Google Apps for Education - The beginning of our journey!

I always say Technology should do two things for teachers - save them time and money. The way we have implemented iPads, social media and blogging in our school has definitely achieved this. The problem is that we are using a whole range of apps and tools -
  • Blogging - PrimaryBlogger
  • Planning - Evernote
  • Saving/Sharing work on iPads- Dropbox
  • Saving documents on laptops - School Server
  • School Email - Outlook 365
To name but a few. Ideally, we want a system that can cover most if not all of these elements making it easy and straight forwards for teachers... step forward - Google Apps for Education.
We have been very fortunate to work alongside Mark Allen (@edintheclouds) who is supporting us in our journey with Google Apps for Edu. Having first-hand experience in deploying Google Apps for Edu in a number of schools worldwide has helped us create a vision and plan rolling it out successfully. 

Firstly, we have started by focussing on the teachers. We are still in the very early stages, however, staff are excited about the potential with these tools. Some benefits that stand out to me -
  • Unlimited Google Drive Space - Once your schools is set up, you have unlimited Google Drive space meaning anything on your school server can now be transferred to Google Drive meaning teachers don't need to be at school to access documents, plans etc.
  • Virtual Staffroom - We have built a Google Site that has an announcement board and calendar. Again, it is accessible from anywhere meaning teachers can find out what's happening without needing to be in school.
  • Email and the ease of sharing and collaborating on documents - Google gives you access to their equivalent to office tools - docs, slides, numbers etc and these can be easily shared with staff. 
  • No more printing planning! Planning can now all be stored on Google Drive, saving money and then can be accessed on any device a teacher has - phone, tablet computer. If you are still printing planning for it to be handed in and checked each week, you're doing it wrong, planning can be stored on the drive and accessed by the powers that be. It is also worth mentioning Ofsted have also said:
 'Ofsted does not specify how planning should be set out, the length of time it should take or the amount of detail it should contain. Inspectors are interested in the effectiveness of planning rather than the form it takes.'
  • Most apps are available on every device - need to make a note on my planning, I can do that on my phone, iPad, Chromebook or laptop at home!
As you can see, the benefits for schools and teachers are amazing but I've not even mentioned the best part! It is all completely FREE!!! You don't need to pay a penny! 

The plan is to get teachers using the tools initially and then looking at the Google Classroom feature. That too looks great, however, my only reservation is that it encourages more typed up assignments and pieces of work, which I feel would suit secondary schools more. The fact is, even though I don't agree, handwriting still has a big part to play in Primary School assessments -

Children cannot get to greater depth in writing without neat, cursive handwriting. Now I could get into a big discussion about how I feel this doesn't make you a good writer and isn't necessarily an important skill to have in this modern digital world we live in but I won't. Just have a read of how Finland, one of the leading countries in Education is tackling the situation. No, I will resist the urge to show examples of handwriting of some famous authors as to prove that point 

We will give it a go and see, so I will probably blog again in the future once we have trialed some more of the Google tools including the Classroom feature! 

For any schools interested in getting Google Apps for Education set up for their school, drop Mark an email - mark.allen@edintheclouds.com.








Comments

  1. How do I build a virtual staffroom??? Looks great!

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