EDST 499k – Day 4 Reflection and thoughts on Google Apps

Today we spent most of our time working with Flips to make mini films. The Flip cameras were really easy to use though they have somewhat limited features.  They seem pretty ideal for students who aren’t working in a video production class, but simply doing video projects in other areas.  While I can’t see myself doing a ton of work in my own classes with video production it was still interesting to work with the technology and to get a better appreciation for the amount of work people must put into their own videos and films. Here is the video our group made in class.

I thought I’d mention Google Apps for a couple of reasons. Firstly, we have been doing some work with Google Docs in class during the last few sessions so it is something topical to discuss. Secondly, and somewhat selfishly, I plan on focusing my masters project on my own experience implementing Google Apps into one or more of my classes this upcoming year. I am very interested in testing the powers of Google Docs for student collaboration and Google Calendar for keeping students and parents abreast of due dates and tests. I know Google Apps can do do much more than this and really improving the experience of students in my classes.

I am a bit concerned about the difficulties I anticipate potentially encountering when I approach my administration and board office to get permission to set up Google Apps in my class. The main reason I am anticipating some difficulties is the lack of awareness about the power of Apps. I am hopeful that I can get the necessary people on board by presenting info on some other schools and their successes with Apps, such as Adam Scott C.V.I. & Intermediate School in Peterborough, Ontario and Arizona State University where the entire university runs on Apps.

So I am about to start planning my sales pitch to my admin and board office. If anyone that stumbles upon my quaint little blog is able to offer any insight or advice as to how best to approach this (or has any other tips relating to using Google Apps) it would be greatly appreciated. I’ve received some very helpful feedback on my posts from the past few days (thank you all!) and added some valuable contacts through Twitter as well.




9 responses to “EDST 499k – Day 4 Reflection and thoughts on Google Apps

  1. I would love to talk to you about implementation of Google Apps. We are doing our full school migration this summer.

  2. Dan –

    The biggest problem with using Google Apps as a platform is that you have issues of privacy. Now I don’t know how you can address that – but you should do some thinking about that issue and how you will address it in case it comes up. Privacy was the the biggest stumbling block when someone suggested Google as a platform to replace some of our LMS’s.

    Perhaps someone at Arizona State can be contacted?

    The biggest advantage is that it’s free. Secondly, you are doing research on/with this experiment (maybe that’s your angle)

  3. I’d imagine having some success stories on hand would help.

    I used Google Docs last spring for a capstone essay in my Spanish IV class (high school). Students drafted their essay and shared it first with two other classmates and me so they could collaborate and get feedback immediately. After draft 1 was complete, they shared it with other classmates for more peer editing. It went really well. They didn’t have to worry about finding a printer or wasting paper for countless drafts, so it was greener, too!

    Good luck!

  4. It’s funny that I just happened to click on the link to your post. I was just on my way to create a google form for my students to use during a research project in the fall. A teacher in Kansas and I (Philadelphia) are hoping to collaborate this year on several projects. Google Apps will be ideal. We also plan on using edmodo for discussions. I have not used google apps in my high school class yet, but with older students, I can have them set up their own gmail accounts. What grade do you teach? Maybe if you have a specific project set up and ready to go, you could use it to show the administration the power of collaboration using google apps. They may be more accepting once they see your enthusiasm.

  5. As a parent I love the Google suite of products. I have managed to get the school (and ball teams etc) to put events on a Google calendar which I can then import into my own personal calendar. This has saved our family on many occasions! I’ve helped a couple of teachers get started blogging on Blogger (seems to be the easiest) — the parents appreciate the window into the classroom these blogs are providing. The next steps were Google Readers and igoogle home pages.

    The key has been not to just talk about how these things can be used but to roll up your sleeves, find out what the “value added” catch will be for each person or set of people (ie teachers, admin, parents, students) and get them started (lot of handholding — but once you get a few key people started the rest will follow). The “value added” part will be different for everyone — for me its easy calendar integration, for another it may be the RSS or igoogle homepage, or even the ease of having gmail (kids/hb not deleting my emails) — take the time to listen and show how the apps can solve what THEY need solved (and what they need may not have anything to do with school!) Once they can see the utility personally it easier to “sell” it for institutional use.

    I’d suggest contacting Matt Montagne (@mjmontagne – Twitter http://middleschoolblog.blogspot.com/ ) as he has done a lot with the Google suite of products as well as Parent outreach — he always has great insights!

    Good Luck!


  6. @Penny – thank you for kind words there!

    @Dan – The good news is that Google is very clear about data ownership and privacy in the Google Apps Enterprise/EDU space.

    During the information gathering prior to our decision to transition away from First Class to google this past spring, we collected some links and resources and posted them here: http://castillejatech.wikispaces.com/Google+Info If you scroll to the bottom, you’ll find a link that takes you to their security and privacy section: http://www.google.com/support/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=60762

    Rest assured that data isn’t mined and that the institution owns the data, not google (this is a big urban legend that we had to work hard on within our community). Oddly enough, we found during our transition away from First Class to Google that even though we ‘owned’ the First Class server and had it installed on site, we actually had very little ownership over the First Class data because the system is not standards compliant. We had a horrible time porting mail from Firstclass to Google mail. First Class is from an era of silo application development and I’m glad we’ve moved on to a system that is built on open standards, offers flexible data portability, and provides users access regardless of operating system or mobile device type.

    As far as security goes, Google is no more/less secure than any other mail environment I’m familiar with. Of course we all heard recently about a Twitter employee’s account being hacked, but I heard a similar a story a few months ago about a school in Colorado who had their GroupWise server stolen out of their school! This can’t happen with Google Mail/apps :-).

    We created a resource that we’ve used to document our progress and provide support to our school community throughout this transition. This resource is posted over here: http://tinyurl.com/castigoogle. Feel free to use/re-purpose any of this content if it may be of use. Much cooler than this, however, is a resource created by one of our tech department high school student summer interns. It is a collection of screencasts on various features in our new Google Apps network. It is still being developed, but you can take a look at some of the ‘casts over here: http://sites.google.com/a/castilleja.org/student-google-help/Home

    Finally, if 10 years ago you were to tell your administration that your school could have an incredibly empowering internal/external collaboration system that worked across operating systems and different mobile devices, that was constantly being upgraded/improved, and that this system was entirely FREE, they would’ve jumped all over it.

    Good luck ‘Googlifying’ your school!

    Matt Montagne
    Palo Alto, California

  7. Hi Dan, thought I’d continue from our classes and read some of the postings. I posted to your Blog, but not in the correct place! I meant to do it here. How do you create links?
    I am teaching Gr 7 math, science and art/drama and would like to work on a project with them and thought science, but now am thinking of having them collaborate on a play in drama. I think I’ll have to practice. I don’t think I connected my Blogs with the tinyurl.com/edst499k how do I do that?

  8. Pingback: Back in the saddle. Project Google Apps begins… « Dan Reid's Blog

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