Google for Education and the Digital Evolution of Teaching and Learning
Chromebooks and Google for Education enable schools to use the power and simplicity of the web for unlimited teaching and learning opportunities, engaging stakeholders and creating dynamic learning environments that align with district curriculum and student achievement goals. This web seminar, originally broadcast on March 19, 2014, focused on the unique benefits and features of Google for Education, and how Chromebooks can be used to improve student learning, collaboration and innovation. An administrator from Leyden (Ill.) High School District 212 also explained how a 1-to-1 program for all 3,500 students was launched using Google Chromebooks, which were selected as part of the district’s Digital Evolution initiative to help students utilize technology and digital skills to enhance their education.
On the Google Education team, we think a lot about the 60 percent of students today who will someday have jobs that don’t exist yet. While this is true of many technology roles, other industries have changed dramatically as well. So conventional thinking about education is no longer enough and needs to change. We need to teach our kids the tools to be successful, like how to research, collaborate, organize information and formulate an argument. Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and to make it universally accessible and useful. On the Google Education team, we believe that access to that information is key to improving education.
What does it mean for a school to “go Google?” We decided it means four things: empowerment, choice, teamwork and scalability. Concerning empowerment, it’s important to help students discover this world of infinite resources and to help change the role of the teacher from a lecturer to a facilitator, who can support students as they explore the information that’s accessible to them and use that information to solve real-world problems. Secondly, we believe in giving schools choice and the ability to use the right device, anytime, anywhere. At Google, we want to give students and teachers the ability to use the right device, whether that be a laptop, a tablet or a phone, and use that device at school, at home and on the go. We want technology to get out of the way, so teachers and students can focus on the content and working together.
Next, ”going Google” is about teamwork. Through Google Drive, multiple students are able to work in the same document, presentation or spreadsheet at the same time. This fosters collaboration, teamwork, problem solving and organization, all of which are key skills for the modern world. Finally, “going Google” is about scale; having technology that’s affordable and easy to manage. A low-cost solution will allow a school to provide more students with devices. Scalability, and device and content management, are equally important to keeping total cost of ownership low and enabling IT teams to manage a surge in device deployment. Google designs devices that are quick and easy to set up and manage. It’s also easy to manage 10 or 10,000 devices using our administration tools. How can your school start to “go Google?” We offer schools a free suite of services through Google Apps for Education, including Gmail and Google Docs. All of these apps are web-based, which means they are available with any device with a web browser. They have a centralized web-based management console where you can create users and adjust settings.
In addition to Google Apps for Education, Google provides devices for schools. Chromebooks, for example, are web-based computers that are great for schools because they’re easy to use, manage, customize and scale. When you use a Chromebook, everything is stored on the web so it doesn’t matter which device you use. When your student signs in to any Chromebook, they’re taken to the learning experience that you design for them, based on your curriculum goals. Chromebooks also have a battery that lasts all day, and boot up in eight seconds, so teachers can focus more on instruction instead of waiting for technology to work. The management software is one of the critical differences that make Chromebooks stand out from other laptops. It removes the old idea of having to manage each device individually, by managing all devices through a centralized management console.
Student Activities Director East
Leyden High School Leyden (Ill.) High School District 212
Over the last couple years, we’ve emphasized implementing new technology in our district. We wanted to go 1-to-1 to create opportunities for students, level our playing field and create connected classrooms. Our mission in everything we do is “be kind, find your passion and commit to excellence.” The reality is we can’t ask students to do that without providing them with a 1-to-1 program and introducing them to 21st-century skills. Students have to learn to analyze and think critically and digitally in ways previous generations of students never had to do. We were fortunate that our district already had a lot of technology prior to going 1-to-1, but we felt we were still missing something. With limited computer lab availability, we were missing true access for all.
We are currently in our second year of being completely 1-to-1. All of our 3,500 students across all grade levels were issued Chromebooks at the beginning of the last school year. This process began four years ago, when we started different pilot programs in different subject areas. The second step was information gathering and teacher surveys to see how our teachers were actually using the devices. What we found was that 80 percent of our teachers were using web-based applications. This lead us to our third step, which was forming a technology committee that meets every week for a couple hours to discuss technology issues in the district. This was key because all the important players came together regularly in one room to discuss our technology programs. Finally, we focused on research and site visits. It was crucial for us to learn as much as we could from other districts that had been going through a similar transition. What we learned from these other districts was invaluable, and we could not have implemented our 1-to-1 program without that component.
After determining that Chromebooks were the best fit for our district, we first began the transition by switching over to Google Apps for Education for all of our teachers and students. Once you start using the Chrome browser, you start getting experience with the program because what you can do in the browser, you can do on the Chromebooks. Once people started using the browser and realized how intuitive and seamless it was, it helped people realize how easily we could move forward with 1-to-1. From the beginning, some were more comfortable than others using a web-based system, so we dedicated our time to peer-led professional development. We ended up teaching each other about what works and what doesn’t. Two years later, we’re still using this model and people are eager to get involved.
A question that comes up a lot is, “With 3,500 new devices, how many tech people did you hire to help with this?” and the answer is zero. About 90 percent of IT issues are handled and closed through our tech support internship class, which serves as the front line of our district’s IT help desk. Students also develop websites, social media and blogs to share what they’re doing in the program. They also work with application and program development. It’s an outstanding opportunity that benefits students and helps us with our technology issues. It was key to our success with going 1-to-1 with Chromebooks. In the end, we’re a year-and-a-half into using Chromebooks and it’s had a tremendous impact on learning, culture, collaboration and fluency in 21st-century skills in our district. We’ve knocked down the proverbial classroom walls and have allowed students to find their passions and goals.
To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please go to: www.districtadministration.com/ws031914.