People all over the world use Google’s tools, such as Google Maps, Gmail, Calendar and of course Google Search. Google also has Google Docs, a suite of productivity tools such as word processing, spreadsheets, drawings, and presentations. There is real power in Google Docs. Not only can you access documents anytime, anywhere, you can also share those files with others and collaborate in real time. Instead of sending emails back in forth to your sister in Minneapolis while planning your daughter’s wedding, invite her to a planning document, and develop an address list together at the same time without leaving the comfort of your couch.
The real power of collaboration is in the hands of students and teachers. Currently, children who are under the age of 13 can’t create a Google account without permission of their parents or guardians, thus tying hands of teachers who want to use Google with their students. Enter Google Apps for Education. Google Apps for Education provides a suite of tools, Google Calendar, Gmail, Docs, Sites, and Groups free to colleges, K-12 schools, and state level educational institutions all over the world. From the Bering Strait School in Alaska, the Institute School of Business in Moscow, the Epsom Grammar School in New Zealand to those closer to home such as the University of Texas and Clear Lake, IA.
Google Apps provides a safe, secure, and ad free environment in which educators and students can work more effectively, efficiently, and collaborate with others. Users can create events and/or assignment calendars and share them with specific users or the public. Others can access those calendars easily on computers, tablets and mobile phones. Gone are planners, which get lost or destroyed. It is all right there on the web, that as a parent, you can access, anytime, anywhere. Also, because the Google Docs are universal, there are no worries about compatibility or versions. Just like all Google tools, Google Docs are on the web, and can be accessed and even edited by almost any device, including smartphones. Students can continue working on assignments anywhere they have an Internet connection and a device to access it. It means those smart phones and iPads that are in the hands of your children, can access their school files anywhere, including on that long bus ride to sporting event! The next time your student complains that they can’t work on their schoolwork, or they just can’t get organized, just say Google It!
Iowa’s Area Educator Agencies are developing resources, providing support and training at multiple levels in the process of “Going Google”. AEA 267 has Information Technology personnel who are trained in setting up a school’s Google Apps account. AEA 267 also has Google Certified Trainers to help educators develop their skills in effectively integrating Google Apps in the classroom. Since Iowa was first introduced to Google in the summer of 2010 on a statewide scale, AEA 267 has trained over 700 educators.
Kay Schmalen is a consultant for technology and curriculum with Area Education Agency 267. She is based out of the Clear Lake office and can be reached at email@example.com. Area Education Agency 267 serves over 60,000 students. In addition, over 5,000 educators rely on AEA 267 for services in special education, school technology, media and instructional/curriculum support. The agency’s service area reaches 18 counties and nearly 9,000 square miles.