You can’t walk around ISTE without tripping over a session about Google and their offerings for education. And it is not a surprise to me because it has been the same at most conferences I have been to this year. At the JEA national conference, I learned a ton of awesome ways to use Google Forms and Docs to help me set up and run my paper staff. The thing about Google is that their tools just work and they are easy for teachers and students to use. If you are a teacher…or if you are breathing air and thinking, you probably use Google all the time.
Consolidating tools makes sense and having tools that work with each other also seems like a no brainer. But a tool is just a tool, it is how you use that tool that makes the difference. And, as I said in an earlier post, I am here for methods. I want to use what I have more effectively. Adding more tools seems clunky and inefficient to me.
The first session I attended today was Google Hangouts 101. I attended because I have used hangouts in my personal life (if you play MMO’s and have group members in other places, there is nothing like a hangout to yell for help from your healer) But…. That is probably not the best use of this tool in the classroom, although some people on the general chat in WOW desperately need the help of an English teacher.
Sometimes finding different methods to use a tool you are already comfortable with are quick ways to add to your practice. For instance, I have often had authors in my Baltimore City Schools classroom via the Penn/Faulkner Foundation (p.s. if you haven’t checked that out, you should — it is the in-class visit resource I know of). I host authors in my classroom 2 or 3 times a year, which is great. But… my kids are nervous and I think they could get more out of the visit if they had them more often and got used to the process. Google Hangout — boom. Instant visit. That is recordable. That has a ton of interactive feature. I can take notes and live stream them on the screen. They can come back to it and reflect on how it went, so that when a live person comes they are really and truly getting the most out of the session.
Also, Google has come up with a series of virtual field trips through Connected Classrooms that provide access to places and people that students normally don’t get a chance to interact with.
The second workshop I attended was about managing digital workflow with Google Apps. More on that later.
A Note ::
I am blogging about every session I attend on Sanderling to help share what I am learning at ISTE for all the people in our PLN who couldn’t make the conference or are at different sessions. If you would like a copy of my notes from each session, find me on Sanderling: @thebookeater or Twitter: @sarahenschell.
We would also love to hear about what you have done and seen here at ISTE, so please share with the Sanderling community!