A lot is happening in the world of technology in education these days, especially with the movement of ‘going to the cloud’. This is an inevitable move that school boards/districts are going to be making in the years to come as it offers a tremendous amount of benefits both on the teaching side of things, but also the administrative/IT/ business side as well.
At NPSCDSB, we’re on the road of making the shift to Going Google. It’s been over a year of presenting research and debates about which direction we were going to take, and it is finally paying off. Many school boards across Ontario (and south of the border as well) were instrumental in making this plan come to reality as there was open sharing of their experiences and expertise with us along our journey. Without this network at all levels (SOs, IT, Curriculum Team), we may not even be considering such a move at this point.
In my opinion, I see Google Apps for Education being a game-changer, making everyone’s lives so much easier from productivity and accessibility by students and teachers, to administrative and business benefits (management, cost). It’s more than just converting work files to Google formats for their Docs, Sheets and Slides, or storing and organizing files in Drive; it is taking the creation and collaboration potential and making it easily accessible by all in and out the classroom walls.
As with any type of movement, it’s not going to happen overnight. There will be those who adopt early and those that take some time to truly understand the benefits not only for the students, but for themselves as well. In either case, it is important for everyone to see and experience these benefits before casting any doubts on such a move. Help sites Google’s Google for Education: Google in your Classroom training site, or other sites such as GAFEhelp.ca are only a couple among dozens of resources out there to help see the potential.
There will undoubtably be those who fear this change, as it is something new and arguably drastic to the way they do things currently. At the end of the day, a solid transition plan is needed so that users all have an opportunity to see and understand what’s happening as a school system.
Here are a few key points to consider when adopting this change:
Life in the Browser
When moving to Google Apps, one key benefit for not only staff but especially for students is that there is no more need for installed software. Google Apps for Education’s ecosystem is accessible through the internet browser of your choice (of course, it works better with Google Chrome). This removes the need for installing software on computers both in schools and at home, saving school boards/districts and families a lot (I mean, an insane amount) of money.
Converting Made Easy
One of the biggest fears of moving to Google Apps for Education is having to recreate work that is already made in another format (ie: Microsoft Office), or, that the conversion won’t take (ie: the woes of the Wordperfect to Word conversion in the 90s). Google Apps makes it easier than ever to not only use Drive as your storage solution, but it also makes it easy for users to convert files to Google format.
Collaboration Like Never Before
Descriptive feedback and peer assessment are two examples of how you are able to leverage the power of Google Apps in an educational setting. Students are able to be in a document live with peers, either working on a group project or revising a friends work.
There are many more benefits that I can list, but amazing bloggers such as (for example)
Alice Keeler post tips and tricks on a regular basis for us to see all the crazy neat things that we can do with these tools. I think the verdict is out that the cloud is our future; it’s now our job as digital leaders to educate those around us on the true potential of making the move.
And if you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit excited. 🙂