When talking about the newest buzzwords associated with 21st century literacy, Google Apps is always included because of it's accessibility, ease of use and of course it's price, which is absolutely nothing!!! So what is Google Apps? At this point, I don't think there is anyone in the world who isn't aware of Google and the word "apps" stand for applications or computer programs. In this entry I am going to limit the apps to the three that I think are the most useful to you as a teacher, Blogger, Sites and Docs.
The word blog is short for "web log" and the possibilities for educators are virtually limitless. Blogs can be created by teachers for students, such as this one that I used when teaching computers here at the middle school, used as a tool for student writing and collaboration (ideas here), or accessed as resources by teachers looking for fresh instructional ideas. Two education blogs that are worth reading include Kathy's Schrock's "Kaffeeklatsch" and David Warlick's "Two Cents Worth". One other site worth checking out is David Warlick's blogmeister site where teachers can set up classrooms and monitor their students' conversations and comments. Dina has used this site in her classroom and may have some insight on how it can be used. Google's Blogger application is free to use and very simple to setup. Click on the link above to get started today!
Google Sites is the easiest way to make information accessible whether it be for your students or if your students are creating something for you or the class. Using sites, students can work together to add file attachments, and information from other Google applications (like Google Docs, Google Calendar, YouTube and Picasa). Creating a site is as easy as editing a document, and you always control who has access, whether it's just yourself, your students, or the entire school. You can even publish your site for all the world to see. The best part is that the Google Sites web application is accessible from any internet connected computer and is completely FREE! Check out this site to see how other teachers are using this web application to their benefit!
Google Docs is essentially Microsoft Office but with a twist. It's an easy to use web-based word processor, spreadsheet and presentation editor that enables you and your students to create, store and share instantly. Google Docs also allows users to collaborate online in real time on the same project. You can create new documents from scratch or upload existing documents, spreadsheets and presentations that were previously created with Microsoft Office. There's no software to download, and all your work is stored safely online and can be accessed from any computer. This eliminates the need to carry around a flash drive all the time or e-mail files back and forth. Below is a great video where teachers and students discuss how they use Google Docs throughout the course of their school year. After watching the video, check out these ideas on how you can use Google Docs in your classroom!So now you know a little more about some of the web applications that are available to you on your quest to educate. To get started all you need is a Google account which can be set-up here. After that you are on your way to becoming a technology guru!