... Collaborating with the Google Apps Suite
What is cloud computing? What is a prosumer?
One of the most extensive free suite of tools for the classroom that promotes communication, collaboration and creativity is Google Apps. SBISD became a "Google Apps District" in June 2010. Through Google Apps Education Edition, Spring Branch is able to offer teachers and students email, online documents, spreadsheets, forms, calendar, web sites and more with 24/7 access anywhere through an Internet connection. It is as easy as logging in with your network credentials! You are actually using one of the tools Blogger as your 11 Tools blog!
All that being said, it is important to note that a Google Apps account is different from a Google account. Think of it as a specialized Goolge Account! The district has the ability to control the tools available and is able to filter the content for CIPA compliance.
To login to Goolge Apps in SBISD, you must be a district staff member or a student. Access is through links on the SBISD Educational Technology page, the Library Resources page, or the Intranet Start page for teachers only where you actually login through the SB Portal, not through Google. All students in SBISD - Pre-K through 12th grade - are now provided with an email account for school business.Pre-K through 5 are able to send and receive emails to SBISD teachers and other elementary students in SBISD. Secondary students can email worldwide!
Occasionally a parent might request that the student not have access to email. But not having access to email does NOT keep a student from being able to use all of the other tools in the Google Apps suite. Students can still create and share documents, presentations, websites and more with peers and teachers. This video shows how to log in to your SBISD Google Apps account.
Creating and sharing documents in Google Docs is a different mindset than the way we have shared documents in the past. No longer are you going to send a document as an attachment in a email! The Common Craft video will quickly explain the value of this new way of working!
Students and teachers need not worry about Mac - PC software conflicts, where the document was saved, access to SAN folders or remembering to download documents to flash drives. Everything is stored on servers that are access through any browser. Students can begin assignments in class, work on them in the library or in another classroom, and complete them at home. Teachers no longer need to print out reams of papers to mark-up each draft for revisions and editing. Google Docs, included in the Google Apps suite, supports online interaction - both synchronous and asynchronous - through commenting and real-time editing. Comprehensive revision history allows teachers and students to see the evolution of a project/paper from start to finish, as well as the contributions of each team member.
One of the coolest tools in Google Docs is the Form tool. Make professional looking forms to collect data/information via the web or email in minutes, with this easy to use tool! Forms supports a variety of question types - multiple choice, short answer, scale and more using a very user-friendly interface.. Teachers and students can quickly create forms to collect student information, project progress, reflections on readings, pre-tests, quizzes, surveys - the list is endless. Here's a quick look!
We have just touched the tip of the iceberg of Google Apps here! Google Sites, Google Reader, and Blogger (just to name a few) are all part of Google Apps now and are great ways to work collaboratively in classrooms. Please take some time to explore the options available to you and your students. For specific short tutorials on just about every tool in the suite, log into Atomic Learning. Here is a webpage with links to the tutorials in Atomic Learning!
If all of this information about Google Docs is old news to you, we encourage you to expand your toolbox and send some time with some of the other services that are now available in Google Apps!
For your Tool #4 post in your blog:
1. Create at least one document in Google Docs and share it with a few others on your campus or within your department. It could a team member, a department colleague, or another teacher with whom you plan a collaboration. Ask that person to comment or chat and real-time edit the document with you.
2. Create one form in Google Docs and send it via email to at least two other people and ask them to respond.
3. Briefly discuss how you can use the tools in Google Apps with your team or department. How can you incorporate Google Apps as a tool in your classroom? Which tools are you excited about using with students?
Moving On... Tool #5: Producing with Web 2.0 Tools