Why Google Apps?
I mentioned in my last post about my current love affair with Google Apps for Education. Before I go any further, I thought I should share with you what this is and why it is great for teaching and learning. If you are already on the bandwagon, have a great day and look for my next post.
Google Apps for Education is a suite of cloud computing apps that include word-processing (Docs), spreadsheets (Spreadsheet) , a presentation software (Presentation) , and a website creation capability (Google Sites) that are all contained in “the cloud” instead of on a local machine at school or home.
Why is this a big deal?
- If the software is in “the cloud” there are no more compatibility issues with work happening at school and at home – no worry about what version of PowerPoint the child has or if they have Word, but not Excel, etc. If they can connect to the internet, they have access to the same software they were using in class.
- If the work is in “the cloud” there are no more issues with “I left it at school” or “I left it at home” or flash drives that may or may not work or file compatibility. If the work is in “the cloud” it is always accessible any time an internet connection is available.
- Google Apps for Education is cross platform – which means that it doesn’t matter if you are working on a PC or a Mac, an iPad or an Android tablet – Google Apps is accessible across all devices.
- Google Apps is free. Your school or district may have already set up accounts for your students, and if it hasn’t, suggest it to them!
Still with me? All of these things are awesome, it is true, but that is not what really makes Google Apps special. What makes it special is how it allows students to collaborate and how it makes feedback from peers and teachers easier and more direct.
- For peer conferencing, students share their Google Doc with another student and they leave written comments for each other embedded in the text. Student can highlight awkward or unclear sentences to point out or make suggestions. The teacher then has access to every comment made within the text.
- Teachers can insert feedback where it is needed in clear typed notes – pointing out grammatical errors, or highlighting words that would benefit from stronger word choice, or whatever writing skill is the focus of the piece.
- The teacher has access to the document without physically picking it up, so comments can be made on works in progress.
- Comments can be made via your iPad, laptop, or desktop computer without taking stacks of papers home to assess.
- In my experience, students are much more likely to revise typed work versus handwritten work. It allows students to focus on the revision versus the sometimes laborious task of rewriting an entire assignment.
In short, these are some of the reasons I love working with Google Apps, and in my next few posts will be focusing on how I use Google Apps for Ed in the classroom. My first experiment was in using shared folders, which I wrote about here.