Monday, November 10, 2014

Google Apps in the Classroom

I recently presented a session to some educators on Google Apps in the Classroom.  As I was preparing the presentation and gathering resources, I learned some new ideas, features, tips and pointers for various Google Apps.  I've decided to start a weekly series showcasing different Google Apps including Calendar, Drive, Classroom, Google+ and more.  I'll start each post with some basic how-tos regarding the application and then move on to other tips and ideas for using that application in education.  OH, one last note about this series - since my district is a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) school, I will be approaching the applications from this perspective.  I'll do my best to note if some of the tips and features do not work the same with a standard Google account, but I might miss something, so don't hold it against me.

Today, we're going to kick off this series with commonly asked questions about GAFE and Google Apps.

Which browser should I use?
According to Google, their apps are supported in Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.  You can also use other less common browsers, like Slepinir, Opera and Iron.  However, seeing that the Chrome browser is owned by Google, this is the top recommended browser when using Google Apps.

What is Google Apps for Education (GAFE)?
It is a collection of productivity applications provided for free to schools and other educational institutions.  These applications focus on the ability to communicate and collaborate.  School districts also gain the ability to administer all teacher and student accounts under one domain.  This provides a more secure environment for students to work in as they create documents, presentations and more in their Google account.

Why are schools choosing to use GAFE?
Districts choose to use GAFE for various reasons, but some of the top reasons include cost savings, privacy and security of data, collaboration abilities, and adoption ease.  For more on why your district should choose GAFE, check out these articles:

What tools are included in the GAFE for teachers and students?
The list is rather extensive, but the top tools are:
  • Gmail
  • Calendar
  • Drive
  • Docs
  • Sheets
  • Slides
  • Sites
In September, Google announced they will be adding Vault as an additional tool for GAFE schools and user storage space will jump from 30GB to 5TB.  (Update:  Google did increase storage space for education accounts to unlimited.  They are still working on adding Vault to education accounts.)  You may be asking yourself, "Is that a lot of space?" or "How much can I actually store with 5 Terabytes?"  Let's get some perspective...

One gigabyte (GB) equals a pickup truck filled with paper.  It takes 1,024GB to equal one terabyte (TB).  One terabyte is equivalent to 50,000 trees made into paper and printed.  You will be getting five times that, so you do the math.  Here's another view, on average the memory capacity of the human brain is equivalent to three terabytes.  So you're two terabytes short from calling your brain 'The Vault.'  Want to know more about data storage measurements?  Check out this infographic:

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