The questions raised for this assignment are on reflection of Google Apps for educators. I have definitely learned about many of the ways that Google Apps can enhance an educator’s experience, but I have also enjoyed learning of new ways to utilize Google Apps in my current job, so I have chosen to reflect on both.
How could Google Apps help you to be more efficient?
As an educator Google Apps could make a world of difference with efficiency. With Google Drive teachers can have one central location for students to turn in assignments and an easy way to get feedback to students in a timely manner. Through Gmail there is a function to set reminders for follow ups based on emails, and I know as busy as teachers can be, reminders are always helpful. Gmail also allows for storage of student, parent and colleague contact information so it is all in one easy to find location. The calendar feature offers a share calendar category so teachers would be able to create multiple calendars and share them with different classes or groups. Plus the calendar offers an invite feature that teachers could use to schedules meetings with parents or fellow instructors. There is also the appointment slot feature that would make scheduling parent teacher conferences very easy; the parent looks at the schedule, finds an empty slot and schedules their appointment.
In my current job, Google Apps has helped me become more efficient. I was the first person in our company to start using Google Docs/Drive. I made multiple reports that I used to receive via fax become paperless. Managers can now log into Google Docs and enter data into a report instead of filling out a paper and faxing it to me. Plus it keeps all of the numbers in one place and I don’t have to enter data anymore. I also rely on my Google Calendars. I have my own personal calendar, one for our management office, one for the community outreach department and even a couple for some employees who want to share their whereabouts with me. I schedule meetings through the calendar and have it send me reminders for things that need to be done on a regular basis; like payroll. I also constantly use Gmail search to help me find emails.
How could Google Apps enhance collaboration between you, parents, and students?
Google Apps offers many tools to help with collaboration. The calendar features help teachers, parents and students with scheduling and appointment reminders. The biggest collaboration feature that Google offers is the free Google Sites feature. Google Sites could be used by teachers to create a class web page to keep students and parents informed of classroom happenings. The class site would be a great place to share student work with parents and host videos for continuing education on topics taught in class.
I have been working on a Google Site to help our Community Outreach Department collaborate and share ideas. I will be the first person at our company utilizing this feature of Google. I have gotten the office managers’ opinions about what would help them to have on this site. Through their suggestions I have been creating a site that will help them with community outreach. My hope is that it will be a joint effort and that the office managers will eventually start posting their own information and sharing their ideas with the group.
Did you learn something about Google or yourself that you didn’t know before?
Of the Google Apps that I researched I was the least familiar with Google Talk. That will be something that I try and research more in hopes of utilizing it in the future when it makes sense. I believe it might be something that I could use for live conversations, being that we have offices across the country.
Google has so many things to offer in the ways of apps to make educators’ lives, and the lives of all working professionals, much easier. I have been slowly dabbling in the Google world since beginning my position in my current job four and a half years ago. It is amazing how handy it has been. Often times, my colleagues have been very nervous about trying some of the apps that are offered, but once I share with them the convenience of using Google Apps, most of them have jumped on board. In my job Google has been extremely helpful so I can only imagine how much it would help teachers, who have so much to juggle between classes, students, parents, colleagues and administrations.