Gilroy goes GOOGLE!!

Today I ran the FIRST lot of Google Apps training for Gilroy staff, the training was run in period sessions in small faculty groups. The Google apps are run through our new landing page CLASSM8 – it was a busy day exploring the apps we have available to us and an exciting start to our Google journey.

The key focus of today was to: demonstrate the TOOLS and APPS that GOOGLE host that could enrich our resources, add to our teacher tool kits and to find ways to make us more efficient!

 

Each faculty had a session that was tailored to them based on their curriculum and existing levels of technology implementation. Some highlights from todays sessions were:

  • Using Google Drive INSTEAD of Edmodo library!

Edmodo is a common LMS for us at Gilroy, however, its file storage system does not suit all staff. SO – I demonstrated how ALL of the files required for a unit could be stored in ONE resource folder in a Google drive. Then the LINK for that folder could be shared on Edmodo with students! This means that ALL file types can be supported regardless of file size (PDF, docs and videos) AND if the file link is shared with teachers they can ALL add in cool resources that students either use in class or as extra material to study/revise.

  • Using Google Calendar to manage faculty events

Faculties such as PDHPE and CAPA run many activities over and above their class load – I demonstrated how Google calendar could be used to manage faculty events such as rehearsals, try-outs, training, games and performances. They key idea behind using Google Calendar in a faculty is that MANY staff could edit/admin the calendar and MANY students could subscribe on their devices and be reminded of events they are involved in!

  • Using Blogger with class groups

Blogging is an excellent way of getting students to write and digitally author their work, blogs can have a public audience or they can be used as a means to check and practice responses. We found lots of purposes for blogging today – responding to articles with an argument, analysing artworks, journaling a process, documenting a PIP, collating a digital portfolio and general online “showing off” !  – we used theYear 7 Blog as an example of how students LIKE to write online and compared the features of both KidBlog and Blogger.

  • Using Google Groups to communicate across campuses!

I demonstrated how Google Groups would be a perfect tool to start a cross-campus dialogue between students. For example Groups could be used in a Visual Arts classroom to discuss artworks by students across different schools- WHY? to encourage a dialogue that expresses a written opinion and to also listen to others (outside their class-group), and to independently talk about something that could be topical or subjective (ie: tackling something difficult WITHOUT teacher prompting). It would also practice safe digital communication (still easily moderated by a teacher administrator) and encourage collaboration.

 

Other google tools beyond apps that were shared today: 

 

 

What do YOU use Google for in your classroom?? 

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Why is an iPad WORKFLOW so important ??

Whilst planning the 1:1 iPad program at Gilroy in year 7 last year, I reflected back to what I thought the key issues with the 1:1 laptop program were. In my mind, staff  learning/training was a challenge that was tackled over time, the underlying pedagogy of their use was also developed as time went on BUT the LOGISTICS of passing work from student to teacher and vise-versa was an issue that needed to be addressed FIRST as it is the first obstacle that would occur in the classroom. It is essential for teachers and students to be able to share work digitally in a almost paperless environment, so how could this be done on an ipad?

Firstly I mapped the EXISTING workflow for the laptop, including ALL the ways work and communication was exchanged digitally, aside from communicating on edmodo, we used wikis, blogs, school website, shared drives, USB’s and email. I believed this was too complicated for year 7’s and wanted a simpler approach.

I then RE-DREW the work flow, with limited/simplified and specific ways to distribute classwork, assessments and submission of formal tasks, this is what it looked like:

year_7_workflow

This workflow specified filetype as well as a simple procedure for distribution of content and submission of work. It used Edmodo to distribute class content and the school website (IRIS system) to make assessment tasks available for students and parents online. SendToDropBox is a third party application that allows student to email work directly from an iPad app to teachers DropBox accounts without affecting their DropBoxes privacy/sharing settings, effectively the sent email becomes their submission receipt.

FROM THIS POINT I was able to look at specific apps that we might need to purchase for staff and students, my number ONE focus at this point was that IF IT DIDN’T FIT WITH OUR WORKFLOW, WE DIDN’T USE THE APP! This greatly simplified the app selection process, and I believed simplified the classroom workflow for students and teachers once the iPads were in classrooms.

Six months on from their roll out, I can honestly say that not all staff work within this process – variations of this process include:

  • Emailing assessment tasks directly from teacher/student, this I believe adds extra complexity to marking digital files as attachements need to opened in email, and then opening in another app, whereas if they are opened direct from dropbox they can be marked /viewed easily from this point.
  • Staff keeping existing wiki’s instead of distributing content on Edmodo. Yes this works, but they have complicated things? It is another “thin” for students to log-into, it is not dynamic an collaborative like Edmodo, so in most cases they have BOTH a wiki/Edmodo group (confusing in some instances) AND not all wiki pages play nice with iPads.
  • Teachers ask students to download apps without pre-testing the workflow, then the day of tasks being due I get questions like: how do students submit or share work with each other from this app?? This is normally more complicated than anything really should be!
  • Work sent is LARGE in file size, too large for the sendtodropbox facility. So the techies and I researched an app that could share files over bluetooth and wifi – THIS was the best one that we tested was: WIRESHARE

Before you personally or as a school think about devices in a 1:1 or BYOD environment, I advise that the WORKFLOW between teachers and students is your FIRST priority. If sharing of content cannot happen easily, it really makes classrooms that use technology too difficult, and then the resisting arguments arise that “this is too hard, I might as well just photocopy and hand out a worksheet, it is easier” and yes, if a process is that complicated it would be difficult to argue the appropriateness of technology, as we all know that failures in seamless integration of technology can really get in the way of teaching 😦

I found that by making the workflow FIRST priority other challenges were easily solved as time went on.

Tutorials for STAFF to set up DropBox and SendToDropBox accounts and other relevant tech tutorials are available here: STAFF TECH TUTORIALS 

Providing iPad training for staff OFF SITE using GOGGLE DOCS!!

Teachers are busy people, we work ourselves silly until the silly season and holidays are here, we usually have those final days at school reserved for professional development and learning but seriously  who’s really awake? listening? coherent? 

Gilroy had the first stage of the 1:1 2013 roll out during the last week of school- PERFECT TIMING for staff to receive an ipad  as they could spend the holidays playing and exploring- BUT the downside is that staff and myself were tired in the last week of term, and too busy winding up 2012 to even think of what’s going on in 2013.

The solution was to create a set of online tutorials – I thought about hosting these on a website, but that would mean they were static, stand alone tutorials without being dynamic and collaborative. I therefore chose to create a PUBLIC GOOGE DOC FOLDER, by changing a single folders accessibility I did not make all my Google Doc files public. I also decided that SOME TUTORIALS should be collaborative, and others should not, again, changing the share settings to suit.

tutorials sreen shot

Currently there are 15 files in the folder, some are numbered, this creates a flow of “lessons” – – – staff teaching year 7 next year have the expectation to complete the first 5 as they are detrimental to the ipads operation and work flow in our classrooms – but as I add more, it is up to them if they feel confident to go further!

The bonus of this is that staff can COMPLETE PD IN THEIR OWN TIME, WHEN THEY ARE REFRESHED AND READY, refer back to the tutorials when required either by saving them onto their computer or accessing them online.

TUTORIALS CAN BE FOUND HERE – – – -> https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0B-TXEjJntTRxb3g1NUo1SlRaVnc/edit

The files that are open for collaboration are for people to help shape, please contribute and add your ideas. Thank you to those who have already contributed, but also a specific thank you to Denise Lombardo as her “twitter teacher directory” is in there and has been MOST helpful 🙂

 

I have enabled sharing on the files so that others may use them too! Let me know what is useful to you and your colleagues 🙂