Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Co-create Learning with Google Slides

(Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes)

Shift the centre of learning from the teacher to the students with this collaborative learning pedagogy. Using this strategy develops 21st century skills of critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication. With the focus shifted to the students doing, this frees the teacher up to provide more assistance to students that need it.

How does it work?

This pedagogy takes co-creation into the digital age. A teacher prepares a Google Slides where each slide contains something different to research. The kind of things may be :

  • object/event to describe

  • concept to explain

  • word to define

I often will make an exemplar slide, so students understand the requirements of the task quickly. Allocate time to research (5-20 minutes dependent on the task) and 60 seconds to present.

Share the presentation with the class. If you have Google Workspace for Education at your school you need to share the presentation with the students’ Google Accounts. They will then be able to find the presentation in their Google Drive. If you don’t have Google Workspace you need to make the presentation editable by anyone and share the presentation link with the class via email or LMS. I think the easiest way to share links is by using a URL shortener, tinyURL is my new favourite, and it is free.

There is the potential for students to vandalise the presentation, they can delete slides, graffiti each others’ slides, change the background of all the slides, or just cause general mayhem. The most important step is to be explicit, tell the students they must:

  • work on their slide only

  • not edit anyone else’s slide

  • not change the background of the presentation (they can change their own background only)

I point out that if students behave poorly the collaborative presentation can be cancelled altogether. In my experience students are usually very well behaved, I have only ever had two classes that have been a bit tricky but I have always got there in the end.

An Exemplar

Students can turn

into this:

Positives of using this Pedagogy

Students can be terrified of public speaking and through multiple small presentation opportunities,  (presenting for no more than a minute) and presenting with a classmate, they can gradually overcome their anxiety. This will help them in the future in stressful situations such as job interviews and meetings.

Having choice means that students can select something that they are interested in. I always point out that you need to be quick to place your name on the slide you want - snooze you lose.

I can remember the bad old days of students presenting with Powerpoint, the amount of time wasted coming up to your computer, fumbling around with a usb, navigating to their presentation, waiting for it to load. At least a minute of class time for each presenter - you don’t need to be a mathematical genius to figure out that ten presentations means ten minutes lost, 25 presentations wastes 25 minutes or instruction time!

The benefits of using Google Slides are many

  • no time lost loading their presentation

  • students can work together on a slide

  • students can see other students slides and get ideas from them

  • teachers can monitor student work to provide feedback

The first time I did it I called it 60 Second Science, but this would work in geography, maths, english, history, HPE - any subject! I have used this student-focused pedagogy with year 8 to year 12 students, but I can see students in Primary also enjoying this pedagogy.

There is a bit of preparation involved to make the template, but using version history you can revert back to the original presentation and can be used year after year. 

Some of the collaborative presentations I have used

Presentation Title


Some of the slides…

Researching Simple Machines

Find a slide… put your name on it. (1-2 slides.. you can make only one more)

1-2 students per slide

15-20 minutes to research and make your slide

60 seconds to present.

Archimedes screw, levers in the body, mousetrap, crossbow, mechanical jack, pneumatic jack, windlass, cam wheel, cheater bar, chisel, etc

Nerves and Hormones - What can go wrong?

SLIDE ONE How does your disorder affect the body? How is it diagnosed? What are the causes?

SLIDE TWO How can we innovate with biochemistry by creating drugs to mend, treat this disorder/disease?

Hashimoto’s disease, Addison’s disease, Grave’s disease,

Dwarfism, Acromegaly, Turner’s syndrome, Gestational diabetes, Kinfelters, Goitre, Androgen insensitivity, Nervous disease/disorder, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease,

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis,

Myasthenia gravis, Spinal Cord injury, Sciatica, Epilepsy, Depression, ADHD

Collaborative learning with google slides is a Student-centred Pedagogy, that Builds critical thinking, creativity, collaboration  and communication.

What digital tools do you use for collaboration?

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