Google Apps for Education (or as the “Tech Teachers” commonly say, GAFE) is used by
over 40 million students and teachers around the world. GAFE is a service that Google provides as an alternative to traditional office suites. Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides perform similarly to traditional word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications. However, because GAFE is web based, it offers more flexibility and mobility. The main difference between Google’s Apps and say, the Microsoft® Office Suite, is the primary focus on peer to peer and teacher to student collaboration. Google’s online platform may seem a little “leaner” than the full Microsoft options (you can’t add reflections, shadows, bevels and several other cool formatting features), but what it lacks in tools, it makes up for in online accessibility. Schools venturing into Flipped Classrooms, Blended Learning and Differentiated Instruction models will love how GAFE projects can be created and accessed from anywhere in the world (that has an Internet connection).
Twenty-first Century Teachers: Google’s suite is for you! Before you take the plunge, want to know what other teachers are saying about Google Apps in their classrooms? Read on. Below are five ways you can use GAFE to enhance your teaching tool belt.
- Google Classroom- Google Classroom is an app that is free for those with a GAFE account. It allows students to access assignments and collaborate with their peersand teachers. For example, if you’re teaching a unit on the water cycle, you may post a video which offers further explanation or an article that might pose a controversial idea about water conservation. This forum allows students to comment and pose questions to each other. Classroom also helps the teacher generate, administer and even grade tests or other objective- based assignments. (Wait. GAFE can grade tests?) Yes. It can!
- Real Time Feedback- One of the many benefits of Google Docs is that it allows more than one user to collaborate on a document at any time. It can also track whois using the document and identify who is making the changes. Teachers can use this function to offer feedback in the rough draft phase. For example, a teacher may instruct a student to “explain this further” or “omit this” by just accessing the document, highlighting information, and making notes in the comment section. Students don’t need to print their rough drafts, and teachers can simply access the documents from any computer at any time.
- Google Play- This online media resource is aimed at providing teachers with arichcatalog of learning content to enhance their lessons. Teachers can search bycategory, grade level, or recommendations from other educators. Google has partnered with educational outlets such as PBS and NASA to provide educational rich material. Each piece of content is pre-approved for school-appropriateness, so teachers can present with confidence!
- Challenge your Students- We all wish we had extra instructional time to provide more problem-solving opportunities and real-world experiences for students outside of the curriculum. But between the demands of standardized testing and new Common Core Standards, teachers are left with very little time. GAFE offers programs such as Made with Code, Doodle 4 Google, and Google Science Fair that students can access in their free time and work on at their own pace to engage in learning they may be passionate about.
- Virtual Field Trips with Google Maps– Though not limited to Google for Education subscribers, Google Maps is an often over-looked resource for exploring the Earth.Google Maps allows users to see the “street view” of major historical sites. Studying the Himalayas? Google Maps allows users to take an interactive trek through Khumbu, Nepal and even hear folklore and stories from the locals. Be sure to check out Google’s underwater adventures as well. Google has ventured into the depths of the oceans and started mapping the sea floor. All from the comfort of your laptop!
Still not convinced? Do you want more information on the Google Application Suite? The Teacher’s Academy recently launched the Google Apps Suite courses for professional development. For the most convenient and affordable professional development, you can learn the basics of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. We have a whole array of technology courses that are ready for your 21st century classroom.