With more and more students using Google in our schools, I feel it is important for families to understand what we are doing with it and what it means for our students.
What is Google Apps for Education (GAFE)
Google Apps for Education (GAFE) is a collection of apps created by Google that schools can use for FREE. We host our domain through them, meaning our email accounts are able to be @hallsville.org, but we are logging into Google.
Students and faculty have access to the apps offered by Google. These are the same ones you have if you have a gmail account. One of the most valuable we can access is Drive - Docs, Slides, Sheets, Drawings, and Forms. This is a great, free alternative to Microsoft programs. Also, this provides an easy way to collaborate with each other and with the teacher.
Students and faculty can share documents, allowing them to work on them at the same time, make comments, and view them from anywhere with Internet access. They can even work on them without access to the Internet, and the documents will sync when they do get access. This eliminates the frustration of "read-only" documents and not being able to get to the documents when you are in another location. They are web-based.
Students also have the chance to use Maps, Sites, and more! They use these for projects in class. In Google Maps they can create maps that pinpoint locations and make paths. We used them in 5th grade to show where the European explorers traveled and what they encountered on their journeys. Sites has allowed our middle school to showcase their work through eportfolios.
Information and Safety
Students are not allowed to have Google+ accounts, specifically those under 13. There is no personal information tied to their accounts. Google does not phish through any of their information because they own their information. There are no ads associated with these accounts.
The admins on the account have access to documents created through the @hallsville.org domain. Accounts can be suspended, if they violate the technology agreement signed by all students at the beginning of the year. Students also went through an introduction explaining this is a "professional" account, not personal. The activity on these accounts should be used for things you don't mind a teacher, principal, parent, etc, seeing.
Parents, I recommend having your child login and show you what they have been working on in class. They love to show it off! If you ever have any questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
A teacher turned techie with an obsession with Google, teachers that love learning, and students that love life!