Yesterday I returned home from Sydney, having spent two days there for the Google Apps for Education Summit. It was a wonderful experience, not only because of the great presentations but also because of the opportunity to meet new people passionate about ed tech.
The two days were ridiculously busy and everyone came out on Friday feeling like their brains had been stuffed with information until no more would fit. I’m still processing a lot of it, reading my notes and going through resources, trying to figure out how I can apply it in my classroom this year. I have decided to post a reflection on the highlights that stood out the most, then come back to any specific tools that I use in the future.
Highlight #1: Amazing educators
Attending the conference I realised how many amazing educators are in Australia, and how many across the world are associated with Google. The keynotes were inspiring (particularly the ones by Jim Sill and Chris Bell) and engaging and showed the many different ways Google apps could be used in all forms of education. It was really encouraging to see and talk to so many wonderful educators.
Highlight #2: Google Sites
One of the first sessions I attended was about using Google Sites in the classroom, with grade 6 students. Some of the digital portfolios the students had created using Sites were just amazing. The pride the students had in their portfolios, and their work, was wonderful. I will definitely be investigating using Google Sites this year.
Highlight #3: Google Chrome
I didn’t know you could do so much with a web browser! I have completely converted to Google Chrome now. Being able to automatically bring up the website I was looking at on my iPad onto my Macbook saves me a lot of time, as does a shared history. I have only just scratched the surface of the Chrome web apps, but there is everything I could ever possibly need. This is going to increase my productivity ten-fold.
Highlight #4: Google Drive
Including Google Forms. Being able to easily and quickly create short surveys for my students saves a lot of time and paper! I am trying to go as paperless as possible this year, and forms will help me with that. I have already created a form to find out more about students’ technology knowledge and their access to computers/internet at home. It is a lot easier than creating it in Word, and better than constantly printing out 23 copies.
Highlight #5: Twitter
I love going to conferences with an active Twitter stream, so that I can learn from the sessions that I cannot attend as well. The GAFE summit had a fantastic Twitter stream, with people constantly sharing all of the resources from each session. I now have a huge list of resources! It also meant I was able to follow more people with similar interests to me, so I can keep learning throughout the year. Even if you were not at the conference, I would recommend checking out the #gafesummit tweets.