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Oklahoma State University

New classroom writing tool through Google

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Dr. Kalianne Neumann

OSU professor codes tool published by Google to enhance student writing and language learning

As classrooms increasingly rely on technology, one OSU professor’s innovation is changing the way students use Google technologies.

Dr. Kalianne Neumann, OSU assistant professor of educational technology, learned about an instructional strategy for teaching English sentence structure to Deaf students, where students color coded the parts of speech. Although many classrooms have adopted Google technologies, there was not a Google tool to easily color code online.

Neumann developed Parts of Speech, a free Google Docs add-on allowing users to color code the parts of speech while also tallying the occurrences of each part of speech labeled by the user. The program, which Neumann personally coded, is now available worldwide.

“Instead of going into the [document’s] toolbar and choosing separate colors each time, [Parts of Speech] automatically assigns a color for each part of speech,” Neumann said. “Students select which part of speech the word belongs to, and the export occurrences button generates a summary report at the end.”

Parts of Speech has also been embraced by English as a second language learners and elementary students. Neumann said her goal has always been accessibility, and she is seeking classroom teachers’ feedback to improve the tool and uncover additional uses of the technology.

“As a former classroom teacher, I know you don’t get paid a lot. I definitely wanted these tools to be free and available in a way teachers and students could actually use them. I also wanted these tools to serve a purpose for both teaching and learning. Because of this, the tools I’ve developed require manual input from the user and do not automatically do the work for users.”

Neumann is using her innovations to prepare the next generation of classroom teachers as she teaches the undergraduate educational technology course for pre-service teachers. With approximately 90 percent of OSU student teachers placed in Google school districts for observations and/or student teaching, she deliberately built Parts of Speech on the Google platform to make it accessible to student teachers.

Yet, as exciting as new technology can be, Neumann says it should always compliment sound teaching.

“I always remind my educational technology students to start with learning objectives, not just the tool they want to integrate. Once they have their learning objectives, they can decide if technology will engage learning, extend learning, enhance learning, and/or make the learning more efficient in some way.” 

For more information on using Parts of Speech in the classroom, contact Dr. Neumann at kalianne.neumann@okstate.edu. Additionally, Neumann’s first Google Docs add-on (Revision Assistant, too), which was designed and developed during her doctoral studies at the University of Georgia, assists students with peer review and internalizing the editing process; it is also available on the G Suite Marketplace.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brittany Bowman | 405-744-9347 | brittany.bowman@okstate.edu

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