Using Google Suite for the Universal Design of Learning
Google Suite, along with Google’s Chrome browser’s Omnibox and useful extensions, can be used to enhance the teaching of all learners with universal instructional design principles. Google Suite is the new name for these features: Google Apps (Docs, Forms, Sheets, Slides), Classroom, and Drive. This blog focuses on the use of technology to augment instruction through differentiation via scaffolding, formative assessments, and student collaboration. Google’s professional development opportunities and teacher resources are also addressed.
There are several efforts to design education with universal design in mind. Palmer and Caputo (2003) proposed seven principles for universal instructional design (UID): accessibility, consistency, explicitness, flexibility, accommodating learning spaces, minimization of effort, and supportive learning environments. The UID model recognizes those needs for course design. Its main premise is equal access to education and extends this to all types of learners and not just those with disabilities. For example, all learners can benefit from multi-modal lessons. Palmer and Caputo’s principles should be kept in mind as you develop differentiated instructional learning scenarios with Google Suite. See my blog post to learn more about the universal design for learning.
My College is a Google Apps for Education campus, which means we have unlimited storage on our Drive and seamless access to Google Suite through our school Gmail. Speak with your Google Suite administrator to learn about the features and functions of your access, as some institutions like my alma mater block YouTube and Google+.
The following scenarios address possible technology solutions for teaching all learners. For instance, scaffolding supports different learners’ preferences, as well as the needs of lower-performing students. Formative assessments are important to obtain ongoing feedback on student performance; use these often. They can be formal or informal (practice tests, exit tickets, polls). Formative tests promote active learning, which leads to higher retention of information learned. Use the following list to add your ideas and scenarios for differentiated lesson planning.
|Scaffold Learning||Google Tools & Features||Formative Assessments||Your Ideas & Scenarios|
|Provide visuals for structure, context, or direction & just-in-time definitions||Google Drawings, Docs’ Explore tool, & Drive||Students make their own graphic representation of a concept or complete guided tasks with the frame provided by an instructor.|
|Provide authentic speaking practice prior to oral test/presentation||Google Docs’ Voice Typing, Chrome Browser’s Omnibox for a timer, & Drive||Students work individually or in small group turn-taking voice typing their scripts/stories on Google Doc within a timed parameter on a split-screen.|
|Check for comprehension to obtain data to drive instruction/remediation||Google Forms, Sheets, Classroom, & Drive (Alternative: Google Slides new feature allows for asking questions & polling question priority live from slide.)||Students take a quiz on Google Forms to demonstrate knowledge after a lesson (exit ticket) or homework. Instructors receive Form responses in a Google Sheet. Sheets has an Explore tool for analyzing data for a visual display for data-driven discussions among teacher cohort/supervisors. Auto import grades from Forms to Classroom gradebook.|
|Students use app with embedded choices to check their own grammar||Free Chrome extension, Grammarly and/or app||Students correct errors in their first writing drafts on the app or within online writing platforms (e.g., wiki, blog, or email). Grammarly is also available for MS Office and Windows but not for Google Docs. Use its app to check Docs or other writing formats by pasting content to New Document.|
|Hi/low peer collaboration and/or tutoring||Google Apps, Classroom, & Drive||Students share settings on project Docs, Drawings, etc. to collaborate via text comments or synchronous video chat sessions.|
Resources for Digital Literacy Skill Training
- Did you know that Google provides lesson plans for information literacy?
- Do you need to teach your students how to refine their web searches? See Google Support.
- Internet Safety Tip- Recommend that students use incognito browsing on Google Chrome when conducting searches to reduce their digital footprint. See Google’s YouTube playlist, Digital Citizenship and Security, and their training site for more information.
Accessibility Resources for Assistive Technology
Here’s the link to the G Suite User Guide for Accessibility.
- ChromeVOX – Google’s screen reading extension for the Google Chrome browser and the screen reader used by Chrome Operating System (OS).
- TalkBack – This is Google’s screen reading software that is typically included with Android devices. Due to the design of Android and its customizability by hardware manufacturers, TalkBack can vary and may not be included on some Android devices.
- Screen Magnifier – This is the screen magnification software included with ChromeOS. The magnification function in ChromeOS doesn’t have a unique product name like other platforms.
- Hey, Google – This is Google’s personal assistant, which is available on the Google Chrome browser, ChromeOS, and many Android devices.
Professional Development for Educators
- Google Educator Groups
- Google for Education Directory
- Google Training Center
- (My site) Instructional Design LibGuide for Google Suite
Other Tools and Support
- Chrome Webstore Extensions – For example, install the G Suite Training Chrome browser extension to get trained within your Google Suite applications. After installation, refresh the page and it will show you what each feature does.
- Google URL Shortener: https://goo.gl/
- Google Help: https://support.google.com/
Palmer, J., & Caputo, A. (2003). Universal instructional design: Implementation guide. Guelph, Ontario: University of Guelph.
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