This week Chris Penny and I had held a Google workshop for educators. We had students from education, accounting and even government. Despite the variety of fields, Google tools could be used to increase productivity, improve collaboration, and support student learning. What makes web 2.0 tools like Google apps so valuable? There is:
1. Nothing to install.
2. Nothing to buy.
3. Access from any connected device.
Students were introduced to Google Drive as a place to create and store documents in the cloud and collaborate effortlessly and paperlessly. They also learned the vast number of ways to refine their Google search to yield better results. The week ended with students using the tools they used throughout the week to create their own Google site for their classroom. Using a project-based approach, the students became the teachers demonstrating tools and their application in the classroom.
This week was also my introduction to the Nexus 7 tablet, the Android tablet created by Google. This small, lightweight tablet was excellent for managing Google tools from anywhere with an Internet connection. This device has potential as a contender for mobile computing in education.
What amazed me most about this week is how quickly teachers can embrace and apply technology with the right support and encouragement. Many of our students had little experience using Google tools and by the end of the week, many of them integrated multiple tools to complete their final projects. This is encouraging for the future of technology integration if teachers are provided with, and take advantage of, training but more importantly, support from administration and fellow teachers. Creating supportive learning environments allows teachers to work collaboratively and see each other as resources.