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Rachel Quirk and Jessica Colgan



Definition

Google Groups is a free service from Google. Users can join already existing groups or create their own groups. Once in a group the user can share files, invite friends, create pages and join in discussions. Users do not need to have a Google account to use Google Groups, but without one you are restricted on what you can do in a group.


Brief History

In February 2001, Google acquired Deja News, which provided a search engine to access an archive of Usenet newsgroup articles. Users were then able to access these Usenet newsgroups through the new Google Groups interface. By the end of 2001 the archive had been supplemented with other archived messages dating back to 11 May 1981.Shortly after, Google released a new version, which allowed users to create their own (non-Usenet) groups. In February 2006, Google modified the interface of Google Groups, adding profiles and post ratings. (Wikipedia, 2008).

Key Features

Google Groups is very simple to set up and use. All you need is a Google account and away you go. Without an account you are only really able to view existing Google Groups.
In Google Groups you are able to;

  • Create or join groups of similar interest.
  • Invite friends to join.
  • Post discussions.
  • Respond to discussions.
  • Upload files.
  • Create a personal profile.
  • Create web page.
  • Email.
  • Customize your groups page.
  • Settings to make it a safe and private environment.

Below is an example of what a homepage in Google Groups looks like.

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To have a closer look at Google Groups and its features clink the link below:

Google Groups Tutorial.


Education value

The learning theorist Vygotsky proposed that adults help children attach meaning to objects and events around them. In recent times theorist have elaborated on this idea. They point out that an adult such as a parent or teacher often helps a child to make sense of the world through joint discussion of a phenomenon or event they have mutually experienced. (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p.167.)

Google Groups gives teachers and parents the opportunity to help students make sense of their world through discussions completed in the group. This might seem like an out there idea, but our students now live in a technology rich environment and we need to cater for it. In discussions in the group the students are able to recieve help from adults on a particular subject that is of interest of them. Inside the group a child can post a question and the teacher can help them find the answer by guiding them to the right place.

Piaget proposed that children are active and motivated learners. He believed that children do not just passively observe and remember the things they see and hear. Instead, they are naturally curious about their world and actively seek out inormation to help them understand and make sense of it. (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004, p. 141.)

Google Groups can be used to give the studnets the opportunity to explore and seek information. A teacher can create a safe Google Group with; links, web pages, discussions and photos that the children can explore and actively go through to find the information they are looking for. Children love to search the Internet and Google Groups gives them the opportunity to search the items and links in the group in a safe environment. The teacher, as the manager of the group, is able to explore and monitor the students activity within the group.

Ways Google Groups can be used in the classroom

  • Teacher and student communication.
  • Teacher and parents communication.
  • Post photos and videos of 'what is happening' in the classroom for the parents to see.
  • Homework/ assignments.
  • Topic discussions between teacher and students.

Future Learning

Google Groups is a free online service, that anyone with internet access can use. Users can join existing groups or create their own group.

Below is a link to a PowerPoint presenation that guides you through creating your own group. Creating your own Google Group can be done by following these simple steps.

How to create a Google Group.pptx

Future Teaching

Below are links on how educators and teachers can use Google Groups.

Google Groups in the classroom.pdf

Google Groups for educators.

The link below is from our Google Group 'Using computers in the classroom'. We asked our class of future educators, what their opinion of Google Groups is and if they would use it in their classroom.

Discussion on Google Groups in the classroom.