Friday, 13 June 2014

Why Google

I was lucky enough to be able to present at a GAFE summit in April on using google apps. To be honest and fair I knew about google apps but not really for education. Sure I used youtube for videos, I even used it to flip my classroom but was I fully using all of the capabilities; not even close.

Before the conference, this is what I knew:

1) I owned a gmail account and used docs, forms and blogger but sparingly. 

2) YouTube was for the occasional posting of videos and searching for some really cool minds-on activities.

After the summit I was inspired by all of the amazing things that teachers are doing with it. Two great colleagues are Rolland Chidiac and Scott Monahan, check out their twitter, blogs and google plus accounts. Not only are they amazing people to get to know but amazing ambassadors for google.  I went right away to my principal and said I have to do this. Now you have to know that my board went Microsoft. Microsoft 365 is useful and well known but for me there is more than word. Also, want I like to say now is that what 365 wants to be, google already is.

Since starting this just two months ago this is what I have learned:

1) My kids have easily become proficient in the use of many of the apps. They easily figured out how to create, share and copy any project. Some have started to use slides as a presentation tool and some have explored google draw capabilities. Now I think all would be able too but some just haven't explored the program enough or have an interest in tech. Though more are coming around as we use it.

2) Even though I am pretty tech savvy, I would say that it is really user friendly and easy for anyone to use.  I know the names may seem out there (forms, Gdocs, slides, doctopus, goobrics, etc.) but it is really seamlessly integrated and user friendly.  

3) What I didn't know there was videos, training and great people to help me along the way. This brings me back to the amazing people in my PLN. I have connected with truly amazing and helpful individuals. Not only that google for educators has a great website: and amazing hashtags to follow are #gafe or #gafesummit.

4) It really opens up the classroom for collaboration and practical formative assessment.  For example, I was in an OFIP (in school PD) and I had my kids working on their docs.  While in the session I was able to monitor my students work, comment on their progress and give them feedback in real time.  Another great example is the ability to share work and comment as we go.  Many of my assignments are now on Google Docs.  The students can share them with me at any time and I can comment on them at any time.  Also, when I finally mark them I attach a Goobric (its a rubric) to them and students have a chance to resubmit.  The nice part is the rubric stays with the document and you can attach a brand new one to it.  Not only does it allow you this feedback but these rubrics are kept on file for you in your drive.

5) Great programs and amazing storage.  This is just a nice bonus but you also get 30Gb of storage which is a far cry from the 8 I get with 365.  Google also works with any of our devices, so when I am with the iPads in my literacy centers or on netbooks or chromebooks my students have access to their drive.

6) Reflection and online portfolio:  Now that everything is in the cloud, students will have access to their work for their school career (or for me as long as they are in the school).  When they leave they can create their own space and transfer these docs to that new account.  Now students have a real look at their learning and progress from Kindergarten to whenever they graduate.  Talk about reflection and portfolios.

As you can tell I am really impressed with Google for education.  If you haven't checked it out I encourage you to take a look and try it.