Not being known for being the sharpest knife in the drawer I have taken a fair bit of push to use Google Apps with my class although I use the Google Docs package extensively myself. The main reason why I never used Google Apps for Educators in my class is I didn’t know how to specifically and I didn’t know the usernames and passwords for the children in my class or even where they would log in. So after a bit of beavering away and a little help from my on-line Personal Learning Network I am there!
The final push that took me over the edge of thinking it might be something worth trying and spending my evening free time (ROFL) investigating more deeply was that because our wonderful COW of Apple laptops are basically dead or on their last legs and as we couldn’t afford to replace them in one hit we have leased three baby netbooks for my class. Frankly I loathe them but we do the best we can with what we’ve got and at least I have something apart from my TELA laptop for the kids to use. I also have two slow and troublesome eMacs bringing the total that my class has to six so I suppose I shouldn’t whine. Anyway, the kids want to draft their stories on the netbooks and of course they don’t have WORD on them and I couldn’t find the time to download Open Office.
So I found out where to log in for Google Apps and put a link to it at the top of our blog so the kids knew where to look. I fleetingly got myself Admin access to Google Apps and entered the kid’s names and gave them passwords that were the same as their e-AsTTle log ins so we could remember them. Then my admin privileges were gone but the set up work had been done.
Admittedly the children in my class are generally fairly ICT capable for eight year olds and all but three have internet access at home so they catch on pretty quickly to new ideas. I had one session with the whole class in front of the data projector to show them where to log in and let them read the screen as to what they needed to do to create a new document, write and draw on it and share it with others within the domain.
They caught on exceedingly well and work has been pouring in ever since. We are basically in the PLAY stage of learning- where we discover what we can do with the tool.
Last week we set a task on our homework grid to log in and do something on their docs. Marshall even set homework for ME to do using the docs.
Today Marshall who is eight decided it was time that we learnt to do presentations with Google Apps so he made a presentation on how to make a presentation.
Just in time learning on Sunday night before our Rocky Shore field trip my PLN brought me Tom Barrett’s post about using Google Spreadsheets. I quickly put one together to record our population counts from our field trip and when we got back we all entered the data as quickly as we could with multiple edits being visible on the whiteboard as we went. It was a good way to make sure everyone got a shot at logging in and recording their data and conclusions.
It’s all good and we are finding out new things together which is even better than me teaching kids how to do things my way. New things in new ways. All this in four short weeks. Yay
This video summarises the useful updates to Google Docs.