Tonight was another great night during #eci831. Michael Wacker visited the class and did a phenomenal job of showing the various things that have changed or are available with google apps for education. Michael is a google certified teacher and works for Ed Tech Team Inc. and was able to show us a variety of different things that are available with Google Apps for Education.
I really like Google Apps. As a teacher, I used them to build a google site for my courses to share materials and put up information about upcoming assignments and due dates. Students shared documents with me reducing the paper transfer and it was easier to mark and provide feedback. In the school, we used Google Sites for students to create ePortfolios and the staff used google docs for staff meetings and sharing of other information such as their PLC work. I’ve used Blogger a bit for blogging and our staff used the google calendar to share and organize the events for the school. In the short period of time, Jeremy Black put together a great post that covers most of the details about the presentation. His excitement is almost palatable as he describes the different things that took place tonight – the post is VIBRATING with excitement!
Drinking from the Fire Hydrant
I remember someone describing that the learning that is packed into a workshop about technology was like drinking from a firehose. Now, I think it’s more like trying to drink from the fire hydrant.
There is just SOOO much information and SOOO many things that can be done. I know that just tonight there were a couple new things that have just been rolled out with the Google Apps that I would have loved to have had as a teacher such as the drawings option and the different ePortfolio templates and the links in the documents to do searches and ….. and…. and….! BOOM! FFFSSSSTTT!
Focus, Focus, Focus
You can’t do it all!
This post by Greg Garner at gettingsmart covers 5 key points that people need to remember about being connected. Each of them is important and sometimes are overlooked and forgotten in the rush to get connected and remain connected. I know that in my podcast about time management, I mentioned the post by Penille Ripp that deals with being connected and some of the downsides that don’t often get discussed. One of the things that I have to constantly remind myself is not to worry about what other people are doing but to focus on where I am and what I am doing. Why am I connecting? If you look at just the flow of educational information on twitter, never mind any other social media site, it is OVERWHELMING!
Like trying to DRINK from a fire hydrant.
Focus on what your goals are for your own learning.
Focus on what it is you want to do in your teaching.
Focus on the learning that the students are doing.
Technology does have the WOW factor. When introduced to something with as many possibilities as what is available in something like Google Apps for Education, it can be hard NOT to try and drink from the hydrant!
Refocus on the people that you are working with – what will help them?
Refocus on the students that you teach and their learning – why/how will it help?
Refocus on the goals you have for your own learning – why/how does it fit?
As Greg Garner says,
Why you’re connected matters. Be mindful of the amount of time you connect online versus offline. Are you connecting to escape the world around you? Or to augment and share it? Are you connecting for your benefit and gain? Or so that you can leverage your connections on behalf of your students and colleagues?
Don’t let the technology and being connected disconnect you from the people around you or from your own goals.
Learning isn’t is a race – it’s a lifetime process of change.