My World has Turned Googly!

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 🙂

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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? 

Making real connections at the DLTV conference 2014

Blown away, amazing, practical and awesome are just some of the words to describe this year’s Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria conference at Swinburne. I was fortunate to attend the DLTV conference as both a presenter and attendee. Some great things I took away from the conference (in no specific order) were:

  • Inspirational key note speakers (Adrian Camm and Khoa Do). I don’t think I can fully capture the impact these speakers had on me in words. They used their own experiences (as educators and film makers) to show that anything is possible.
  • Seeing the power of Google apps for the classroom and to organise myself as a teacher and my students. I am really making use of Google forms, Google tasks and Google calendar. I have gotten my students to complete post reflection tests using Google forms (I only had access to 6 iPads), but the ease of using it was fantastic.
  • Understanding the importance of giving students more say in their learning and the apps they choose to use. As teachers, we don’t always have time to search and trawl through the thousands of apps out there, but students do. Why not get some appsperts in your class and let them review apps and choose which apps to use to show their thinking?
  • How students can really show their creativity through movie making and green screening. I have now downloaded the app Green Screen by Do Ink and plan to use this with my class. It’s a great app to use especially if you don’t have a 1:1 iPad system.
  • You can learn from everyone. Last year when I attended the conference, I didn’t think I had anything I could bring to the community. However, this year when I chose to present on ‘Blogging in the Early Years’, I realised that everyone has something to contribute. I feel that I shared some useful ideas and knowledge on blogging.
  • Implementing change in schools takes time. I went to a fantastic session on ‘Motivating the Masses’ and this was a main theme throughout the DLTV conference sessions I attended. Whether you are a principal, have a position of leadership or classroom teacher, it all takes a long time. It also doesn’t matter what you are implementing, be it Google apps, iPad apps, etc, you need to be patient and not expect things to change overnight. Before implementing any change, it is very important to know the three Ps which are: knowing your product, your people and your process. It is also so important to get people on your side (followers or early adopters) – see this fantastic clip on leadership, dancing guy.
  • There are so many fantastic teachers out there and I feel so motivated and supported when I talk with them. Meeting people who I have communicated with on twitter and then meeting them in person to chat about teaching is insanely fun.

I can’t wait for next year’s DLTV conference! 🙂