Well, it has certainly been awhile since I got around to updating my modest little blog. A few weeks off without literature reviews, course readings and thinking too much about my masters in general has done the trick. I almost feel ready to go into school tomorrow and start prepping for the first day of school on September 9th. Between that and another week of summer institute classes at UBCO starting on August 31st my last two weeks of summer are looking fairly full already. Oh well, such is the life…
For the next few months I’ll be using this blog to keep a journal of sorts about my proposed masters project. In this project I intend to pilot the implementation of Google Apps in two of my Social Studies 10 classes. I discussed my early thoughts on this idea in an earlier post and I have taken a couple of steps towards implementation since that time.
On Friday August 21st I met with my principal to discuss my plan. While he had heard of Google Apps he wasn’t familiar with everything that it did. Although I had to provide him with a fairly rough verbal overview of what Google Apps is and does (my laptop hard-drive bit it during Alec Couros’ class), he was very excited about, and supportive of, my plan. He booked me full time computer labs for my two Socials 10 classes which will obviously make the use of Google Apps on a consistent basis much easier. My principal didn’t foresee any barriers to my proposal at the district level, but he suggested that I should put together a bit of info about my project and Google Apps to pass along to the powers-that-be at the board office.
Taking my principal’s advice to heart, I set about writing up my overview. I thought I would post the results in this blog for anyone that might be interested. I have omitted names of a few people and the name of my school out of respect for the privacy of others. I relied heavily on links and feedback provided by those of you that stumbled upon this blog in order to support my proposal so I will issue you all a group thank you again. The power of a dynamic PLN continues to amaze me. So, here it is. Not the most exciting read in the world but hopefully it will be enough to get things rolling…
Dan Reid’s Masters Project Proposal: Piloting the implementation of Google Apps Education Edition
My name is Dan Reid and I am currently teaching Social Studies and English at ######## Secondary School. At the present time, I am in the process of completing my masters in educational technology through UBCO. I started my masters in September of 2008 and hope to be finished it by July of 2010. One requirement of this masters program is the completion of a final project that furthers my learning and is useful to myself and other teachers. Based upon discussions with both ########, my masters project supervisor, and ########, I have decided to base my masters project around an examination of the implementation of Google Apps Education Edition in one or two of my Social Studies 10 classes.
What is Google Apps Education Edition? (NOTE: All pieces of underlined text are links to related sites and/or videos.)
Google Apps Education Edition is a free online application suite that is designed to improve and promote communication and collaboration. A growing number of school districts and universities have implemented Google Apps with resounding success. This 10 minute video provides a fairly thorough overview of some of the main features of Google Apps, but here are a few highlights:
- EMAIL: Gmail(Google mail) accounts for students and staff. These accounts can be set up to grab email from other accounts and include built-in text, voice and video chat features to enhance collaboration. They also allow for over 7000 MB of storage, and they are totally ad-free when created as a part of Google Apps Education Edition.
- GOOGLE DOCS: Google Docs is a web-based application that allows people to work collaboratively from any two computers with internet connections. The collaborative power of Google Docs is explained clearly and quickly in this brief video. Google Docs allows people to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations that can be easily shared and can be quickly converted to and from other types of documents such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. All of these documents can be submitted and marked online so there is no need to print anything. The power of Google Docs is difficult to explain in just a few words so I have included a couple of other useful links that explain it very well.
- GOOGLE CALENDAR: Google Calendar is a great communication tool. Individuals can create their own events to add to their personal calendars and they can also share their calendars with other people, be they students, parents or staff members. This is a great way to improve communication of school events and assignment deadlines to students and parents. It is also a great way to determine suitable meeting times for staff members and to notify or remind staff members about upcoming meetings.
- CUSTOM DOMAIN NAME: While the entire Google Apps application suite and all associated emails and files are hosted by Google, Google Apps allows users to create and use a custom domain name. For example, using Google Apps students would not have email@example.com for their Gmail addresses. Instead, they would have email addresses along the lines of student@####secondary.ca, student@####school.ca, or even student@#######.ca, depending on the domain name that was deemed to be most appropriate for this pilot project. Another benefit of using your own domain name is that the Google logos can be replaced by school logos. An example of a school email account created in Google Apps for Castilleja School, located in California, can be found here.
- CONCERNS OVER GOOGLE AND PRIVACY: Click here to review Google’s security and privacy policies.
What exactly is my masters project proposal?
As stated earlier, in my proposed masters project I would like to pilot the implementation of Google Apps in two of my Semester 1 Social Studies 10 classes. The first part of my project would focus on an overview of the steps that I went through in attempting to get approval for my proposal — in other words, this very proposal overview! The second part would track the difficulties and successes that I encountered as I completed the implementation process and began to introduce Google Apps to my students. The third part would then examine my attempts to improve student collaboration and overall learning through the use of Google Apps in these two classes. Don suggested that it might be worthwhile to see if there are other staff members interested in getting involved in using Google Apps to improve staff collaboration and communication, so an examination of this could also be done. The final part would be a review of the entire process that would include recommendations for a potential wider-scale implementation of Google Apps either solely at ######### or throughout the district. Obviously the details of each of these four components need to be fleshed out somewhat, but I intend to keep a “journal” throughout the process on my recently created blog in order to ensure that I am remembering to record the ups and downs of my busy year.
What happens next?
######## didn’t foresee any major issues with getting approval for this pilot study, but we both thought it would be best that both ########## and ########## were aware of what we were planning on doing. We also wanted to be sure that we chose an acceptable domain name to use and I would be happy to provide a list of possible domain names if the ones mentioned earlier are not deemed to be appropriate. Once again, I want to reiterate that Google Apps Education Edition is completely free and that this pilot project would require no extra technical support at the district level. The only support required at this time is the approval of a domain name and then I can begin the pilot implementation process. I have listed a few links at the bottom of this proposal with suggestions on how to implement Google Apps for you to examine if you are interested.
Thank you for taking the time to review this proposal. I look forward to hearing from you and I look forward to hopefully piloting the introduction of this exciting technology in ########. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
Implementing Google Apps
Google Apps and Cloud Computing
Google Apps – Integration Plan for Higher Education
Matt Montagne’s Google Transition Site (with tutorials)
Matt Montagne’s Google Apps Student Support Site (with screencasts)
Scott Meech: Process of setting up Google Apps Education Edition at the district level