10 Things I Took Away From the Google Apps Summit – Tanja’s Journey

I find going to a conference always very inspiring and motivating, coming across new ideas and getting a chance to trying out things I have heard about but never gotten into. The Google Apps Summit last weekend did exactly this and so, before the everyday craziness is taking over again, I quickly want to share a few things I have taken away from this conference. To get this post onto my blog (and not just draft it in my head as I most often end up doing), I will limit it to just 10 things, even though there was a lot more. So here they are, 10 things I took away from the Google Apps Summit, in no particular order:

(Image source: http://hongkong.appsevents.com/ )

1. Google Classroom is Google’s answer to Blackboard, Moodle and other online platforms that help teachers organize their classes and courses.

2. Google+ is Google’s answer to Facebook and Twitter, maybe a clever combination of features from both of these and a few other social media sites. For now, since I am very attached to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, the biggest potential I see is as a PLN platform within our school – or any other school using Google Apps.

3. Google Drive on my iPhone – It’s really as easy to use as on the computer: creating new folders, adding documents, photos, videos and other files to your Drive on the go, which you can later access on your computer. I could imagine it to be a great tool for recording learning in the library and classroom in the form of pictures and videos, filing them immediately in a location where they can remain. Having no additional uploading or importing to a computer will save so much time. The only downside, if you want to add a Google Doc, you need to download an additional app, which in its use is not as powerful as when you create a Google Doc on your computer (for example, you cannot insert images).

4. Other mobile Google Apps to explore: Google Capture (easy tool to make, edit and upload videos to YouTube quickly), Google Search (comes with voice recognition which can be very handy on the go), Photo Sphere (360 views that can be placed into Google maps), Google Translate, just to mention a few. As Lee Webster said in his keynote, “Google Apps [is] a treasure trove of applications” – definitely something the conference highlighted. It also showed me that so far, I have merely scratched the surface.

5. Google Books (http://books.google.com ) This may sound strange coming from a librarian but I did not know what a fantastic resource Google Books is. I have to admit that I always thought that it was just a search engine bringing up titles of books, which ultimately had to be bought to get read. Discovering the wealth of books available at our finger tips, and all for free, simply made my day! It was very handy too, to get shown how to search for books by particular authors, publishers etc. (e.g. if you want to search for all available Michael Morpurgo books, simply type into the search box: inauthor:Michael Morpurgo – for a particular topic: subject:”hypnosis” )

6. Google Advanced Search – I finally got to have a closer look at some of the features of Google Advanced Search, loving especially the option to narrow the search down by reading level. But even though it’s a great tool, I will remain an advocate for using subscription databases like our online catalog and World Book Encyclopedia as the first places for Primary School students to make searches. It’s a great way to start learning the basics of searches (especially the importance of using keywords) and finding the appropriate resources among a manageable number of hits. Then when students move into Secondary School, they can built on these skills, adding Google as a search engine to the online catalog and other databases.

7. Adding a few more educators to my PLN on Twitter – learning from the best J @brookhouser @richtheteach @Cleave21 @stulowe80 @Apps1events

8. Google Educator and Google Certified Teacher http://www.google.com/edu/training/
Getting a quick overview over the certification process and required exams was really helpful. I will definitely follow up, since it’s a great opportunity to get more familiar with the many great applications in Google – and as the presenter Dan Taylor said, it’s a quick way to advance your professional development. I appreciated the tips and advice he shared for preparing and taking the exams.

9. GameSalad – Even though this was the most challenging session for me to attend, on how to make games and apps, I was totally intrigued by it, especially when the presenter Stu Lowe shared an example of an app he put together to help students explore Kowloon’s Walled City Park while on a field trip there. I just loved the idea of having a customized app to support inquiry and explorations. Here is a 10min tutorial, check it out!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mr8Q_EO_c_8

10. World Tour Builder https://tourbuilder.withgoogle.com This had the biggest WOW factor for me. The World Tour Builder is such an easy-to-use tool with so much potential in education. For the library, for example, it can help getting students interested in particular authors or genres. I could imagine creating tours taking students to the original locations where stories are taking place. I actually began creating a tour right there in the session (that’s another factor I liked, that many of the sessions I had chosen to attend allowed for time to try out the apps right then and there) – loved it! While it’s pretty self-explanatory, here is a quick tutorial from the presenter Jason Prohaska:http://coachescorner.rchk.edu.hk/tour-builder.html

Overall, a great conference! Thanks to everyone involved in organizing and presenting!

This article originally appeared in Tanja’s blog but cross-posted with permission from the author.

About the Contributor

Tanja Galetti

Primary School Librarian working in the PYP – life-long learner, passionate reader, wanna-be geek and writer.

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