Archive for April, 2011

Google apps is a free website with tools in communication, collaboration, and customization. It is starting to be seen more and more in education throughout the country. The explanation is simple: it is a web based program that is accessible anywhere, anytime with internet access. It benefits teachers, administrators, parents, and students.

Calendars can be shared so that if there is a last minute change in the schedule everyone can see that the change has been made. Students can write papers, work on spreadsheets, or do a powerpoint presentation and rather than turning them in and waiting for the teacher to grade every student’s piece of work before they get feedback, the teacher adds comments right to the original document and the student can see the revisions immediately. Teachers and students don’t have to worry about losing papers or trying to stay organized because with google apps everything is organized for you.

Schools that use google apps often set up every student with a gmail account. If a student has a question on an assignment they can email the teacher or even email their peers.If the teacher uses a powerpoint presentation during class, the students have access to it outside of class to help them on assignments, studying for tests, etc.

Google groups can be created for teachers to keep in contact with one another as well as parents and teachers. It is often hard to work around the schedules of both teachers and parents to fit in times for conferences. With google apps they can choose to do video conferences, conferencing through groups, or discussing back and forth through gmail.

Here is a video I found on youtube about how one middle school in Dorchester, Massachusetts utilizes google apps:


Social media in education

Reading Henry Jenkin’s piece on Confronting Challenges of Participatory Cultures: Media Education for the 21st Century really got me thinking about why it is important to include social media in the classroom and how best to do so. There is evidence that media opens up amazing opportunities for students. Here is one example from the article above:

“Blake Ross (McHugh,2005) was 14 years old when he was hired for a summer internship at Netscape. By that point, he already had developed computer programming skills and published his own website. Frustrated by many of the corporate decisions made at Netscape, Ross decided to design his own web browser. Through the joint participation of thousands of other volunteer youth and adults working on his project worldwide, the Firefox web browser was born” (Jenkins P.5).

Often a student’s favorite thing to do on the computer is banned from the classroom. Social media is frowned upon in schools because it is often seen as a waste of time and irrelevant to what should be taught. The truth is that it can’t possibly be a waste of time when students and teachers alike engage in it on a daily basis. Instead of saving social networking for after school why not find a way to incorporate it in school? Students will enjoy it, they will get involved because they want to, and there are so many ways to make social media relevant in the classroom.

I found a blog on Classroom 2.0 regarding “How social media saved winter break.” This blog post lists 10 ways to incorporate 5 different social networking sites into learning including facebook, twitter, youtube, wordpress, and flickr. One of my favorites is to create a facebook group for your class where you can post homework assignments and students can ask questions. You could create notes asking questions about a topic and students could do some research, respond to the questions, and discuss them. Students are going to use their social networking sites whether it is banned in schools or not. They are experts at finding loopholes in the system.. so give them a way to include something they enjoy!