Monday, March 5, 2018

Indestructible Maps

Map hyperslides? Why do that?

(Note: I use hyperdocs and hyperslides interchangeably. Hyperslides is not an official term, but I use it.)

I'm a firm believer that technology should not be used unless there is some functional improvement to the task a teacher wants to accomplish. Technology for technology's sake is counter-productive. So when it comes to utilizing tools within GSuite, the tendency is that it becomes a digital worksheet; complete substitution for a paper-pencil activity. I want to combat that when it comes to the creating of hyperdocs or hyperslides. The purpose of a hyperdoc is to increase the level of access and collaboration. We'll explore this thought throughout the post.

A member of the social studies department at Angola High School asked me for ideas on how he can change what he is already doing and convert it something the students can accomplish on their Chromebooks. He has tons of blank maps where students have to mark and label various regions based upon historical eras. You can't use Google Maps very well for this activity because it is based upon historical regions that you cannot see on a present-day map and quite frankly there are a ton of historical maps that already exist online.  Despite those arguments, I take the stance that students need to be accomplishing a hands-on, creative task in order to lock important information in their brain. I also think it is important that students know how to use their Google tools in order to accomplish unusual tasks from time to time. Creative uses outside the norm will hopefully transfer over into future classwork.

There were also a couple of other thoughts I had as my colleague was reaching out for ideas. First, I thought making maps on the Chromebook would not be worthwhile because it would not be time efficient. Second, there wouldn't be a whole lot of functional improvement and we are borderline using technology for technology's sake. Regardless, I came up with some ideas on how it could be accomplished and make it worthwhile. I'll share my thought process when I'm in hyperdocs mode next.

What's up with the hyperdoc?

I'm going to take a detour for a moment; please hang with me. 

I've presented at numerous conferences and spent a lot of time within my own school district talking about hyperdocs. I get the question of what it is all about frequently. That's actually a tough question to answer because there are many avenues it can take. I want to dispel the notion that a hyperdoc is merely a means of creating digital worksheets. You can easily take a worksheet and turn it into a Google Doc; this same rule of thumb applies to learning management systems (Canvas, It's Learning, Schoology, etc.) A hyperdoc should take on a different role. So when you are creating a hyperdoc, here are some good questions to ask yourself:
  1. How will the organization within a hyperdoc help guide as opposed to creating confusion? Is it necessary to give a link to the entire resource or just a single page? Can you get away with a screenshot of the portion you need? (Cited of course.) The less traveling around on the screen the better. How are you going to break the information up so that it meets the needs of your students?
  2. What are you asking the students to do with the information? Are you asking questions that they can answer with a simple Google search or require them to construct a response with the various resources you provided? Will they need to provide their own links to resources?
  3. Is the response easily integrated into the hyperdoc? If you are requiring video, a hyperdoc via Google Slides might be more appropriate as they can insert a video directly into the presentation. If you are requiring a text response, are you giving them a table to work in so that it doesn't destroy the formatting of the rest of your hyperdoc? If they need to combine images and text to construct a response, the built-in Google Drawings in Google Docs or a single Google Slide will work wonders. 
  4. How will you have students collaborate? Students have great ideas and we need to harness that. Are the questions you're asking good enough that students may need to bounce ideas off of one another in order to get the most of the learning experience? Are you going to have students share the document with one another or merely sit side-by-side and chat? Will you set up the entire document to be a collaboration space for groups of students to respond? If you are doing the later, make sure you check out my post on how to hack collaborative hyperdocs in Google Classroom.
As you build and implement hyperdocs, you'll get a feel for what is effective in the layout and implementation of hyperdocs. Now, let's get back to my story. 

The Indestructible Hyperdoc

When creating a hyperdoc in a map format for my friend in the social studies department, I decided that a Google Slides presentation would be my best option. I also decided that I needed to make it "indestructible" so that students cannot move around the original map. I merely want them using the shape, line, and text tools over the top of the map without the trouble of the map getting moved. Also by making it an indestructible hyperdoc, a student could accidentally remove Slides and the templates are completely recoverable. If you aren't familiar with creating an indestructible hyperdoc by editing the master in Google Slides, feel free to check out my video. 

The other issue I thought about is that the students will not be familiar with using Google Slides to mark up a map. It is an awesome idea, but how can you quickly train the students to utilize the polyline tool, add custom colors, and provide hyperlinks to resources all within the map? For this, I created a second video and sent it to my colleague. He took my student map tutorial and placed it in the assignment in Google Classroom. If you choose to insert a map in your hyperdocs, feel free to use my demonstration video below as a resource. 

So what about collaboration? That was the fourth question I asked previously about hyperdocs. Do students need to talk about what they are learning? Yes, as long as learning is the focus of the assignment and not a traditional grade. A simple way to accomplish this would be to create small groups, provide multiple maps that are needed in the hyperslides. They could be all the same map and the students could focus on different aspects or even several different regions. Each map could be on a separate slide in the same Slides presentation. All the while students have access to the group's work and can comment and make suggestions, or speak orally during group meeting time. However, I encourage the comment feature so that teachers can access the document and view the feedback. Teachers are not omnipresent and may have other groups to tend to while and still need to check in on another group's progress. 

If you aren't sure how on the setup of these groups within Google Classroom, please check my Google Classroom hack that I linked previously for more information. It will guide you through the process of selecting students and utilizing the "reuse post" feature in order to not have to make tons of copies in Google Drive. It saves a ton of time! 

My goal

If you're still reading at this point, I hope I've challenged your ideas on how to build hyperdocs. The digital environment is just as important to the learning experience as the physical one. Hyperdocs can be fun and exciting. They won't be if they merely replace a worksheet.