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Going 1-to-1 with Google for Education

Equip students with 21st century skills with the right technology and content

Students will need creativity, critical thinking, communication and problem-solving skills to succeed in college and future careers. To facilitate those skills, teachers need effective professional development to best use and integrate technology in the classroom. This web seminar, originally broadcast on June 5, 2014, featured an administrator from Richland School District Two, who shared expertise on how she helped launch a 27,000-student 1-to-1 program with Google Chromebooks and Apps for Education with the goal of improving student learning.

James Leonard 
Google for Education Team
Google

Sixty percent—at Google for Education we think about this number quite a lot. Sixty is the percentage of students in school today whose future career does not yet exist. Many of the technology roles that we have today didn’t exist when I was in school. Even just two years ago there was no such thing as a Google for Education program manager. Just three years ago there were no Chromebooks. Six months ago there were no tablets with Google Play for Education. Many non-technology roles have changed dramatically as well, generally as a result of the adoption of technology. The way we research, collaborate, disseminate information and work in teams in 2014 is much, much different than it was even just a few years ago. So conventional thinking about education is no longer enough—we need to change the way that we’re working with students. We need to teach kids how to collaborate, research, organize information, formulate an argument. These 21st century skills are critical.

Technology really does remove barriers. I remember when I was in middle school and had a research paper. My way of researching was going to the encyclopedia. My only source of information was that encyclopedia article; it was finite. Now we have a world’s worth of information at our fingertips, in our pockets, on our desks. The challenge is how do we leverage these access points in a scalable way? Our mission for education is to provide open technology to improve learning for everyone, everywhere—to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Using Google for Education entails four things:

  1. Empowerment: helping teachers and students to discover a world of infinite resources, and enabling teachers to leverage those resources in the context of the classroom.
  2. Choice: being able to use the right device anytime, anywhere.
  3. Teamwork: providing the platform that enables students, teachers and parents to work in real time, anytime, anywhere.
  4. Scalability: bringing in technology that’s affordable and easy to manage. What’s important is the manageability of it. With Google Apps as the foundation, you can easily manage 10 or 10,000 Chromebooks with administrator tools that are all web-based. You can set up a whole class of tablets with Google Play for Education in just minutes. There’s no need to run around and do troubleshooting—there aren’t many challenges. Still, we also have 24/7 online info and support to help out if there are any technical issues.

Google Apps for Education is the platform. It’s a free suite of services that includes Gmail as the email service provider and productivity tools such as Google Drive, which includes Docs, spreadsheets and presentations. We also recently announced Google Classroom, which will be an additional app that will help facilitate the classroom workflow. It will make it even simpler for teachers and students to communicate, as well as to push out assignments and content. One thing that I’m really excited about is K12 books in Google Play for Education. We have been working with many of the major publishers to provide a huge selection of titles available to rent at affordable prices. You also get access to thousands of classic books for free. Instead of buying a limited set of classroom books to use for three, five or 10 years that students might not even be interested in, teachers can customize reading materials to their students’ interests. Once a book is assigned, students not only have the flexibility to read it on their tablet, but they can also access it through the web on Google Play Reader. If the tablets stay at school, a student can log into their Google account from their web browser at home and pick up reading right where they left off.

Donna Teuber  
Team Leader for Technology Integration
Richland School District Two (S.C.)

Our one-to-one initiatives began district-wide about three years ago. We collaboratively developed our project goals to improve student learning, to improve student engagement, to have our students ready for the 21st century with all of those necessary skills. We began phasing Chromebooks into classrooms in January 2012. With the Chromebooks, we are ready for a lot of different types of electronic testing, but more importantly, we have the tools and the resources to support learning for our students. We have around 22,000 students using Chromebooks in our one-to-one initiative in grades 3-12, and we also have about five devices in each second grade classroom. Our Chromebooks provide seamless integration with Google Apps for Education, and they allow our students to access a variety of web resources. And the Chromebooks are easy to deploy; students log in with their Google account and then they are ready to go in less than 10 minutes. We have a resource selection committee that has developed a digital starter kit for the students and the teachers. We’ve also purchased additional digital resources to support the initiative, including WeVideo to support multimedia production, and VoiceThread for student presentations.

We also use Hapara Teacher Dashboard, which provides our teachers with a way to easily share documents with students and to access student work. The learning that we really want to see in our classrooms is what we call iPAC—Personalized Authentic and Collaborative learning. Teachers are using a variety of strategies to redefine our learning environments and to engage our students in authentic tasks, including blended learning, project-based learning, e-portfolios, online collaboration, publishing, virtual field trips, online assessments and using technology for intervention. A major district initiative is transitioning to The Common Core state standards. We’re focusing our professional learning on the ELA standards in all content areas, including reading, writing, listening, speaking and digital literacy. We know that we can’t continue to use the same instructional methods in classroom environments from the past if we want our students to have the 21st century skills that Common Core requires.

We also use Google Apps and Google Drive for the writing process. Our students are able to collaborate—they’re able to review one another’s work and they receive teacher feedback. They can also publish their work by sharing it with other students or even with the world, if they want to. We have technology and learning coaches who provide a lot of professional development for our teachers. They provide hours of school-based technology coaching, working with teachers in the classroom and modeling the use of technology. It’s essential to our success that we’ve had the leadership of principals and assistant principals who attend monthly sessions to keep learning. These principals have made huge changes in their schools. They model the use of technology. They wander around, take photos of things going on. They blog about it. They tweet to parents and share information about what’s going on. And, most importantly, they provide time for teachers to have that collaboration and that opportunity to pursue professional learning.

Teachers this year have really taken off with the use of technology. Now that all of our classrooms in grades 3-12 are one-to-one, teachers can collaborate across grade levels and across schools. The teachers are embracing the technology and transforming their learning environments more from teacher-centered to having the teacher as a facilitator and the students working in groups.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please go to: www.districtadministration.com/ws060514