It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. New starts to the year are hectic; particularly so when your school wants to become an Academy and when there is all the financial chaos of the new government. Anyway…
I love Google Apps. Before I became e-Learning Co-ordinator at the school my colleague Daniel Needlestone set up Google Apps for Education for the school with the domain rickyschool.com. This gives every single student access to things such as:
- Google Mail (with their firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Google Calendar
- Google Docs
I say these specific examples because this is what I’ve currently got set up for our school. There are other features to Google Apps such as Sites and Google Wave that we don’t use. We have it integrated into our Moodle VLE, Rickypedia.
I, and indeed the school, haven’t rolled this out for students in a school-wide sense. Some ICT teachers use them very well with their specific students, but there isn’t much awareness of its existence amongst other students despite it being available to everyone. At this current moment, this is fine, for now; I’ve got plenty to be getting on with with improving staff and student usage of our VLE in the first place!
Anyway, why do I love Google Apps?
Technically, I love Google Docs. I’ve not used it enough, but it has such potential in every subject. If you don’t already know, Google Docs allows you and your students to create documents online, which are then stored online. You can create the following:
- Word processing documents
and you can organise them into folders and suchlike. The massive advantage, for education, is that all of these files can be made accessible to your students (or, if you like, anyone) simply by clicking Share and editing the permissions. Another great thing is that students can collaboratively edit documents at the same time; a lovely thing to have whilst using it in the classroom.
Some Simple Examples
One example from a while back was a homework activity that I set. The students had to add a slide to a Google Presentation that I’d started with a letter to J J Thomson explaining why his Plum Pudding model was inadequate compared to Rutherford’s model of the atom. The information for the task was outlined on the initial slide and students simply created a new slide and added this on. You can find the example here.
Another example from…yesterday, was from during a lesson. With my Year 13s, I thought it’d be a fun idea to do 20 minutes of research and summarise this into a table on a Google Document. The students were remarkably engaged when researching and I found that they were keen to find as much (useful) information as possible. Some thought it’d be fun to make some of the text multicoloured, and some failed to edit the information…but there was limited time for the task; it was used to enrich our final discussion for which it was very effective. Please take a look here.
A senior member of staff at another local school is currently doing a school-wide survey into Teaching and Learning at our school and was contemplating how long it would take him to collect in all of the paper responses. He’d then have to collate all of the results together in some long winded fashion. I told him about Google Docs and he quickly set himself up a Google account and created a Form on Google Docs. The forms are amazing…it means that he could have 1500 students fill in the survey and all of the results are collated onto a Spreadsheet within his Google Docs account. This obviously saved a monumental length of time, but also allows him to calculate averages from columns on the Spreadsheet and to easily identify patterns in the results from the survey.
Google Apps really can be used in so many different ways to enrich student learning (and to save time!) There’s so much scope as to how it can be used and it has applications throughout all subject areas; I’d thoroughly recommend use of it.