The Google Apps For Education summit kicked off this morning at Singapore American School with a keynote by Suan Yeo. His key-note set the tone for the educators in attendance in that he re-affirmed the fact that our students should not be learning the way we learned. With a smattering of Google promo videos thrown in to show how our world and education is evolving due to Google’s innovations. A solid keynote to set the next two days off on a Google path of exploration!
Next up was @pgreensoup and his session on Google Maps. My main goal is to leave a workshop with ideas churning around in my brain. And that’s what happened after Patrick’s session. Patrick had many examples of collaborative map making from his past schools and from other teachers around the world. I had used Google Maps with Grade 2 last year just to make simple directions from their home to school. I can see many more uses of Maps now for example we can embed a Map page in our classroom blogs to pin places where classes have gone on field trips throughout the year. With the ability to add pictures, videos, and text to each pin marker it will make for a pretty cool record of a class’ journeys during the school year. We ended off the session adding places of interest to a collaborative map of Singapore. Fun stuff!
View Singapore layover in a larger map
Following that, I headed to Technical Deployment of Google Apps for Education run by Joseph Tanpoco from Chatsworth International Schoool just to get the thinking behind other school’s planning and implementation of rolling out Google Apps. Joseph certainly knows his stuff and it was interesting to see how much work can go in to a school migrating to Google Apps. In my school’s case, we just did it and didn’t migrate any mail. I guess we were lucky!
After lunch, we headed to the packed session by Mark Wagner called Google Docs for Educators: The Core Magic and Inspiring Ideas. I’ll be honest and say it was a little basic for me but I liked his presentation style and amiable manner in presenting Google Docs. I did actually come away with some new learning too so that’s all I want from a session! I always used Wordle to get some data analysis from paragraph style answer in a Google Forms survey. Mark let me know there is a Gadget already included with Google Spreadsheet (called Word Cloud I found out after a little look-see) but I couldn’t get it to work today with a small test. I’ll get back to that again in the near future.
To wrap up the day, we headed to Jay Atwood to see the Teacher Dashboard in action. To be honest, it was the one session I knew I wanted to go to on this first day. Before we even kicked off Jay asked us the question: “What are the factors in initiating or what are the hurdles in moving to a paperless classroom?” Is it based on pedagogical reasoning or is merely logistical or, indeed, environmental? Something to chew on! On initial viewing, Teacher Dashboard looks like a Netvibes view of your students’ work in Google Docs. Basically students drop their work into a teacher made collection and it comes up on the teacher’s dashboard. Additionally, it shows blog posts and comments (on Blogger) and photos uploaded to Picasa. It was cool to see and I heard today that it merely costs $4 a student. Interesting.
Good first day behind us but I’m going to have a smalllll gripe about something that’s being bugging me for years now. Workshop titles and descriptions. These should not be poetic or whimsical. They should leave us in no doubt what level of attendees it’s aimed towards (intro, intermediate, advanced) and what subject/school examples of work will be pulled from. This Summit has put certain workshops in certain levels but there were a few grumbles about description and workshop titles being a tad misleading. Gripe over! Looking forward to tomorrow!