Thursday, March 15, 2012

Discussion boards revamped, App #20--Google Moderator

Google Moderator:

(Google Moderator is part of the Google Apps for Education suite. Therefore, the link is actually private to my school district. Every Moderator page can only be accessed through direct links--that can be embedded--so you need a Google Apps for Education account to get started. More the reason to get started with Google Apps for Edu!)

Synopsis: This app is available as an additional service for Google Apps for Education users. Since it is an additional service, the domain admin must add the app (be sure your settings are for the "next generation" and not the "current" version). Once the service has been added, Moderator will receive its own direct URL. This is the only way of accessing it (users cannot find it from their menu). To save confusion, it is best to embed this link or put a direct link on the school Webpage. The domain admin sets the privacy settings. However, all users can create a "Series" (the discussion platform) and "topics" (the topics of discussion) and "questions" (the questions/suggestions/events for each topic/meeting).

To begin, the discussion creator must access the direct link to the Moderator page. From there, you can see the steps in this training video:

When you create a series, you have the option of setting it for meetings or for topics. I chose the topic option in the video. However, you may choose the meeting option too. Again, flags can be created by anyone, but only the creator can choose to remove a question that has been flagged. Using presentation view, the instructor can present questions in more of a presentation format as opposed to a discussion board format. The questions appear randomly in presentation view. Be sure to adjust the additional settings when you first create a series (decide who can submit questions, if they can post anonymously, submit videos, etc.) And, that's it!

Integration: The ways to integrate Moderator continue to increase. Recently, I held an eLearning training via Moderator. I created a series for the training. Then, I created topics (and pasted links to the training documents) for each of the training categories. Finally, attendees were able to access the series, review the training material in each topic, and create questions for each topic. Other learners could rank the questions so I knew which were of most concern. From those, I was able to answer the questions and leave my answers visible for others to see. If I chose to, I could have allowed other attendees to post answers to the questions as well. And, all attendees were able to create questions anonymously if they wanted. When the training concluded, I exported the series to a CSV file to review it before further trainings. With the CSV file, I was able to open it in Excel and begin to filter results. From there, the possibilities grew. However, there are other uses. During my district's technology committee meeting, I used moderator as a discussion board to continue the discussion beyond the one hour meeting slot. I posted topics that we had touched upon and allowed the members to continue submitting questions (within a question, you can also insert a link to any URL). Some pasted URLs of articles within their questions. And, members ranked the questions so I was able to decide which topics were of the most importance. This is great to use before an exam as a form of review. It also can be used as an anticipatory guide before a unit. The options are nearly endless. So, give it a try and put Google Apps for Education into use!

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