The Use of Google Apps to Support Teaching and Learning: A UAE Case Study

The Use of Google Apps to Support Teaching and Learning: A UAE Case Study

Fawzi Fayez Ishtaiwa-Dweikat (Zayed University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates) and Ibtehal M. Aburezeq (Al Ain University of Science and Technology, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates)
DOI: 10.4018/IJWLTT.2016100101
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Abstract

This study was designed to examine pre-service teachers' proficiency, use, and their perceptions of the benefits and barriers to the use of Google Apps to support their teaching and learning practices. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used. The findings showed that almost two-thirds (63%) of participants were advanced or expert users of Google Apps whereas almost one-fourth (24%) reported that they had intermediate experience and 13% reported possessing poor experience. It was found also that participants used Google Apps the most for communication purposes, backing up and sharing data, and accessing teaching materials. The findings also revealed that participants perceived Google Apps as a valuable tool to improve teaching and learning. However, their use of Google Apps was hindered by several barriers, such as deficiency of access to reliable technology, increasing workload, lack of collaboration skills, cheating and plagiarism, and lack of integration skills.
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Literature Review

Google Apps for Education

Google Apps for Education is a set of web-based tools that are always on and running in a web browser, without buying or installing software. By using an email address as a login to the service, users can easily access different types of tools and services from any computer with an Internet connection (Educause, 2008). For instance, Gmail which is entirely compatible with POP and IMAP enables teachers and students to communicate via email and provide each user with 7GB of storage. Google Hangouts is a communication platform which includes instant messaging, video chat, SMS, and VOIP features. The third communication tool is Google Calendar which is a time-management web tool to share schedule instantly that puts everyone on campus “on the same page” (Mansour, 2013).

Google Drive is an additional service that provides users with unlimited space to create Google Docs including text files, spreadsheets, presentations, and forms. It is a real-time collaboration tool that allows teachers and students to work on the same document from remote locations, and automatically save every change made. The Drive also gives 5GB of additional storage. The Group App is another service that enables students to create groups and work in teams. Additionally, Google Sites offers teachers an easy tool for making and managing educational Sites without having knowledge of HTML or any other programming language (Google, 2015; Mansour, 2013). Furthermore, teachers can utilize a wide range of extra services, e.g., Google Plus, Blogger, YouTube, and Translate. Not only does Google provide these apps at no cost, but also allows educational institutions to use their own domain name with the service. Google also allows institutions to customize the Google Apps interface to mirror and meet their branding objectives (Educause, 2008).

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