Moving the learning from the Discussion Board to the cloud

Nazim Ali

Abstract

Introduction
An important element of Problem Based Learning (PBL) is the collaborative learning experience which requires students to interact effectively as a group. However situating students in a group is not enough for them to engage collaboratively. Students require support and scaffolding mechanisms to make their interactions constructive for effective learning. This led the need to find a platform to act as a supporting mechanism for collaborative learning. This study aimed to assess whether Google Slides would enable students to collaboratively build their knowledge to support their own learning.

Methodology
Students were asked to evaluate their experience of collaborative learning and information sharing using the existing format, Discussion Board. Students then used Google Slides as an alternative for collaborative learning. Students’ evaluation of their PBL experience was captured using Likert-based questionnaires and free-text data was gathered using Google Forms.

Results
Students perceived Google Slides to be a better learning tool in comparison to the Discussion Board. Students also reported that the use of Google Slides allowed them to be organized and time efficient in working collectively to understand and share knowledge. This coincided with students reporting Google Slides to be more effective for collaborative learning than the Discussion Board. Furthermore, the revision history feature showed student’s individual engagement in the collaboration effort.

Discussion
This study showed that Google Slides is an effective platform for knowledge sharing, a critical aspect of PBL. Google Slides being cloud based computing enables students to interact in real-time which is an advantage for collaborative learning. It provides teachers the potential to track the contribution and engagement of students offering assessment and feedback opportunities. Thus Google Slides could be used as an online platform for students to work together to support their learning as well as for teachers to obtain learner analytics and make it flexible.

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