Aug 5, 2011

Connect, Collaborate, Create

I had the pleasure of leading a Google course this week for an outstanding group of educators.  It is typical for these courses to have a group of co-learners with varying technical skill sets but they all shared the desire to learn and push themselves to new levels. Additionally, I often express the adoption of social media in three stages - connect, collaborate, and create. This week I realized that same model applies when adopting Google technologies for the classroom.  I wanted to share the growth of my class and explain some of their successes.

The opportunities seem endless in this category but a few favorites emerged this week. Many teachers chose iGoogle and were excited to see how this tool would allow them to bring the world of web information to one place.  The diversity of news sources, blogs, and other gadgets proved to be of high value when selecting iGoogle as a course project for them.  Even more, the ability to share individual tabs from iGoogle with a community of learners, parents, departments, etc. as an information portal filled a need for many of the course participants.  Other winners in the Connect category include Gmail for personal mail and Picasa for curating pictures and editing with Picnik.
Bonus: The Google Educators community and newsletter.

Google Groups proved to have high value for teachers this week as well.  The idea that information can be posted to a group, allow for commenting, and that information would then be delivered via email to the group members made sense. Another standout has been Google Docs.  The full range of sharing and privacy features adds functionality and fluidity to school projects plus the new discussions feature kicks the collaboration potential up a notch. 
Bonus: Flubaroo for self grading quizzes in Google Docs

Google Maps and Earth are always big winners in this category - for obvious reasons.  I am excited to see that more teachers are exploring and building blogs.  Six years ago when I started running professional development courses there was a fear of these tools.  It has been a pleasure to see teachers adapt and grow with technology. While they are aware of the implications, they are not afraid to use Blogger because it can model positive technology use and communication for their students.
Bonus: The Google Earth Sightseer newsletter for new ideas.

A final thanks to the all the great educators in the course this week, here are a few who are on Twitter: @squenzer @lilrachel27 @csheidy1397 @lapcsreeze

You can read more about the courses at

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