Google Apps for Education (GApps) takes all of Google's powerful collaboration tools and puts them within a "walled garden," where local school districts can determine who has access to what in terms of GApps services, and to what degree GApps users can communicate with others inside & outside the district. All activity can be monitored, managed, and archived. See a comprehensive description of Google Apps for Education, or watch the 12 minute video to the right to learn more.
Beginning with the 2012/2013 school year, LISD rolled out Gmail accounts for all secondary students. At the time of initial implementation, the need and focus was on providing secondary students with a much-needed way to get work to and from home, and to and from teachers, and so our instruction and training centered around the email service provided by Google: Gmail. However, Gmail is but one service of many in the Google Apps for Edu suite, and so when we created secondary student Gmail accounts, we were really creating GApps accounts, complete with services like Gmail, Google Docs/Drive, Google Calendar, & many more. Many students don't yet realize the true potential of the services they have at hand through GApps, and teachers, without access to GApps accounts themselves, had limited confidence in integrating GApps into their instruction. So...
1. Gain valuable feedback from teachers on how Gmail compares to OWA in terms of functionality, ease of use, and so on.
2. Provide teachers with access to other GApps services, including Google Docs and Google Drive
3. Evaluate the technical and instructional challenges involved in supporting a possible larger scale implementation
Google Docs and Google Drive give users the ability to create MS Office style documents in the cloud, without having anything installed on their local computer. With no more than the required web-enabled computer, students can create, edit and access their files from almost anywhere, including home and school. This is particularly useful because unlike other solutions for working on the same file between home and school (USB/thumb/flash drives, Dropbox, email), Google Docs/Drive users never have to worry about compatibility issues between computers or programs: if they've got access to the internet, they've got access to their file! No more "cannot open file" messages! Also, at any point, users can download their files as MS Office documents!
The only catch? She needed a GApps account so they could share commenting rights with her. Once that happened, she was off, and there has been no turning back! Other teachers in the LHS English department, including Mrs. Leavell, have also begun using Google Docs/Drive with their students, and Mrs. Hoham has even submitted a Google Drive proposal for August PD!
Folks' Google Apps Links (Delicious)
LISD GApps Student Resources Page
Google Apps Education Training Center
Lesson Plan Search – Google in Education
GApps Student Intro (~2 Min)
Gmail - The Basics (~5 Min)
Gmail - Beyond the Basics (~15 Min)
Google Docs & Drive - The Basics (~24 Min)
Google Docs & Drive - Beyond the Basics (~17 Min)
Folks' Google Apps Resources on Weebly (in construction!)