educators, I have been using Google and G Suite (since 2008) like I used my TV remote – point and click. With a little time, I have taken the opportunity to pause – and think how I use the growing eco-system of Google. Starting with the everyday browse, to more recent finds and investigations over the seven weeks.
Browser based decisions
I ended up with Chrome as my browser because of the ability to sync-browsers across PCs (in different locations) via my Google Account and having access to my customised the ribbon and passwords. That means where ever I am working, my ribbon is with me. (1)
Consequently, I found myself using gmail (previously my backup email) more often. Google Maps for navigation – it always had my home starting point and I could push my directions to my phone or share it with other drivers. (2)
For storage and sharing files, I used Dropbox. I finding that I am now using G Drive more often, sharing AND collaborating. Google Forms was always the goto solution for collecting feedback. Google Scholar a refined research search. I think you know this already about these products.
Last April I used Google Documents extensively to submit and receive feedback on my Coaching qualification final essay through comments. It was also the first time I used speech-to-text or “voice typing” extensively “CTRL+SHIFT+S” (3). If I am honest, I am professionally very curious as to the power of voice for education. I now use voice within various Google Products and for student feedback.
Now you are invested in Google. You may be looking for more than answers to your roadblocks via the Help Desks. Requiring a little more investment on your part, there is a plethora of courses via the Skillshop – with a section it’s very own Teacher Centre (4) and webinars via Education OnAir (5).
Onto getting started with Google Classroom – the most important insight is that it is tightly integrated with Google Suite. It allows learners to learn and operate within the Google ecosystem and therefore never leave the browser. Never having to leave the browser means it is OS agnostic (8), that means no file type issues, instant updates to files (stored in G Drive) and more. It means learners can even access Google Classroom on their games console (9). Which led to deeper exploration of Google Suite.
All the time – I knew that the Google ecosystem was vast. I didn’t realise just how vast, deep and broad. It is so big, that individual products have their own stores and marketplaces. It is deeply interwoven, with products criss-crossing over one another, more often integrating one another. An ecosystem that is constantly evolving, each product evolving where successful… and when not successful, it finds it way to the Google graveyard of products.
Is this giant, Google, the right giant for you. Or for your school? Maybe part of it? The one clear benefit of the cloud working and thinking, is that you data or work is anchored, it is for the most part secure.
As with many edtech decisions – the start is the wrong place to begin thinking about this question. Move ahead, where and what will you need in x months, years time. Will you have access to your files, your data, your work? Can it travel with you? Is it transferable?
Be aware of the Google graveyard. I have waved hello and goodbye to a handful of Google products – though I was not too heavily invested in any of them with the exception of ☠Google Reader☠ – I have been with Feedly since we broke up in 2013. It still hurts.
I have never taken the take to read the TV remote instructions. In truth, I probably still won’t. But lockdown has given me an opportunity to investigate and explore what Google is offering now beyond point and click, (ironically, I predict voice with replace tv remotes).
There will be more posts to come as Google keeps on surprising me.