Friday, March 16, 2012

Your Google Apps Questions!

On March 9, 2012, I presented a 60 minute workshop at the 2012 MACUL conference. The title of my workshop was "Succeeding in the Cloud: Using Google Apps with Students." Whenever I lead a workshop, I always ask the attendees to complete a short survey. The survey includes a place where they can ask questions which I try to answer during my presentation. The questions below are the ones that I wasn't able to address in the time that I had available.

My teachers still prefer ms office suite over google docs ... Any tips to help them "see the light"
  • I recommend taking a survey of teachers to see how they are using "traditional" tools like MS Office. Once you know how they are using these tools you can show them how they can do the same things using Google Apps and then demonstrate the new, cool things they can begin doing as well. 
How to make learning interactive with students. As of now Google docs have been a staff to staff interaction only.
  • The collaborative features of Google Docs makes old, boring activities like writing a paper much more interactive and engaging. Now student can peer edit and collaborate in real-time. 
  • Here's my blog post on "collaborative story writing in Google docs.
How do you become Google Certified Teacher?
  • The Google Teacher Academy is invitation only, based on applications that are submitted by educators. Each GTA is comprised of 50 educators. There are typically two GTAs per year, one in the winter and one in the summer. 
  • Watch the official GTA website for announcements and information on the application process. 
  • Here is my reflection post on my experience at the 2009 Google Teacher Academy in Boulder, Colorado. 
How do I organize google docs so they aren't just random lists of items?
  • Don't even try! Instead of sorting through documents by size, date, name, etc, just search for the document using the search box. New Docs users get nervous by the "cluttered" nature of the Docs dashboard. Don't worry, just search! 
Linking Google Apps with Moodle
  • MoodleRooms has a pretty slick Google Apps/Moodle integration. It provides SSO between the services, syncs your Google and Moodle accounts, and allows you to add a Google Apps "block" that connects with Gmail, Docs, and Calendar. When a student is submitting a file through a Moodle "drop box" they also have the option of selecting a file from their Google Docs Account. 
What are some classroom uses of google calendar?
  • The primary purpose of a calendar is to organize event information. A great way to use Gcal is to create a "homework calendar." One little know feature in Gcal is the ability to attach a Google Doc to a calendar entry. This means that you can actually attach the worksheet or project guidelines for the homework item in the calendar. Students can view, download, or copy the document into their docs account. 
  • Here's a video that show you how to attach documents to a calendar entry. 
How should I use Google Apps with my students when access is so limited in our school-- we share a room full of PCs one day per week?"
  • This is going to be a challenge. As a fully web-based platform, web-enabled computer access is key. Many Google products can be used on handheld devices, although you will loose some of the higher end features that you have access to on a more powerful machine. 
  • Students can access their docs accounts at home. This is a way that you can extend the learning outside of the classroom. 
Can we set it up as classrooms without district OK?
  • While I have heard of teachers setting up their own personal Google Apps domain, I would discourage this as it really requires a partnership between the instructional staff and the IT department to get the most out of Google Apps. If you run an "unsanctioned" Apps domain and you have a filtering issue, how would you get this resolved?
How do you keep your staff updated with the latest GA features and provide ongoing PD?

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