A video overview of Google Apps for Education
A preview of Google Classroom
Google Apps in action in Mr. Engstrom's classroom
Google Apps in the iPad Classroom
When presenting the launch of our 1:1 iPad program to parents, one of the questions that often comes up is, “How will students use Microsoft Office on the iPad?”
This question brings us to a key misunderstanding when rolling out 1:1 technology-enhanced curriculum initiatives which is – substitution vs redefinition. Mobile devices in the classroom have allowed educators to shift the paradigm of learning towards a more student-centered, inquiry based learning environment. Bringing technology into the learning environment is an important step, but before we talk about how we are bringing technology in we must engage in a conversation about why. When as a learning community we have a shared vision for 21st century learning and we understand why this is important for today’s generation then automatically we have a context for which other questions can be understood and answered.
Often times when deciding what tools to use in the classroom there is often a sense of loyalty to one device over another, or to one company over another. We are now in our third year of our technology-enhanced curriculum initiative at Fairmont Private Schools and in working with students I’ve come to realize there is a key 21st century skill that is often overlooked yet absolutely essential – cross platform fluency.
Too often in today’s world, devices and programs are pitted as enemies against each other. However the beauty of the technology available to us today is that we no longer have to conform to a one size fits all approach, rather we must embrace our roles as consumers in a capitalist society by asking, “What do I want to accomplish and what device/tool will help me get there?”
It is these consumer choices that drive healthy competition amongst companies like Apple and Google to constantly bring us the very best. Often times the answer is not a single device that will help you achieve all your goals, and it is here that instead of becoming frustrated one must learn to extract the power of different tools to achieve their goals. One must be fluent across all platforms.
A great example of this is using Google Apps in the iPad Classroom. Google Apps have come a long way in a very short period of time. In fact it’s hard to believe Google Drive was launched just two years ago! A few weeks ago Google divided the Drive app into a suite of apps – Docs, Sheets and Slides (coming soon). I won’t lie, I was always envious of teachers with Chromebooks who were able to collaborate in real time with their students on documents. The excitement of working together with students vs. handing them feedback after the fact is a game changer. With the wonderful changes and exciting new releases it looks like iPad classrooms will be able to have the best of both worlds. iPads for creativity, Google for productivity. There are so many benefits to using Google Apps in the classroom let’s take a look at some of the most popular uses.
Workflow – Google Classroom
In a 1:1 learning environment it doesn’t take long before you realize you need to come up with an effective workflow solution, otherwise you’ll soon find yourself with a cluttered inbox with no clue where to begin sorting through from. It is here students can share folders in Google Drive with their teachers. There are many ways to do this, again you have to ask yourself what your requirements are for your classroom and organize your workflow accordingly. Catlin Tucker, an English teacher in Southern California, shares five ways you can organize your classroom workflow using Google Docs.
If reading the five creative workflow solutions has you excited, you’ll be happy to know it gets better. This fall Google plan to release Classroom. Instead of replacing what already exists, Classroom promises to flawless integrate all of your favorite Google tools such as Drive, Gmail and Calendar into one seamless workflow solution. For a sneak peek at what Google classroom has to offer check out this great article from the Student Help Desk at Burlington High School.
Google Docs - Collaborative Writing
Sharon J. Washington, executive director of the National Writing Project, said:
“Today’s young people are using a range of digital tools to compose and create in new and exciting ways. It is a game-changing moment for teachers of writing. The very notion of what it means to write is shifting, and educators are faced with adapting their teaching practices to integrate new technologies while redefining writing and learning for the 21st century.”
Using Google Docs for collaborative writing has truly redefined our classroom. I absolutely love the creative power of the iPad, however I believe that the process leading up to the final product is where the real magic happens. I am always looking for great tools that allow me to redefine the storyboarding process. Using Google docs I can work on the process with all students in the moment. It’s just as exciting for them as it is for me and I can see the impact it has when I receive their final products. Google Docs has also allowed my students to become great collaborators. Whereas before I used to assign students roles, I now see them taking the initiative to share files and designate roles to members in the group – a proud moment for any teacher as they observe their students taking charge of their learning. Here is a great video that was tweeted by EdTechTeacher on Twitter earlier this week that gives us an inside look into the classroom of Mark Engstrom from Sao Paulo – a great example of Google Apps being used in the classroom.
Google forms is probably the most widely used feature from Google Sheets. Surveys, evaluations, feedback, assessments and the list goes on and on for ways in which it is used in the classroom. The ease in which data can be collected, analyzed and shared is phenomenal. Here is a great list of the top ten ways you can use Google Forms in the classroom from Oxford University Press. No conversation on Google Forms is complete without mentioning Alice Keeler and her famous “Sexy Spreadsheets.” You can visit her blog for a never ending list of ideas about how to use spreadsheets in the classroom.
As your students move to demonstrating their knowledge in a variety of creative ways you may find yourself asking, “How can I share their work with others?” There are many ways to utilize Google Sites in the classroom, I’m going to highlight one of my favorite ways – Digital Portfolios. We often hear about the importance of an authentic audience for our students. Today they have a platform upon which they can share their work with people across the globe. Furthermore digital portfolios allow students to curate the content they have created while reflecting upon their experiences throughout the year. I first learned about using Google Sites as a tool for creating digital portfolios in a session led by Holly Clark at the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit in San Diego. Jennifer Carey wrote a great overview of Holly’s seminar and you can read about it here to learn more about how you can use Google sites to create digital portfolios with your students.
Coming soon to the suite of Google apps on the iPad we can expect the ability to create and edit presentations and I’m sure many more surprises.
We’re excited about what Google has in store for us and using Google Apps in the iPad classroom is one way in which we can model and teach our students cross platform fluency – a key skill in today’s ever changing digital world.