Let’s Get Hyper About HyperDocs!

A HyperDoc is a Google platform to encourage deeper learning and ensure that sound pedagogy is at the centre of learning tasks. It can be in the form of a Google Doc, a Google Slide Deck, a Google Map or Google Sites. Recently educators have also been using other tools such as Book Creator and Deck.Toys (an interesting new tool that has been brought to my attention) to deploy their HyperDocs. Teachers are innovative beings and it is for this very reason that HyperDocs appeal to them. They allow for creativity in design and offer students an enriched learning experience.

Originally developed by Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis, HyperDocs have been around for a little while. However, as with anything technological, especially in education, they took a while to gain momentum, particularly in South Africa. However, after attending the last Google Summit, I just knew I HAD to share HyperDocs with our teachers. I knew they would find them exciting, and I wasn’t wrong.

 

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My very own copy!

 

To prepare myself, I bought my own copy of The HyperDoc Handbook written by the three ladies I mentioned above. I was very excited when it arrived and I had reason to be. What a well-written, clearly explained, hands-on book it is. There is no way you can go wrong if you follow the steps in the book. There is solid pedagogy behind the concept of HyperDocs.

HyperDocs are NOT worksheets. They do not replace worksheets. Although they might sometimes look like worksheets, they demand far more from both the teacher and the student (if correctly constructed).

A HyperDoc is:

  • a launch pad or platform for engaging teaching and learning – almost like a stepping stone to deeper learning.
  • “A great interactive and engaging platform that should be used to launch a learning rocket!” – I loved this quote from one of my colleagues made after our first HyperDocs session. I think he summed it up beautifully.

HyperDocs should contain or reflect:

  • sound pedagogy.
  • a learning cycle – either the HyperDocs Learning Cycle or another of your choice.
  • the 4 Cs of 21st Century Learning – communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity.
  • scaffolded learning in cleverly designed tasks – both on paper and including the use of various tech tools. Not everything has to be done on an iPad!
  • interactive opportunities for the students, including videos, texts, links and other resources.
  • possible differentiation for students to work at their own pace.
  • vibrant, attractive appeal for students – no more boring worksheets! The possibilities are endless.
  • adaptability to the needs of both the teachers and the students.
  • a greater understanding of the SAMR model and encourages moving through the different levels to Redefinition.

After the very first session in which I introduced our teachers to HyperDocs, I could see that I had offered them something that really sparked their interest, and that evening, even though I had not yet completed the HyperDoc training with the staff, I already had the first one shared with me by one of the teachers! That has never happened before. Since then we have completed the HyperDocs training and a number of the other teachers have also created and shared their home-grown HyperDocs with me. Are they perfect? No, they aren’t, but they are certainly on the right track and with guidance they will get there. Their lessons will evolve, problems will be ironed out and their teaching and learning will change in ways we never imagined. The important point to note is that the students enjoyed the new approach and enjoyed participating and completing the tasks set by the teachers. Should all lessons now be presented in HyperDoc format? No, I don’t think so. They lend themselves to a project-based learning approach and so themes and concepts that require deeper learning that can be spread over a longer period of time are most suited to this approach. Having said that though, there is no harm in creating a short, punchy, to-the-point HyperDoc to cover a single topic or smaller section of work.

The authors of the HyperDoc Handbook have created a website full of resources, examples, tips and advice for creating HyperDocs. I urge you to go and take a look, but beware – it’s like jumping down a rabbit hole! You won’t be sorry though.

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A very simple example of a HyperDoc about HyperDocs.

 

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An iPad Photography Competition with Google

Recently we ran an iPad Photography Competition at our school for the first time. It was a great success and the students took the most amazing photographs. We certainly have some budding photographers! (See the winning photos below). It also showed us what an iPad camera is capable of.

This is how we went about creating the competition and communicating with the students using the Google tools available to us as GAFE school:

  • Set up an iPad Photography Competition Google Classroom.
  • Create a QR-code for the Class Code to join the Google Classroom if they wish to enter the competition.
  • Design a poster to advertise the competition, showing the QR-code and the competition closing date.
  • Decide on the categories and number of entries allowed per category (we decided upon one entry in a maximum of three categories). We had a panel of four teachers working on this competition, so it was a collaborative decision. Share this to the Google Classroom in a view-only Google Doc for the entrants to access.
  • Create a Google Slides entry template, upload it to the Google Classroom and set it to download one copy per student. By creating a template with a place to insert the photograph and a prepared text box for the student’s name, class, category and photo title, it saved us a lot of time at the end when we saved the presentation as a PDF for judging, and all the important information was already on each slide.
  • Draw up a How To Enter document with clear guidelines and upload it to the Google Classroom.
  • Find sponsors for the prizes. This year Digicape was very generous in sponsoring six R1000.00 gift vouchers – one for each of the category winners! The school sponsored the runners-up prizes with six iTunes vouchers.
  • Launch the competition in style! We are fortunate to have a student teacher at our school who is a very keen photographer. He gave a presentation on how to take photographs, what to look for, what to avoid and other tips and hints, so the students were well prepared. It was clear to see which students had taken his advice with their photographs – and who had not! He also shared some of his own beautiful photographs with the students. The presentation created and air of excitement and as soon as the advertising posters went up, we had scores of students signing up to the Google Classroom.

After the competition closed, we were able to save the individual entry slides into one big Google Slides presentation and then we exported it as a PDF (to prevent any accidental loss of information or images) for judging. It was then easy to scroll through the whole presentation and see each image displayed full screen via a projector. The judging, done by five judges, including one of our Grade 11 Visual Arts students, took many hours and some tough decisions, but finally six winners, six runners-up and a number of highly commended photos were decided upon.

Why Google Classroom?

  • It is available to all our students and they are very familiar with how it works, as it is widely used by staff in our school.
  • You can create an assignment when sharing the Google Slides entry template and set a due date for the competition closing date.
  • All supporting information (categories, how to enter etc.) can be shared in one space, so that the students can easily find all the information they need. They then require no other teacher input (such as class teachers), as they can ask questions publicly or privately within the Google Classroom.
  • All the entries are submitted in one place, in the same format.
  • Any late submissions are marked as late, so you will know who missed the deadline.
  • If there are any additional announcements, they can be posted in the Classroom and each enrolled student will receive an email update.

Was is a success?

You judge for yourself ! Here are the top entries, including the winners and runners-up (click on the image):

winners

 

Thank you very much to Digicape for the fantastic prize sponsorship and well done and congratulations to the winners! This competition will definitely be repeated in 2017. Watch this space!