Google Apps: Short and sweet (or so I thought)…

Well, hours of time set aside to blog extensively about my experiences with the early phases of implementing Google Apps in my two Social Studies 10 classes have come and gone. Unfortunately, over an hour of that allotted time was spent attempting to get my sick 5 month old back to sleep.  When you combine this time with the hour or so I seem to spend procrastinating while suffering through “bloggers block” you have a fairly lethal amount of time well-wasted. As a result I’m going to have to post some initial observations about implementing Google Apps  in a few short bursts and hope for some feedback from my legions of fans…

Observation #1: My students dove right into their personalized Gmail accounts. They immediately went about adding their friends and classmates to their instant messenger contacts and had no complaints about only being able to add users from our Google Apps domain name. Initially students focused on using the IM tool for socializing only, but the time I found a student that was home sick communicating with me and her classmates on IM during class time in an effort to stay on top of what was happening in class was a pretty cool moment.

Observation #2: Google Sites are incredibly easy to use. I was able to set up a simple yet effective class site in a short period of time. I introduced Google Sites to my students and then let them lose with building their own personal sites. After some time spent exploring on their own I had them build their own “Socials 10” sites for our class. These sites are fairly embryonic at this point, but they’ve played around with inserting my homework calendar and inserting work they have created in Google Docs. I’m looking forward to continuing to come up with new ways for my students to use their sites as they have really embraced this idea so far.

Observation #3a: Google Docs is a great tool for collaboration, but I wish the “Revision History” tool, which allows you to compare past versions of a given document, was a bit more powerful. I have had my students collaborate by using Docs to do some group writing and some peer editing, but it would be nice if the “Revision History” tool made it easier to get an overall picture of how much individual collaborators have put in to a given document.

Observation #3b: Keeping track of all the Google Docs that students share with you can get messy in a hurry! I’m still working on creating some system for organizing incoming documents automatically. I’m also attempting to figure out how NOT to get an email every time a student shares a doc with me. Any tips regarding either of these issues?

Observation #4: I was able to create a fairly thorough student survey form relating to their use of technology using Google Forms. I intend to use this tool for gathering student feedback on our use of Google Apps as a part of my masters project research. I also plan to use it to quiz students and as a type of “exit form” to figure out what topics students do or do not understand. Shortly after using my technology survey I witnessed another teacher attempt to survey every student in our school using paper surveys. I shuddered thinking about the nightmare of compiling all of that data and was glad had Google Forms to do the dirty work for me.
Observation #5: I need to continue to search for different lesson activities that can be improved through the use of Google Apps. I think I’m barely scratching the surface of what my students can be doing using these tools. If anyone has any ideas (big or small) that they’d like to share I’ll compile them all and test them out over the next few weeks.

Well, in the end I would say that this post is neither short nor sweet, but it is a start. There is still lots to be done and I will try to do a better job staying on top of my work with Google Apps in the coming weeks.

Dan
PS: I realize I forgot a fairly important observation…

Observation #6: All the Google propaganda I have been spreading in my blog, tweeting about on Twitter and bookmarking in Delicious hasn’t gotten me a whiff of an invite to Google Wave. C’mon Google, I’m drowning in your Kool-Aid here, would it kill you to toss me an invite already?

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9 responses to “Google Apps: Short and sweet (or so I thought)…

  1. Thank you for your thoughts on using Google Apps. I’m teaching my first of a series of three optional classes for our staff today on Google Docs. I’m excited to get to talk about this tool with them.

    There is a solution to your email invite dilemma. When students invite you to share their document, there is a small link at the bottom right of the “Invite People…” tab that says “Add without sending invitation.” Make sure students type your email in the “Invite” box, click on that link, and then hit the “OK” button on the box that pops us. You will be added without the hassle of a million invite emails.

    • I’m glad to hear your staff intro to Google Docs went well. I’m no expert, but if you want ideas feel free to let me know. Also, thanks for the tip on sending invites to collaborate without an email. I’m not sure how I missed that option as it is in plain site, but my inbox is a lot less clogged now.

  2. Love your post on Google. I am about to teach my teachers on the “Power of Google”. Hope to use this as an example for them!

  3. Looks like you are making excellent use og Google Tools. Don’t forget RSS feeds and Google Earth as well as the 9 or 10 new search techniques introduced last week. I have found the relatively new podcast This Week in Google to be excellent. Mr. Chamberlain recommend it to me. I have now listened to all sessions and am up to date with it, listening every week and learning lots!

    And I don’t have a WAVE invite either. I’ll give you one if I get one top give. Hope you will consider me for one if you get one to give!

    jstrange in class, @drjohnhadley on Twitter http://www.johnstrange.com on the web

    • John,

      Thanks for stumbling upon my humble little blog and replying. I am looking forward to using Google Earth with my students as we get into some geography the exploration of western Canada. I will have to check out that podcast you suggested as well. As for Google Wave, I will happily make a pact with you now to send you an invite if/when I get one. I am following you on Twitter so feel free to follow me as well (@reiddan).

  4. PS. I see no reason for moderating posts in the case of adults. You can always kill a post.

    Just my view on things.

  5. Mr Reid,

    Let me know if you haven’t received your Wave invite yet and we will happily send you one if you send us your email address 🙂

    Thanks
    cristin

  6. I forgot that I had written this about Google Docs. It may be helpful, or the links in it may be helpful: http://is.gd/4tgTC

    John

  7. Celia Deschambeault

    I am thinking about all the google applications (if thats what they are called) or tools availabe and never realized the many uses that they have. I can see the possibilites that these applications can have for the staff and am thinking of practicing using them and teaching them to my staff. I feel that they will find great use for them. Your observations have been helpful!

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