Online resources

During this time, there are many lists being shared that can help you find quality resources to support online learning in your school.  We look for institutions that we know produce reliable and authentic information, and are collating a page of links to resources, guides and useful information HERE for ease of access. We will continue to update this page as we find new resources to share.

 

Learning professionally with Google+ Communities

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Google educator Kimberley Hall recently presented a full day workshop for School Library Assoc of Victoria. For some delegates it was a glimpse into the possibilities of the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) tool-base, for others it was an opportunity to enhance their existing knowledge with the leadership of a dynamic trainer.

Educational institutions, from primary to secondary schools, through to universities, are now using GAFE, so skill in managing the range of tools such as Google Docs, Tables, Presentations and the indispensable Google Forms with confidence is essential. The value lies in streamlining and managing workflows and documentation within the library, plus the ability to be a learning support resource for students.

Ample support material is available online and Google for Education is a good place to start.  The sites of trainers such as KimberleyChris Betcher and Jim Sill are just a few of the training sites bursting with tutorials and ideas.

Google tools range from Docs, to search strategies, to Google maps, Youtube videos and the new Google Photos. However, learning is a social process and occurs readily through active engagement with peers.  Learning, for all of us, is about collaboration and the boundaries preventing this from happening have disintegrated.  Joining Google Communities is recommended as a collaborative learning space that will put you in touch with like-minded professionals.

Teacher librarian, Heather Bailie, in her recent blog post Get connected with Google+ – a digital artefact presented a video profile of a ‘connected educator’ that includes instructions on how to get started with Google Communities. Whilst mailing lists have been used as professional points of exchange for many years, it’s time to consider moving onto tools such as Google+ Communities.
Some groups are private but most are public and open to all comers.

We are presently trialling Google Communities as an alternative option from Facebook discussion groups for senior students.  The interface is much less distracting than Facebook and I believe it’s is only a matter of time before Google Communities becomes a common learning tool as schools extend their use of the GAFE suite.   Here’s an opportunity to put yourself ahead of the curve – be courageous and move on from mailing lists!

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Google Forms – new look, versatile tool

Google-Apps-640x350Forms are one of the most useful tools in the Google toolkit. For some time, however, users have been looking for more functionality and an improved appearance in the product.  It’s finally here with the recent announcement that Google Forms has a range of new themes and options, including the ability to customise the theme with your own image.  These changes have really lifted the appearance and make them a great deal more appealing.

New to Google Forms?  This Tour of Google Forms is prior to the themes upgrade but gives a clear introduction of the main features for the uninitiated.

Forms have a multitude of uses from data gathering, questionnaires, competitions, analysis of an embedded video, surveys, self-graded tests, short story competitions … the list is endless.  Google educator Molly Schroeder’s examples of Using Google Forms is a source of inspiration, although once you start using them you won’t be short of ideas yourself.

At the recent Melbourne Google Summit the professional conversations around the use of Google tools was inspiring.  With so many schools now using Google Apps for Education, the Summit was an ideal place to pick up practical tips that could immediately be applied to the classroom.   In this video Chris Betcher, another leading Google educator and generous sharer of knowledge, explains some of the lesser known, innovative features in Google Forms.  Chris’s Google Summit resources site is packed with ideas and assistance.

A colleague who attended the Google Summit with me has been ‘set on fire’ with the functionality of Chrome extensions Doctopus and Goobric, using them to manage the workload of senior Maths and Accounting classes. It is certainly worth exploring Google Apps for Education and tapping into the resources of the many knowledgeable educators associated with it.

Put the Google Drive Blog in your RSS feed reader to keep posted on the constant improvements.  The Google Educast podcast on the Edreach Network is also a favourite of mine for keeping in touch with Google Apps for Education news, ideas and application to the classroom.  So much to learn, thank goodness for our Personal Learning Networks!

Header image: http://frankbennett.co.uk/