Wednesday, May 4, 2011

10 tips for using Google Apps in the classroom

     Our school has an education account from Google, enabling access the many available tools on a secure network. If your school is looking to move to the cloud this  is a great option to consider.

Here are ten tips for using Google Apps in the classroom:

1. Collaborate on your documents 

  • With Google Docs, you can invite others to collaborate together on the same document in real time. This is great for when you want students to work together as a group. Students can also chat with each other as they are working on the document, allowing them to have a discussion about the document. 

2. Get parents to schedule themselves for conferences and other events: 

  • By making a document and sharing it with your parents as editors, you can avoid a lot of time having to email back and forth to confirm times. They just sign up for an available time themselves.

3. Create a class homepage: 

  • Using Google sites, you can easily create a homepage and decide who can have access to it and whether they can access as viewers or editors. I use it for newsletters, homework postings, document storage, links, videos, photos and more. 
  • You can also get your students to create their own site and use it as a digital portfolio. 

4. Quizzes 

  • Using Google Forms, you can create your own quizzes with a variety of question formats. You can send this directly to your students to do and you can access the results. 
  • You can also embed your quizzes, and all other Google document types into your website and they will be automatically updated as changes are made to the document. 
  • Insert Youtube videos into your site or use embed code to add content from another site and create quizzes related to these. This makes a great class activity. Students watch videos directly on the class website and then answer questions related to it directly on the site using a quiz that has been embedded using Google forms. 

5. Share your photos with Picasa 

  • Picasa works very well with your Google account. I am able to access all of my contacts when sharing on Picasa and embed albums directly into my Google site for students to see. 

6. Surveys 

  • You can use it as an alternative to sites like Survey Monkey and create various surveys. Results are automatically tabulated in spreadsheet and graph formats. This makes it a great tool for doing a unit on data management in math. 
  • This is also a great way to get staff, parents or students to register for events by creating a form for them to fill out.

7. Cloud Storage

  •  In addition to having access to all the documents you create on Google Docs, you can also upload your own files created in other programs. Google now allows you to upload videos as well as whole files from your computer. 

8. Stay organized: 

  • Use Google calendar to keep track of everything that is happening and sync it with various devices you own. You can have various calendars (personal, work, etc) and share your calendars with others. 
  • You can even create calendars for booking rooms or equipment in the school. 
  • You can store and organize all your contacts and content into folders. This is important since things can get cluttered quickly if not organized. 

9. Email (of course) 

  • Just the phone started as a way to call people, Gmail was set up for email. But both have also progressed to be much more. 
  • Not only can you email, you can see which contacts are online and chat with them or use Google Talk to have a video conversation if you want. 
  • This can be a good option in a school where you need to discuss something with a colleague but don't want to walk across campus. 

10. Use the apps available on the education marketplace to get even more options. 

  • There are so many new apps available on the Google education marketplace to help educators be more productive. One great tool is the Learnboost gradebook software which I reviewed a while back.