Thursday, June 20, 2013

Google Maps: Online Certificate Course Mid Way Assessment

I've been taking the Google Maps and Google Earth online certificate course.  As I'm taking the course, I find my focus to be three-fold:
  • First, I am focused on learning the tool.  
  • Next, I'm thinking about how I can use this tool with my students.  
  • Finally, I'm observing the way Google has created the course for apt online learning.  
The tool is amazing, and it's not a simple study. The course takes time, and I'm not sure it was the best decision signing on during the final two weeks of school, but I hope to persist and earn the certificate. I enjoy studying geography and maps so I'm finding the entire learning path to be a virtual field trip.

What has surprised me most about this course is the amount of creativity involved, and like any creative project the potential is limitless.  I could literally spend an entire day making each assignment map, but I'm limited by time. I am awestruck by the level and intelligence of each teaching module (video, links, activities) as the language and links are precise, targeted and concise; the attitudes of the presenters are engaging and encouraging; and the organization is stellar.  That's what all teachers aim to do with every lesson. Hence, this course is a model of wonderful teaching too.  Beth Liebert's course quotes exemplify this:
  • "You are a mapping pro, Think about how you can use categories to tell a richer story on your own map."
  • 'Don't be afraid to use your imagination. We can't wait to see what you'll come up with."
Google's new maps is a sophisticated tool, yet it's a tool that can be used simply with elementary schools students as well as with much more detail and depth with high school and college students.  As I think about my elementary school students, I'll begin using this tool next year as we get to know one another and explore our local community.  We'll create a collaborative class map that shows our favorite local places to play, hike, eat, and shop.  We'll also add the places we live. Then we'll chart landforms and other places of interest as well as information related to the standards at the grade level.  Later we'll start the collaborative cross country team tours using the maps where teams of students will chart their virtual adventures as they learn about United States' regions.

Finally, as I work to design a 24-7 classroom, a classroom program that can be accessed anywhere at any time independently and collaboratively, I am finding that this course is a terrific exemplar--a model to follow. I will write more about this later, but it is a strong focus as I work through each layer of study.

Are you currently engaged in this online course?  Have you taken similar certificate or educational programs?  If so, how does this compare for you?  What other online learning modules would you recommend for professional educators and/or students?  

I continue to marvel at the educational crossroads apparent today, and I continue to repeat:

It's a brave new wonderful world of learning!