Saturday, November 24, 2007

Google Apps for Your Domain in Education

“Google the Jelly Rolls;
Become a Jelly Rolls expert;
Connect to other Jelly Rolls fans;
Create your own content and contribute to the global knowledge base about the Jelly Rolls;
Plot the band's tour on Google Earth and create links on theKMZ file to your blog posts on the shows…”

instructs Google certified teacher, Kyle Brumbaugh, as he sets the scene for students to begin their own 21st century learning experience using powerful Web 2.0 tools. The Jelly Rolls are a fictional punk rock group, that Kyle uses to help students visualize the strategies and skills they will need to participate in Global Communication- a program aimed at making students better consumers of the content they have access to in an online world.

The interdisciplinary program includes Social Studies, Language Arts, and Health working on content standards using topics from Globalization to Digital Citizenship. The program provides an excellent model of integrating technology to produce a learning experience that would NOT have been possible without today’s technology. It also models a way to meet several of the new ISTE National Education Technology Standards for Students

Capuchino High School has adopted Google Apps for your Domain as one of several tools used to implement the Global Communications program. The program uses tools that expand the circle of influence these students have outside of their local community by helping them connect and collaborate. Google Apps for your Domain provides the school with several powerful Google tools, while allowing them to keep their own school domain name: and allowing them to keep control of the student accounts using a web based control panel.
According to Kyle,

“The kids have access to the Gmail function, with chat turned off, docs
and spreadsheets and their own homepage (iGoogle) that they can customize.
Wealso allow them to use the calendar function. The students also use this
e-mail account to create their 'blogger' accounts. Every kid in the Global
Communications classes has their own blog. The next step in the process
for some of them is to start to use reader to subscribe to feeds. “

On the opposite coast, a Vermont school district has taken a different approach to adopting Google Apps for your Domain. Rutland South Supervisory Union started with administration, then teachers, and are now piloting student accounts. Looking to move away from maintaining his own in house post office, network administrator, Jayson Casavant examined outsourcing. The Google Apps for Your Domain free education access resulted in a substantial savings per year for his district. He set up trial accounts for each of the admin team then sent several weekly "google tips" for them to experiment with. Prior to the roll out to staff, he built an extensive addition to our web site offering FAQ's, tips and instructions for the staff.
Jayson feels the change has been well received by his district...

“Having a web based solution has offered our staff more flexibility than our
previous client based solution. Docs and spreadsheets is widely used as are
email and calendaring. We have currently rolled out roughly 100 students as a
beta test and plan to offer email to more going forward. All in all we have
found Google apps to be user friendly and easily scalable to our needs.

Meanwhile, a group of students from Burr and Burr Academy's Research Lab are hoping their district will follow suit. Adam Provost's students have created a proposal for their school to adopt Google Apps for Your Domain. The solution is currently pending, but Adam and his students are hopeful that the school will consider their proposal. They feel that

“Google for Domains makes a wild amout of sense. Have a company offer a
school free email, a management console, collaboration tools, integrated web
2.0 services and spam filtering...for free ? Using your own domain name ?
This program saves schools money and also all configuration and maintenance
time. Reclaiming that money and personnel time alone... Good problems to
have in my book. Most schools are barely scratching the surface educating
kids for the present day. Embracing opportunities and technologies like this
in secondary education, discussing and modeling these technologies instead of
limiting their experiences will bring us closer to educating students for
the future - where they'll be working. “

Best of luck to these pioneering students and other schools as they venture into Google Apps for your Domain as vehicle to provide tools that transform the way we teach and learn.