This started as a blog post but became very lengthy so i decided to devote a page of my blog to how I am implementing Google Apps for Education in my secondary school.
I have been using Google Apps for Edu for over 4 years with different classes and staff but decided when i returned to the classroom that the time was right for a full implentation. I have trialling GAE with ALL my classes since January this year and this page is devoted to how this has been set up, the lessons learnt and also the successes. It has been a huge success in underpinning a lot of the learning in my classroom and has finally given me the opportunity to have a paperless classroom
I dont believe to be an expert in Google Apps. Im not a Google Certified Teacher or Trainer but a Subject Leader who is charge of whole school ICT/E-Learning with a practical experience of implementing Google Apps in the classroom. There are various excellent guides out there inlcuding John Mclear and Ian Addison’s. If you are looking for training then i suggest you look no further than Zoe Ross, a former Head of ICT whose company DoDigital deliver a range of excellent training courses including Google Apps for Edu.
Over the next few weeks i will update this page with examples of what has worked and what didn’t. I will give examples of where i have used it in and out of the classroom and also where i intend to take Google Apps both in terms of ICT and across the whole school.
Part 1 – Seting up Google Apps Edu and the First Steps
As i aluded to in the introduction i have been using Google Apps Edu for over 4 years now. After an initial amazement of the tools available and the huge potential I took the step of uploading the whole of our school cohort to Google Apps including accounts for staff. I already had the domain registered which made things a little easier. Of course now Google offers the opportunity to register a domain name for around £10 which is well worth it. Should you already own the domain name then this needs to be verified. This can be cumbersome at times but with persistence it does work
In hindsight i regret uploading the whole of the cohort. In some ways it has worked with the groups I have used Google Apps with over the years and they have been very engaged using a number of the tools available. I settled originally on the same format as we had for our moodle which was firstname.lastname@example.org with staff eg email@example.com. Of course this left around 1000 accounts untouched for 4 years even though i had between 400-500 users using Google Apps over 4 years including a handful of staff.
At present my Managed Service provider does not offer full integration with Google Docs and our staff use parts of the VLE and the Outlook interface. This is the same for students. With this in mind Gmail is currently unavailable for students but for some staff. The ability to turn on some parts of Google Apps is a great tool.
After much procrastination and debate with some great feedback from twitter I settled on the same usernames from the domain but prefixed with the year they started school to ensure easy management of users in the future. For example if John Smith started our school in 2010 and his user name on the network was J.Smith9 his user account for
Looks a little confusing but in our case it works really well. I just used the RANDBETWEEN() function in Excel to generate random passwords prefixed with 3 letters. After creating an excel file with the appropriate headings I then created and uploaded the students by user group one at a time.
In order to manage the users I created sub organsiatrions for each Year group and also for staff. This made it easier to manage users especially with the management of the services available in Google Apps Edu.
In our school all students have an email account provided by our VLE. Rather than replace this and becase it is hosted on a different domain, i decided to turn gmail services off to avoid the confusion. At present this hasn’t caused any problems but it does give me the opportunity to turn the service on in the future should we choose to have single sign on.
At present we have restorcte users to the following services
Getting started in the classroom
Prior to rolling out Google Doc my students used Google documents and presentations when we were working in class.
Google Docs have a great feature which allows you to control who has access to the document; which can be for specific users or for anyone with the link. Within this option you can also restrict users to either view or edit the document.
I have found in small groups the document sharing works really well, however it takes a while for students to adjust with other users editing the same line or work. The colour coding option is a good feature where you can see who has added to the document and where. As Google Docs has evolved over time the Comment features have improved and I have begun to use this for marking and also AFL activities.
The Revision history is also a good tool to review the changes made to a document. This is something we are looking at in more detail with the move to project based learning activities in school.
The only downside of the Google Document sharing option is the amount of users able to edit at the same time. At the most I have had 10 users on the same document editing and adding in real time. Any more than this and the document freezes and crashes.
Another way of introducing the concept of Google Presentations is using the share and comments tool. As with docs I felt that the best way to introduce students was to create a presentation with individual slides for each student which they could then use to add ideas / their work. We then used comments within the class for peer reviews and set 3 www what went well and also 3 RBI even better ifs. Then students added their own targets. Last year my year 13s did this between 2 classes and also connected with students at @misterels school to do the same. This was a great success and enabled students to share their work to. Wider audience and also see what other students were producing.
I have been using google forms for a number of years now. Initially for a student quiz for world book day and then for feedback on a 3d game my students had created on esafety. The ease of use is a big plus point and also the time stamp when each one is completed. At present I’m moving towards a project based curriculum and I wanted students to be able to review their own and each others using a form. Rather than having different forms I settled on one which I saved as a template that students use and then customise the design. In some cards students have added other questions but the principle remains the same. The beauty of this is that students can review and get feedback on their work at any point by not leaving their desk if the classroom.
Later in this series I wicexplire the different ways we gave used spreadsheets and forms across all Jey stages including flubaroo for self grading quizzes.
My work on google sites is still in its early stages. At present I have one which is the welcome screen when users log into google apps and then click on the area they need to use. I need to add other options but generally students either use the docs or aviary.
As part of the #digitalstudies curriculum students will be creating. Site which will be there digital portfolio which will showcase not only their final products but also their planning, drafts, feedack and revaluations with a section for the diurnal badges they have been awarded. The design will be left to students as we try develop their HTML skills in year 7 but hopefully they will have a page for each of the years in key stage 3 for digital studies and then extra pages for other subjects / work be that in or out of school.
There are lots of different ways in which both I and my students gave successfully used google apps with a number of failures along the way but they will come in the next update of this series. If you have any experiences you wish to share or comment on any of the ideas above please comment on this post.