Sunday, August 4, 2013

Google Apps In Schools

Google Apps in schools is a phenomenal resource. I started using this with my students in 2009 as a pilot project for the school. Initially we were only given access to documents, sites, presentations, and spreadsheets. I quickly gravitated toward using the cloud and teaching my students how to create, organize, share, and collaborate through these tools. Now, Google has evolved to a much more powerful and versatile educational tool. My school now has a Google Apps domain where teachers are given access to all Google Apps except for Google Plus. As part of my work with the current technology integrator in my school district, we are collection data to make an argument to turn Google Plus on for teachers and students to start collaborating on a larger scale. Here are the results of two surveys I deployed through my own PLN to obtain data to use as evidence to integrate Google plus. 
  • This survey was used with this course to help gather more specific information related to technology tools in general, and eventually arrived at questions pertaining to the use of social networking. 
It appears as though I have enough data to show that there might be some value in using social media in schools, again my avenue would be to use Google Apps to allow students access to Google Plus. The debate around social media in schools is a large  undertaking, and is better saved for another discussion, however, I do think that Google Plus can provide a great addition to the Google Apps for education. 

Since Google has been continuously evolving, I have been using Google Apps more and more with my students. I no longer have students print out papers, or store any information on our school network. All of their work, for my class, is created with Google Apps, or is linked to Google Apps in some way. I have my students create web sites for digital portfolios. They create documents and use comments to peer-edit, collaborate, obtain feedback, and make group presentations. They have used forms to take mini quizes. The beauty of using forms as a quiz is that you can make them self grading, students gain instantaneous feedback. The simple survey and presentation we used in this course, barely skimmed the surface of the power of Google Apps. 

Once all the teachers are comfortable with the tools, Google Drive could help to streamline teacher meetings. For example, our school is going through the NEASC Accreditation renewal process. We have to generate a great deal of documents to create a report based off specific criteria. I have been slowly convincing more and more groups to collaborate through Google Docs to write reports, instead of sitting together, while one person types, and the rest argue about grammar. I have also been training folks on how to use Google Calendar. Schools have so many functions, events, different schedules for some days, field trips, meetings...etc. Google Calendar is an easy way to share schedules, and follow others. They don't' have to manually share the calendar with you, all you need to do is search for their email, and you can "follow" their schedule. This provides a great deal of ease if you have the need to meet with a special educator, or administrator. You can quickly see their schedule to find a time to meet, without having to ask them.

Google Apps is a valuable tool for education. It is so versatile, and can easily blend into all contents. It provides an simple way for students to collaborate, and an easy way for the teacher to share documents with students, other teachers and parents. 


  1. I have also used many of the different Google apps with my students. I always find it amusing how stressed students get when you show them a new tool or app. I think we assume that they will not have trouble with it because they use technology all day long, but they do not use it for educational or professional reasons. This is exactly why using social networking in schools is so important. We do need to show them how to use this in a professional, responsible manner.

  2. I love the idea of a digital portfolio. I haven't really used Google Docs with my students that much because we had been pressured to use the school website that allows students to have accounts and a "filing cabinet". The problem is, the storage size is very low, and the students have to go through a special set of steps to send their assignments to me. This often results in students saying they have turned in work, yet I never actually receive it. I then have to call them in to sign in and locate the file and help them send the file to me. It can get very frustrating.

    Towards the end of last school year, I was able to convince my principal to let me use Google Docs with my students. She made me send home a letter to the parents asking for their permission to set up a Gmail account for their children. I received all of the permission slips back with little trouble. I am hoping the same will happen this year, so I can benefit from Google Apps all year!