Overall our task on Naming the West went very well. I strengthened my skill in using Google Docs, including creating a form for peer feedback and using their spreadsheet application to chart the reliability of websites. This last part was also a new learning from Neil Stephenson and I was glad to have had some practice at it. I also learned about how to make a website via Google. The completion of this task has lead to an increase in my ability to easily access useful technology, depending on what my task is. Furthermore, I have gained insight into how inquiry unfolds and the many ways that such projects can connect to the Program of Studies and the ICT outcomes.
In doing this task our group sometimes wondered if we were using enough technology. In discussing this we realised that we were vulnerable to falling into the classic trap of using technology just for the sake of using it. I think I learned a valuable lesson about this because we then became critical of our own use of technology, constantly asking do we really need it? In terms of collaboration, the Google Docs were really amazing. I cannot say enough about how much this tool has changed the way groups can collaborate. We rarely needed to meet in person, and worked on the project on our own time. I believe that it allowed us to do way more work in a shorter time just because we didn't have to arrange for the face to face meetings.
My initial frustration with the task was that it was really huge. It was difficult to break it down and decide when to stop. Are we doing too much? Too little? How much is enough? I think this is a question that persists into teaching though. At the end of the day, nobody is going to come into your classroom and tell you that you've done enough. You need to know where to draw those lines. It was a lot more comfortable when we decided exactly what we were going to do and delegated the tasks.
In contributing to the group, one of my strengths was in keeping up the communication. I felt that I was constantly available, replied quickly to any requests, and emailed once I had finished any component so the rest of the group could look it over. One thing that I might do differently next time, is focus more on diverse learning needs. I think we got very caught up in the task and forgot to teach it to a hypothetical class.
Overall, I think our group did fantastic and I'm very happy with our work. It was thoughtfully carried out and everyone pulled their weight. Yay team!