I know this is my first post in ages, there are lots of posts I plan on doing it’s the usual finding time to write them.
So, the one I wanted to write the most is about Google Apps for Education. Having been a huge fan of Edmodo (www.edmodo.com) and used it for over a year in my previous school I was reluctant at first to try Google Apps and Classroom as I was so used to the brilliant features of Edmodo. As a side note, I still believe Edmodo is better but Google Apps is getting there.
The reason for Google Apps for Education is primarily email, all our staff needed a works email address using the domain name we own and Google Apps for Education offered a free solution.
The setup was a bit fiddly with having to alter MX records and verify ownership of domain but after a few days we were good to go. Since then it has been plain sailing all the way and very easy to use. I have set up accounts for all staff in school and the pupils in my class as we are trialling it this year.
One thing I quickly learned was how to create sub organisations and assign users, this is vital as I needed to turn off email for pupils for a while. I have to sub organisations, staff and pupils, staff can use everything and pupils can only use classroom and drive (online storage).
I introduced staff to it a few weeks ago with the hook of emails being used for school based communication and we are also giving parents our school based email addresses, therefore they have to login often. I have also created a ‘staff’ classroom as a place for tech support and CPD with the intention of staff being able to to post questions about how to do things there. This again is a hook to get them using classroom while I trial it with the pupils.
2 days ago I introduced Google Classroom to the pupils in my year 3 class and as you would expect they love it. The buzz at the moment is great as they have never encountered anything like this before. The challenge will be to keep it going and to encourage them to use it educationally and not just for chat.
Prior to me introducing it to the class I sent a letter out to all parents explaining what we were doing, offering a drop in sessions to chat and also offering to pull their child out, only 1 person has asked to withdraw their child from a class of 31 and I am hoping to change their mind in the future. A copy of the letter is below if needed.
So, what next, well it’s early days but over the coming months I will be introducing more features of Google Apps to staff and pupils, Drive and Calendar are both next on the agenda. My aim is to use Google Apps as a hub of collaboration and communication inside and outside school.
Oh yes and I am also keen to link up with other schools using Google Classroom. I hope Google continue to develop Classroom as it has the potential to be as good, if not better than Edmodo, for now though it has a long way to go.