Friday, 17 October 2014

Using Google+ to support students undertaking a research project, by Claire Stapleton

A Google plus community was set up for one year group who were about to embark on their research project journey. In Physiotherapy this starts in semester two of their second year where they are introduced to a selection of research titles. Students have a couple of weeks to view the titles and submit their preferences (we ask for the top three preferred titles, their preferred topic area and their preferred study design). The google plus community was set up to support students through this decision making process. They could ask any questions to aid their selection. All questions about title selection had to go through the google plus community discussion board in order to receive a response, which allowed all students to benefit from the answer and spark further queries. The benefit for the module leader was that there was no repetitive emails to respond to and sometimes students answered the questions between themselves. The advantages of using this forum instead of the KLE's discussion board was the ease of use on smart phones and tablets. At the time of releasing the titles to the students, they were on clinical placements sometimes with little access to internet connected PC's. You can also change the settings so you receive a notification when a comment or question has been posted. This feature allowed the module leader to respond to each query in a timely fashion. The discussion board also allows the members as well as the moderators to post information, files and video clips. The list of titles, a google form to submit their preferences and a screencast to explain how to use the google form were all posted on the google plus community page. The moderator can use a feature to create events which was employed to remind the students when they should be submitting work to their supervisor for formative feedback and for submission deadlines. Following the selection process the google community was of continued use when the students started to prepare their research proposals for submission, many queries were answered and students also posted interesting and useful information they had found to share with the rest of the cohort. The module leader as the moderator of the group has the capacity to remove anything deemed inappropriate however this issue did not arise. The google plus community for this cohort will continue to run into their third year and support them through the research project module. The use of this method of communication within the module was deemed a success with high levels of student engagement. This judgement was echoed by students who rated the following items on the module evaluation report for that year as 4.6 out of a possible 5, 'staff created an environment to ask questions and seek help' and 'the team were helpful dealing with queries'). A second google community will be created for the next cohort who embark on their research project journey.

Creative Commons License
Using a Google+ community to support students undertaking a research project by Claire Stapleton from Keele University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at