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Ross Alexander's discussion posts

  • Ross Alexander 20 Jun 2013 10:43am () in Setting up a school with Google Apps - first steps!

    I have been involved in setting up GAFE in a couple of schools, and also with an RTLB cluster. Some thoughts:

    • Communicate clearly to all staff why the change is being made. What are the benefits to them in terms of productivity? What are the possibilities for your students?
    • Show examples of the benefits to staff and students being able to access email, docs, calendars etc. from anywhere
    • Share the GA page on the Enabling e-Learning website to see what other schools have done
    • Emphasise the power of collaborating online – both with staff and students
    • Migrating from your existing email platform to Gmail does take time, and is an area where there can be huge impact (frustration if it doesn’t go smoothly) on staff. Best done during term break!
    • If you are in a large school consider phasing in the implementation
    • Lastly, consider how Google Apps (or any other cloud-based platform) fits into the whole school development of e-learning capability. The e-Learning Planning framework provides a way of supporting staff, leaders and community in understanding that it’s not just about the technology.
  • Ross Alexander 28 Feb 2013 11:02am () in The great BYOD debate

    At Owhiro Bay School, it was the students that first raised the idea of bringing their own devices last year. The staff and principal thought “Why not?”, so the policy etc was done on the fly. The students had to have completed the acceptable use agreement first, and then complete another form related to BYOD. These agreement forms were developed as Google forms (easy to keep track of who has, and hasn’t, completed it, and reflects how things are done digitally). For BYOD, the students had to confirm that they had completed the acceptable use form, understood that the school wasn’t responsible for loss or damage, kept themselves and the network safe, agreed to limit data costs to the school (update your apps at home!), and confirm that they had discussed the agreement with parents. Underpinning this was the need for students to take responsibility for their devices and behaviour. No issues to date, and it has freed up the school laptops for things like checking mail, updating blogs etc.

    The policy reflects the points on the form, and acknowledges the role that BYOD can play in students having ready access to technology.

  • Ross Alexander 04 Feb 2013 5:32pm () in Google Apps - how do we embed their use in classroom programmes?

    A great opportunity to be using Google forms next month - students can run their own census.

  • Ross Alexander 04 Feb 2013 11:57am () in Google Apps - how do we embed their use in classroom programmes?

    Here's the Google spreadsheeet template I distributed to the students for the Great Factor Hunt. It was also a great way for them to discover prime numbers.

  • Ross Alexander 04 Feb 2013 11:48am () in Google Apps - how do we embed their use in classroom programmes?

    Thanks, Michelle. Some great ideas here. The powerful part of this is the social, co-constructed learning. The 'silent' group discussion sounds interesting. Last year I ran an activity based on a Figure It Out level 3 activity called 'The Great Factor Hunt'. I set up a Google spreadhseet template that I distributed to each student in a maths group. Several of the students shared their spreadsheets and then worked collaboratively to discover the factors of (some prety big!) numbers. The dynamics of the class changed as they worked away in their shared discoveries - not in silence, but with a productive low hum. Noeline Wright's e-Learning and implications for New Zealand schools: a literature review does talk about "The dynamics of classrooms changing when e-Learning is part of the regular learning environment." Maybe that's one example!

  • Ross Alexander 04 Feb 2013 9:09am () in Google Apps - how do we embed their use in classroom programmes?

    The start of a new school year and I’ve just set up the year 4 to 6 classes at two local schools with student Google accounts. I’ve been using Google Apps and the Teacher Dashboard for over a year now, and continue to be excited by the possibilities for students to create, communicate, and collaborate. I’ve had a taste of how their use can improve outcomes for students not currently motivated and engaged in their learning. The challenge now is to embed the use of these tools in both schools – so that they are no longer seen as novelties, but as a key part of how learning and teaching happens in class programmes. What have others in the group done to embed the use of web tools to build ‘future-oriented’ classrooms? How do we get Google Apps to be more than just a way to send out homework to the students, and begin to unleash the real power of these tools? Any thoughts?