Friday, February 17, 2012

Googleizing with Google Apps for EDU

In 2010, I initiated Google Apps for Education at our district. Since then, I have been gradually deploying additional applications. Yesterday, I deployed: Digication, Grockit, and Aviary. Those these apps are not Google products, they do connect to Google accounts through the OpenID and single sign-on features I have enabled.

Though I am not in denial with my staff's use of Google Apps, the staff is gradually using each application more. Unfortunately, with dated technology and limited lab space, the staff has a series of fairly legitimate excuses for why they have not utilized such features. And, in a rural district, the knowledge and relevancy base is already limited. However, I believe the latest three apps I deployed have the power to motivate more staff members to use Google's features.

Aviary is comparable to Photoshop's FREE to Google Apps for Education users. It gives users the ability to make podcasts, create vectors, add filters, create filters, and create audio files (and embed them in various Websites). And, unlike other programs, Aviary connects to Google Docs so all files created are synced into a user's Google account. Within the audio field, users can choose from a sampling of tracks to provide background and interlude music for podcasts. Aviary is accessible and easy to use for ALL.

Grockit is great for counselors. With the single sign-on feature, students can login to Grockit through their Google account. Within Grockit, students and teachers have access to an academy, SAT/ACT prep, and AP prep. The prep includes videos, study rooms where users can chat and interact with others in their topic area, and quizzes. Quiz scores are synced with their Google accounts so all data can be submitted to the corresponding teacher.

Digication is a space for ePortfolios. Users have the ability to select from 3 templates (one is user-generated), of which one is for K-12 education. In the education template, there is a space for adding modules and resumes and other features desired on a portfolio. This site cuts out the leg work that often deters teachers from ePortfolios. Additionally, Digication can be used to create simple teacher Websites. And, once again, users can access this site for free from their Google account.

These three applications have the ability to bring others to our Google Apps for Educators account when they may have just skipped past it in the past. However, the road ahead is still long. Unfortunately, technology is not viewed as a part of the classroom by all yet. Rather, it is viewed as a treat or something to do only in the confines of a lab. The notion that technology is an everyday thing and an everyday tool as common and routine as the desk is still a distant concept. It is this concept that needs to continue to be pushed forward by administrators in order to move classrooms ahead.

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