Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day 21 -- Google Apps For Education

Our guest blogger today is Chris Atkinson. Chris is an assistant principal at College Wood Elementary in Carmel Clay Schools. Chris is a Google Certified Teacher, HECC Board member, avid ed. tech blogger, tweeter, and podcaster. You can find him on Twitter @ChrisLAtkinson, and blogging/podcasting at www.EdReach.us and at www.ChrisLAtkinson.com.

Want to engage students? Want to go paperless? Want to create a collaborative culture for your staff and students? Google Apps is a set of free tools that will allow you to create, communicate, and collaborate at a whole new level!

What is Google Apps For Education?

Google Apps for Education is a free, and advertisement free, set of tools that includes a core suite of tools and access to 60+ other Google services.   The core suite of tools offered to all levels of education are: Google Docs, Gmail, Google Sites, Google Calendar, and Google Video.  Having a dedicated Apps For Ed domain/account allows a district to control tools and manage users.  

I could share pages upon pages of examples and information on Google Apps for Education (GAFE), but in the interest of brevity I'd like to highlight two of my favorite tools within the GAFE suite: Google Docs and Google Sites.  

Google Docs:
Google Docs is a cloud-based document creator that has the power of simultaneous collaboration.  You can create and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, drawings, and forms.  This video, though a year old, gives a great overview of the features of google docs.

There is now a new look for docs:

The next video highlights the ability for simultaneous collaboration as well as commenting:

Think of all the possibilities: paper-free classrooms, e-portfolios, good-bye flash drives, district data warehouses, collaborative writing, collaborative lesson plans, presentations anywhere and everywhere, professional development forms, parent surveys... the possibilities are endless!

Google Sites:
Remember the days when everyone spent hours coding HTML, or trying to navigate the waters of programs like Frontpage?  I'm thankful those days are over.  I'm also thankful that Google Sites makes website creation so simple that even a 4th grader can create a website in less than a minute! (I've seen 4th graders do this!)

Need I say more? E-portfolios, professional development, class pages, student projects, the list goes on an on!

So what are you waiting for, why not join the revolution?  Become a part of the 12+ million GAFE users around the world! Transform your learning, teaching, leadership, and productivity; all for free!  Check out the following links, and make sure to connect to the Great Lakes Regional GAFE user group here: Great Lakes GAFE User Group.

Other Relevant Links and Resources:

The Challenge

1.  If you have never tried Google Docs start with your own public account docs.google.com
2.  Like using Google Docs?  Can you see the power in using with your class?  Talk to your school leadership and see if you have Google Apps For Ed in your district. If not work with your tech team to get started at https://www.google.com/a/cpanel/education/new.
3.  Join the Great Lakes GAFE user group:  Great Lakes GAFE User Group

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