During the September school holidays, I was fortunate to attend the Google Apps for Education Summit at Xavier College, Melbourne for two full days of googly goodness. Before attending, I was already using some Google products in the classroom such as Google docs, sheets, slides and forms. One feature that I particularly like about Google’s products mentioned previously are that they can be saved automatically and allow for collaboration (say bye to version control). Oh and they are FREE 🙂
The keynote speaker Suan Yeo was inspiring and his statement ‘strong teachers don’t teach content, Google has content’ really resonated with me. He referred to the fun theory website here and made me think how I can make all learning activities, no matter how uninspiring they may seem, fun. This website has a piano staircase to encourage people to use the stairs and a rubbish bin that plays music to encourage people to throw rubbish. How cool is that?
The Summit had a wide range of speakers from across the country and internationally. These are some of my highlights:
- Seeing the benefits of using e-portfolios using Google Sites. How one sets up an e-portfolio should be dependent on your vision and what you want to achieve. E-portfolios have a wide range of benefits, some include: it encourages reflection; it can assist in the curation of assessment for, as and of learning; it provides students with a sense of identify; it can be interactive, and stored/accessed without physical limits; anyone in school community can access the e-portfolio.
- Becoming a GAFE school is a long process and you need to be selective about which part you implement first based on the needs of your school.
- Some tips for using the Chrome browser include: Command or control T for new tab; Shift + Command/control + B – to turn bookmarks bar on and off; you can bookmark all the tabs by right click on a tab and click and put into a folder.
- Some great Chrome extensions include: Clearly – awesome to get rid of things you don’t need (eg it gets rid of ads); Awesome screen shot can take a screenshot of your entire screen and then you can annotate it; Chromespeak – good for reading out text.
- Google Maps and My Maps have some amazing features that include: adding pictures/images/videos to markers; measuring the distance, area and perimetre of places;
Dorothy Burt did an amazing closing keynote on how she has used technology to transform her school community. It is all very easy for people in high socio-economic schools to say technology is just a tool, but as Dorothy Burt pointed out, ‘it’s not just a tool when it transforms and opens up new opportunities’. Her student are empowered to do fantastic things such as ask the minister of education some questions, repairing a couch at school by watching youtube, connecting with other students around the world through blogging and learning to cook with a Michelin star chef.
All in all, I really enjoyed the GAFE Summit and hope to go again next year!
What Google tools do you like using in schools?