Friday, April 19, 2013

Using Google School in Your School

In a recent article posted at John Post quotes, Karie Kuras, a district technology supervisor from Dardanelle Elementary says, "It's like a standard gmail or google docs account but secure."  This is true, but it is actually so much more than this.  I first encountered google schools last year when I was asked by my district's Director of Technology, Ron Watson, to pilot it along with about 5 other teachers.  Having had experience using gmail and google docs for over 5 years, I gladly accepted the challenge.  I could finally sync the email with my phone using the gmail app and I'd be able to share all my google docs and presentations with students without handing out my personal email or having to use a proxy account set up to be forwarded to my personal email.  It was awesome. In fact, there were even some "added perks."

I could now link my google sites (my school websites, for example, to my school gmail account too!  In addition, I was able to save certain google maps for easy retrieval in the account so I could bring them up to have students look at them during class.  In addition, my personal google calendar would now sync with my professional one, so I would always know where to be and when without having to take the often forgotten added step to do so.  In addition, I now could sign on jointly to my personal and work accounts at the same time.  So, when home looking at the status of a group project on a google doc, I could observe how students had progressed and comment on it within their shared doc without having to log out of my personal gmail or stop my blogging.  It was awesome!  It is awesome!

Something odd, but beneficial.  If a school uses google, it doesn't need to change their employees actual email addresses.  So, if everyone is use to a certain email address and it is already all over letterheads, posted on the school's district site, and on business cards, there is no need to change it.  I started with the email address and it is still mine.  When I login in, I actually login into google with that full email address. It's odd, but it works.  I can see this as useful for the administrators at schools.  

Regardless, google for schools is awesome and if students are also given screen names through schools, you can then talk about having chats with students during class online or during lunch, etc...  The possibilities here are endless.