Early last summer, when I began to research emerging technologies to use in the classroom, I signed up for a free Google account. I had long grown tired of my Yahoo email client and Gmail drew me in. I had never used any Google applications other than just their basic search engine, but that was all about to change.
Once I became comfortable using Gmail (which I absolutely love by the way), I began to explore other Google apps that would benefit me in the classroom. You could spend days just reading on all of the different tools Google offers, but I chose to focus on learning just a few: Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Reader, and Blogger.
Over the past year, I have learned a lot by using these apps in both my personal and professional life. In order to give you a sense on just how valuable each of these has proven to be, I will be writing a separate blog post on each.
I would like to point out that I have been using these Google apps to collaborate with a relatively small subset of teachers and students. I am hoping this will continue to expand to include at least a majority of teachers in my building. Somewhere down the line, I hope to speak with our IT Director to consider looking into Google Apps for Education. This is a FREE suite of communication and collaboration tools that is meant to replace expensive software-driven Microsoft applications. Each student and faculty is given access to Gmail for their email client (much better than Entourage!) as well as Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Wave, Google Sites, Google Video, and Google Groups. In May, Google announced that other apps including Blogger, Google Reader, iGoogle, and YouTube would be integrated into the Google Apps for Education suite this Fall as well.
While I do think this is where many schools are heading, I admit that I am not quite there yet. Give me Gmail and Google Calendar now, but as I’ll explain in my next post why I’m not quite ready to abandon my Microsoft Office suite for Google Docs. Give me another year or two, and I’ll be “all in.”