Saturday, September 12, 2015

Mumblings of a Google Enthusiast

Google Apps for Education is a powerful tool that keeps getting better and better. It's estimated that GAFE will reach 110 Million users by 2020!*  I don't ever recall reading a Tweet or blog post that stated, "I hate Google and GAFE is useless." (Nor do I go looking for such negativity!) All I ever see is how much GAFE has enhanced teaching. I see tons of ways other teachers have found to incorporate technology in their classrooms. I see many examples of how this powerful tool opens a world of interesting possibilities. 


I wonder . . . With all that GAFE can do, why are some still not embracing it? 
I think one reason is FEAR. Fear of technology. Fear is crippling. Fear of not knowing as much as the students we teach. These students are practically born with some sort of device in their hands! I can empathize with that fear. There is a learning curve that one must get through in order to embrace technology. That curve will get more and more difficult if we continue to put off becoming a digital educator. As highly educated individuals, it's not always easy to admit what we don't know. This truly takes humility. The problem is that the use of technology in the classroom is not going away. Those among us who have not yet embraced Google Apps For Education are going to have to more sooner than later. 


"Aaaarrrrgggg," some may be screaming. "I don't want to!" they may be ranting, or should I say, temper-tantruming. "I can't do it!" is the resultant feeling of defeat. However, what do we do or say when a student says, "I can't do it! I'm just not cut out for this!"? Do we just accept it and mark off that naysayer as helpless? Of course not! We do all we can to find out how to reach and help each and every student in our care, especially those with this inner self-struggle! We would not accept the I-can't-do-it attitude from our students, why do we accept it from ourselves?

"What can I do?" you may ask. Start simple, but please do start! Chisel out moments in your busy day to learn something new. 

Here's a list of simple ways to begin:
  • Start using Google Calendar - keep track of your appointments on your personal calendar. Create a class calendar and keep track of assignments and other projects. Share that calendar with your students so they can have access to those reminders too. Check out this 17 minute video to learn the basics: https://goo.gl/0vTISu
  • Start using Google Docs - Google Docs is like using Microsoft Word on steroids. Creating a document is easy. Not having to hit save because Google Docs automatically saves is a thing of the past. Not only that, if you access your Drive from home, what you started at school is there waiting for you. You can share documents with colleagues and students and work on them at the same time. (Hmm, try that with Microsoft Word! Well, don't because it won't work.) Check out this 29 minute video: https://goo.gl/E6CBY5 
  • Create a simple survey using Google Form. Survey your students to find out some of their favorite things. Check out this 6 minute video: https://goo.gl/kwkW0x (Google Form recently changed, but the basics are covered here.)
  • Make Chrome your default browser. Sign into Chrome on computers you use regularly and "Link" your profile. When you set bookmarks, those same bookmarks will show on all devices you sign into. Check out this 23 minute video: https://goo.gl/j78dms 
  • Sign into Google+ and join communities that support GAFE. Read posts, submit your questions, and express your apprehensions. Others are so willing to share their ideas to support you. Develop your PLN.
  • Speaking about PLNs, join Twitter, follow and connect with others who are successful at implementing GAFE in their classroom. Collaborating with other enthusiasts will make the Google bug easier to catch and spread. 
Another great site for enhancing your learning more about Google Apps for Education is provided by our District at https://goo.gl/okZzAf.

Dabbling in these areas is a good place to start to begin to feel a bit of comfort. Change that I-can't-do-it attitude to an I-will-try-it and I-will-succeed attitude instead. Chisel out a bit of time daily or weekly . . . before you know it, you'll be a Google enthusiast too!


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