google

A deluge of possibilities

When you come back from some time away, particularly when you’re wandering around beautiful landscapes like I was, you do get out of the pace and rhythm of a school. So, it’s been a bit of a jolt coming back and getting used to timetables, bells, hundreds of daily interactions and the pace of the day.

And, one thing that has particularly struck me, in an area I’m very keen about, is technology. Schools seem to be at the center of a perfect storm of change, particularly in terms of ed-tech.

At my own workplace, for example, we’re grappling with the virtues of OneDrive and Google Apps for Education and probably going to opt for some of both. The OneNote notebook creator (see video below) looks like a great leap forward to this product that is so powerful, but so tricky for setup at times. We’ve been a school that uses Outlook and Office, so the collaborative features of OneDrive will be welcomed, but the sites and the survey tools in Google are excellent.

At the same we’re weighing up options for an LMS that might supplement or replace our current wikis, with teachers looking at things like Blackboard, Schoology, Edmodo and others. It’s an arms race of features out there. I’ve been using Schoology with my own teaching, and I think it’s terrific, but what about a reporting tool? And how’s the mobile app look?

Finally, we’re talking a lot about ebooks and replacing / supplementing the paper text books with e-book versions. Do we go with a single vendor, try to accommodate a range of vendors and portals or look for an aggregator? And how do we transition our teachers and parents to that model?

Lots to think about. Sometimes I think back to the simplicity of a day’s walking in Skye last term, but it sure is an exciting time to be a teacher. I’m pretty sure that OneNote will be part of my teaching next  year. Here’s that video:

Google +

I’ve been playing around with Google + for the last week or two and am hopeful that maybe, just maybe, this  might be a better social tool than the elephant in the room that is Facebook.

Like most schools, we’ve struggled with some issues to do with student access to Facebook and I think that the students too would like a more transparent, easy to manage social tool that would allow them to share with their real friends, not the public ‘friends’ that Facebook would prefer. Facebook’s default is public; the idea of circles in Google+ means that a student could perhaps have their ‘real’ friends in one circle, and everyone else in another.

I don’t know if it’s the answer, and I don’t know enough yet about how Google+ will develop, but I’ve never got into Facebook, and am hopeful that this might be better.

Street View

pastry-kitchen

Google Maps, a handy little tool I often use when travelling around Melbourne, just got a little more powerful and a trifle scary with the introduction of ‘Street View’ in Australia, the ability to zoom in at street level on just about any street.

I’ve never seen them, but apparently little Google-branded cars have been trawling our streets photographing everything they can, and pulling it into one giant photogrpahic map of the world (or at least three countries so far) If you had a faster internet connection than me you could even cruise up and down the streets of your choice, looking at houses, or shops.

It’s all slightly Orwellian in some ways, except that we all have access to it.  I like the way that you can create your own Google Maps of places you go to, favourite restaurants and the like, but this is a new dimension to all that. Imagine the data involved! If you want to talk to me about it I’ll be at the Pastry Kitchen (above) for a coffee around 8.30 this morning.