & Koehler, 2006; Shulman, 1987)for the successful delivery of contents knowledge. However, teachers should discharge the prior duties and responsibilities of the self and the students in the classroom. At the present context, teacher education is in the form of redesigning concepts. Velez-Rendon (2002) states that the evolvement of new perspectives in teacher education results in the paradigm shift towards the quality gradation and research-oriented activities.  In my observation, we need to develop a strategy based on the learning context and learnability. We need to focus on the text, technology, techniques and team spirit for reforming teacher education in Nepal. Furthermore, Ozer (2020) explains that teachers must acknowledge student differences of timing, interest, style, knowledge and attitude through effective instruction and instructional techniques. Teachers must identify the desired outcome of instruction and determine ways to document and validate the achievement of those outcomes.

On the other hand,  Chowdhury et al. (2018) exemplify that there are some other groups of teachers who are very keen and cling to the use of ICT. They feel they can give their best performance with the help of ICT. In one way, ICT has made their profession easy as well as challenging. The use of technology has made teachers comfortable in which they prepare short notes in the form of the slides and present in the class as per their convenience. In contrary, it is challenging in the sense that, they need to be upgraded and updated with the new innovation of technology. The current need of classroom engagement is substituted by the technological immersion through online mode and it has been one of the viable approaches during and after pandemic. The use of online mode eradicates any sorts of pandemic either that is coronavirus or any other emergencies. Teachers need to be involved in the alternative mode of teaching learning practices as discussed in (MOEST, 2020; Nepal Education Cluster, 2020). Therefore, the teacher’s technological capacity needs to be resourced through teacher education. As a result, they practice the appropriate teaching learning modality as per the context or locality and they attain what they wanted to achieve. Therefore, this study aims to explore learner’s perception in the use of Google Classroom and the experience of the instructor while implementing Google Classroom to the University (undergraduate) students. The guided research questions of the study were:

  1. What are the perceptions of students in using Google Classroom in higher education?
  2.  In what way instructor observes and experiences the use of Google Classroom while implementing in undergraduate classes?

Methods

The qualitative approach following by focus group discussion and participant observation (Lambert & Lambert, 2012) were used to find out the perception of the learners in the use of Google classroom in the pandemic. The study was carried out in Mid-West University in undergraduate program under the English Education instruction Committee. The students studying in B.Ed Semester second and Semester fourth were  the population of the study and six students were selected for the focus group discussion of the study applying a purposive sampling method as suggested by (Cohen et al., 2007).Similarly participant observation was held to reflect the situation of the use of Google Classroom by the researcher. The obtained information from focus group discussion and participant observation was analyzed by using a descriptive summary of the information.

Results

Google Classroom an application that is easily and freely accessible became the choice of the University students for learning content and technological skills. For example Bashir (2019) reports the interactive use of online application for the development of cooperative context of learning through collaboration. Similarly, Geiller (2014) suggests the need of in-class training of online applications like Google Classroom to the learners as a result they can achieve the better performance in language skills. The discussions of the several studies in different contexts such as (Karaaslan & Çelebi, 2017; Kobayashi, 2015; Kokoç, 2019) report that Google classroom as an adoptable application in the developing countries has  introduced new experiences of gaining knowledge and sharing skills through collaboration both in online and offline modes.

This section is divided into two subsections. The first section discusses on the learner’s perception towards Google classroom and the following subsections deals on the personal experience and the observation of the researcher.

Learners’ perception to the use of Google classroom

The students involved in this study found motivated to the use of Google Classroom. They were found growing their interest towards technology as they could explore resources, submit assignments, and interact with peers and teachers. They argued that they could access Google Classroom from mobile and laptop at home connecting broadband internet or mobile data.  One of the students explained:

The use of Google Classroom was new for me, I involved actively in activities suggested by the instructor. I could access from mobile phone using mobile data. The Google classroom was useful for learning content, sharing ideas with peers and instructor. Its easy to use and we can access without paying any cost. (S1)

S1 reflected Google Classroom as a useful application which enables learners to participate in classroom activities and keep busy them in exploring resources. Some of the participants in the focus group discussion revealed that the use of Google classroom motivated them to the exploration of resources, develop collaboration among peers , however they faced some technological challenges such as power cut, instability of internet connectivity and lack of technological skills. For example, some of the participants expressed:

Google Classroom is the good application for us. For me I can explore reading resources and suggest friends to explore more with the link provided. Another thing is we can get other relevant resources with the help of the link provided by instructor. (S2)

I got excited with the use of Google Classroom, it’s like Facebook. I used to spend about Four hours in Facebook everyday but nowadays I spend only one hour in Facebook and other time I marked gor the Google classroom. I read the reading materials, submit assignment, comment on the issues provided by teachers and friends. Google Classroom made me different, and I became able to motivate myself in study. (S3)

In the pandemic, I was in the remote village where there was lack of internet. Only mobile data can work. I could only attend a class by teacher. Teacher instructed for the use of Google classroom for finding reading resources, submitting assignments and interacting with friends. Although, I had problem of internet in the village, I explored the resources in google Classroom and downloaded them through mobile data. I could read and develop assignment reading in offline mode. So, Google Classroom keeps me busy in pandemic and I realized it as a good and handy application. (S4)

These responses suggested that Google Classroom helped students to connect and communicate with the resources, peers, and teachers. Furthermore, students showed the positive influence of using Google Classroom for the purpose of study and submitting assignments and it is useful for sharing learning in the platform. However, there was digital gap in the implementation accordingly the level of knowledge, skills, locations and resource availability in the context of learners.

Personal experience: Reflection and observation

The world’s educational system has been extensively transformed. Teachers adopt and adapt several strategies in online learning management systems. They incorporate ICT, social media and web tools in English language teaching. Teachers practice different online tools and learning systems extensively in the classrooms for planning and sharing lesson contents, recording attendance, providing assignments, feedbacks and grading for the students’ work primarily in many developing countries of the world. In my personal experience, I have been using google classroom, Moodle, google docs, google sheets and google forms, etc. to empower students and to integrate students in google classroom pertaining to university classes in Nepal because teachers and students connect freely with Gmail accounts to experience varied skills and ideas about google classroom.

While observing the use of Google classrooms in higher ELT classes in Nepal, online platform has been an innovative practice for a concerned community of practice but it has been diverse due to less integration in educational settings particularly in English language classrooms. Brick and Cervi-Wilson (2015) opine that the ICT and educational policies have emphasized to transform traditional ways of teaching into technology-mediated ones by using ICT tools. So, there has been a huge gap between government documentation in policy and its practical implementation in educational sectors.

In my observation, there are several challenges to incorporate in the online platform in the ELT classes of Nepal. The problems and challenges vary in different institutions, teachers and students. They experience different practice and gain access to teaching students in the technology-mediated classroom effectively. They lack in internet access, and ICT tools. Moreover, they lack in teachers’ technological knowledge and skills and they are also poor at digital learning environment. In educational institutions, teachers adopt various potential applications into English language classrooms. Despite the world’s widespread practice of ICT technologies, social media, and online learning platform, it has been realized that teachers required to have the several tools and applications for online delivery such as Google classroom, google meet, Edmodo, zoom, and other dynamics of google features such google sheets, google docs, google drives to tackle students in different classes of Bachelor and Masters’ level. At the present situation of COVID-19 pandemic, what I have observed that participating students into the virtual platform of Google classroom has become more advantageous to address the current alternative demand of e-learning classes in higher education as it is handy and accessible to learners in the remote areas.

Conclusion

The use of alternative pedagogy has been the dire need of time. There are several choices for teachers and students to explore the world around them. Teachers teaching in the 21st century equip with content knowledge, technological awareness and a sense of responsibility in enabling students to achieve success in their personal and professional journey. We concluded that teachers are not the content provider alone rather they the researcher and practitioner and facilitators for the students. The knowledge and skills about the content must be intertwined with their personal, social and educational background. English language teacher education is expected to serve better learning exposure in virtual mode. However, it has a close association with the second as well as foreign language teaching-learning context. Teaching excellence requires technological knowledge and expertise more than a teaching degree or pre-service training. It can only be achieved when teachers are involved in ongoing processes of experimentation, reflection, collaboration, and research/publication on effective teaching. The use of learning management system such as Google classroom has been one of the vibrating assets to foster teaching learning situation and technological awareness for the learners in the language classroom (Rodriguez Moreno et al., 2019) which is helpful in enhancing technological knowledge in diverse classroom. Thus, it is believed that  present situation demands practical knowledge, skills, training and insights(Mishra et al., 2011) in order to explore the good ELT practices and enhance cooperation and collaboration through the technological incorporation in the pedagogy and content development.

References

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Author’s bio:

Yadu Prasad Gyawali is the Assistant Professor under the Faculty of Education at Mid-West University (MU), Surkhet Nepal. Mr. Gyawali is also a teacher trainer, consultant, and the editor for different journals. He currently serves as a member of the research committee under the faculty of education at MWU. He is also associated with Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA), Society of Transnational Academic Researchers (STAR) and also serves as a visiting faculty at Chandigarh University, India. Moreover, he has participated and presented different papers nationally and internationally. Mr. Gyawali is also an M.Phil. scholar at Nepal Open University, Kathmandu, Nepal. His areas of interests include teachers’ professional development, and ICT in education.

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