During this unit I spent a significant amount of time using Google Apps, and I can easily say that I have learned quite a bit from the experience.  I did come to realize that there are many practical uses for my classroom that I can begin to implement immediately, as well as in my personal life if I so wished.  Any and all knowledge I can gain from learning about technology is valuable to me and this unit was especially useful.  The amount of freedom and self reliance I was able to exercise also led me to discover I am beginning to become more aware of my ability to create and manipulate web based tools.


In terms of being a more efficient educator, Google tools and resources offer some incredibly effective assistance in different ways. Very soon into creating my own Google site I realized that this tool has many of the same abilities that Blackboard uses.  Working for a district that uses Blackboard give me first hand knowledge of its capabilities and I must say Google sites is much more user friendly.  I loved being able to create forms that I can have parents access without having to use their children’s login information.  I can communicate how I want and when I want with Google sites, as opposed to Blackboard, which I find versatile but restrictive in terms of creative freedom for teachers.  I also am able to use Google sites without having to worry about it being down for days at a time for maintenance purposes or debugging like Blackboard seems to experience frequently.


I also think that Google Apps takes out the middle man (Blackboard) and I can have more direct control and contact with students and parents.  For example, I can create any form, page, or style on my site to convey virtually anything instead of being limited to the rigid structure of Blackboard.


Finally, I also learned that I can be a fairly capable user of web based tools, especially compared to my abilities even just a few months ago.  Embedding the calendar and the form were especially trying steps that caused me to do a lot of problem solving and reviewing of steps in order to get it right.  The fact I was able to figure this out on my own made me feel that I am getting accustomed to “existing” in the cyber world and being an active participant and creator.


Google Apps:

Google Feature:

Notes:

Classroom Integration Ideas:

Email

Useful for linking multiple accounts.

Ability to chat within email.

Multitudes of users.

Ability to create set sessions for chatting about assignments.

Calendar

Easy to import multiple calendars such as Outlook and iCal into one calendar.

Can be used to post due dates and important reminders.

Talk

Real time chat/video chat/ voice conversations.

Ability to create set sessions for chatting about assignments.

Docs

Many uses, making class sites, forms, blogs, etc.

Can be used for posting information, notes, handouts, etc and students can post assignments.

Sites

Can be used for class sites in order to bring all of the above apps together into one cohesive site.

Can be used for class sites in order to bring all of the above apps together into one cohesive site.


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