During the last academic year, we’ve been accelerating our use of collaborative working at Claires Court, using those young pioneers at Ridgeway and College to test Google.docs big time. Here’s Year 3 at work, writing about films they like and World book day (just beneath the Vikings – also a co-ed experience!) – http://goo.gl/t8aIF
. Given the 2 mile gap between sites, using shared documents like this is an obvious one to engender the collaborative juices.I’ve been using Google.docs for a host of tasks, for example coordinating the updating of ‘homework’ defaulting, managing entries for the ISA London West athletics tournament and sharing results, certificates and national team selection, and managing my personal calendar, to name but three really quite complex activities. But don’t just hear it from me – have a read of the reports and watch the short video on this link, and see what others think – http://goo.gl/2Txi3
.‘Going Google’ however has not been an easy decision in education terms as it seems. After all, the biggest productivity player in education for 2 decades has been Mircrosoft, and with a sales pitch that includes the belief that ‘nobody has ever got sacked for choosing Office’, it has been difficult for others to break into the classroom. Google.docs have been with us for some time now (4 years or so), and bit by bit have built a remarkable suite of tools called Google Apps for Education that seem second to none. In essence though the biggest problem to overcome has been to provide training for specialists (2 sessions this year in the world only tells you just how tough it is to get hands-on). And even if that training is available by distance learning – http://goo.gl/qhFpM
– that doesn’t actually mean the ‘vision’ of what needs to be achieved is in any way clear. Until now.
Here’s a picture of our prototype dashboard for teachers and children for September 2011 – http://goo.gl/e9eKY
. Study the picture carefully, and accept that any of the buttons, widgets and apps will connect to the appropriate google tool or space behind. Third party software links through a single, sign in protocol through the More button. The Calendar is set at the whole school, year and class level, and of course any individual can add their own event to their calendar without affecting the parents above. So long as teachers or pupils have an internet connection with browser, they’ll be able to access their dashboard, using PC, Tablet, Wii, iPod or phone.In the document area, you can see a variety of files, some of which are personal to the individual, some they have shared with others to view and/or edit, and others which have come their way from their teacher or other collaborator. Please bear in mind that you don’t need to email your work to anyone – all you need to do is ‘share’ it with the person you wish to read it, and they get an email that triggers ‘go look’. For GCSE and 6th Form studies, collaborative documents in google.share transform monitoring, assessment and feedback. As a teacher, I no longer have to worry about receiving and email with an attachment, whether that attachment is small enough to squeeze through my email provider, or indeed whether the message has even been sent. And what’s even better is that uploading documents in other formats doesn’t present google.docs with a problem, because it translates them into readable form.
I sound like a Google sales person; of course I have come across plenty of teething issues, but bit by bit these are being ironed out, and the time for delay is over. So I’ve been Going Google in 2011, switching my various bits of kit from MS to GG. The phone’s a google phone, so’s the slate and so’s the browser. This document is written on–line in google.docs, because if I break off and start again somewhere else, I don’t have to worry where the file is or what’s the latest version – it’s this one here, in front of me when I go back to Google to find it – and you can see it too here – http://goo.gl/mbCgg. And if I don’t like what I have written, I can roll back the file revisions on-line ‘til I get to the bit I was happy with.
And the best bit is this – for the time being and for the foreseeable future, these services are free to the end user, without nasty pop-ups and unsuitable advertising too. My google i.d. serves as my log-in for a whole host of other third party service providers already as well, ones I regularly use in my teaching, such as Wallwisher, SurveyMonkey and the Chrome webstore. ‘Webstore’ I hear you ask, ‘What’s that?’
It’s an on-line market place for millions of free educational products, from eBooks to study aids. I found StudyStack there this morning – enjoy.