It was really fun to read Head in the Clouds from friend and ICT integrator Michael, who works in a large secondary school here in Sydney. I always enjoyed visitng Michael, and admired the sensible way that he adopts Web 2.0 and cloud computing in great ways to support the learning of the students at his school.
Over the past few days, it’s been very hard to contain my excitement over Google’s recent moves to add all the applications from standard Google accounts to Google Apps for Education. While the core suite of applications – Mail, Docs and Calendar – are extremely useful and have put my school on the Web 2.0 map, I’ve been so disappointed that other Google apps like Reader, Picasa and Blogger have been off-limits for so long.
Sure, students can create their own Google accounts, you say? Having worked with frustrated teachers and students who all-too-easily forget usernames and passwords, I’ve really come to appreciate the ability to control accounts as the school administrator and have kids quickly online and using the tools they need to get ahead.
Now when all of my students log in, they get immediate access to an incredibly powerful set of Web 2.0 applications without the need to enter a single name or additional password! Exploring these is going to take some time, but it’s great to know they’re there for anyone to use.
As a technology expert/administrator, Michael see this the use of these Web 2.0 Google tools as providing a level playing field for all teachers and students.
I also use Google Apps to power my own learning and my work with my PLN (though not at school). Just last evening the invincible Teacherman79, popped up in my Gtalk, to chat briefly about some stuff he is preparing for a College class he is teaching in Virtual Worlds. Jeff is a middle school gifted and talented teacher in Montana, and he just wanted someone to run a ‘critical friend’s’ eye over a handout he was preparing to facilitate kids choosing their OWN way of learning pathway.
You guessed it – he shared his Google Doc with me, and within minutes we were editing that document together ~ and enjoying working! Realtime collaboration is very powerful.
In case you didn’t know, here are some of the most interesting features of the new version of Google documents:
- Real time collaboration: See updates from other collaborators as they edit the document.
- Higher-quality imports: More consistent imports from your desktop into Google Docs.
- Chat with other collaborators: As you make your edits, you can chat with other document editors about the changes, from within the document.
- Ruler: Google documents have a ruler for setting margins, indentations, and tab stops.
There is so much that teachers and students can do using Google tools these days to collaborate within their classrooms, and beyond their classrooms.
Now, if only more technology experts/adminstrators would take the view that Michael does ~ adapting to and adopting cloud computing ~ instead of locking down machines and networks to proprietory systems and software within a walled garden.