Google Apps for Education

Today’s post focuses on a tool that I’m piloting for my school, Google Apps for Education. 

As I integrated more and more technology into my Language Arts instruction, I found that there were still a significant amount of students without e-mail addresses, which are required to register for most Web 2.0 applications.

I was also using Edmodo in lieu of a classroom Web site, but found that it was very one-sided.  In other words, students could not use Edmodo for more than downloading assignments or posting questions, and I wanted more of a collaborative platform. 

And then there was the issue of organization.  It was so difficult for students to work on a document both at home and at school.  It was either, “I lost my flash drive,” “I left my flash drive at home/school,” or, my favorite, “I sent myself an e-mail but never received it.”  Not to mention the amount of copies of a document created when e-mailing it as an attachment.  Students could never seem to locate the most current revision of a document.

After attending the ISLMA conference in October, and spending an entire day with Doug Johnson exploring cloud computing, I realized that Google Apps for Education could be the solution to all of these problems. 

Students can collaborate in real-time on documents that are stored in the cloud, to be accessed from anywhere there is internet access.  No lost documents, no confusion, and it encourages the 21st Century learning skills of collaboration and use of technology.

In addition, I was able to build a Google Site to host the Problem-Based Learning activities I am having the students participate in for research.  Because of its interactive features, students can use the site to post discussion threads with their Google Groups, blog their progress/reflections, manage their time with online calendars and “to-do” lists, and update project resource lists.

When I am a librarian in a school, I will definitely be an advocate for using this program, as it is FREE and would save the district thousands of dollars in licensing fees necessary to have software like Microsoft Office. That money will be better spent on books or portable devices.  It is also a great platform in which students can demonstrate 21st Century skills.  I look forward to sharing this tool with colleagues.