At the NACTE 2011 conference, I was selected to present on using the iPad and Google Apps in the classroom. The presentation can be viewed here. Since the presentation is mostly graphics and minimal text, I thought that I would use this space to explain my presentation. I use Google Apps and the iPad to solve/improve three issues that I see frequently in classrooms. These three are communication, feedback, and excessive paperwork.
I can improve communication with students, staff members, administration, and parents. This is primarily done through the use of Google Calendars. For each of my classes, I create a calendar that includes objectives, activities, and homework for each class period. Included in the activities are links to any articles, notes, and assignments that the student are completing that day. The calendars are embedded into my class website that students, parents, and administrators can access. Students no longer ask me what they missed after an absence because they can just check the calendar. Since I started using Google Calendars about 4 years ago, my parent-teacher conferences have declined by about 75% because the parents can see what is going on in my class everyday and know what their child has for homework.
A great thing about using Google calendars is that I can add or modify events anywhere where I have Internet connection. In addition, I use CalenGoo to add or modify events when I have my iPad offline and sync it once the Internet is available. This has enabled me to be more productive during downtimes in meetings or appointments.
Another aspect of Google that I use in my classroom is Google Docs. I create all of my assignments in Google Docs and the majority of my notes. I then make these documents public and post the links into my calendar. My students also use Google Docs to submit assignments to me by sharing them. I am able to type in feedback into the document and save it. Students will see the graded document in their documents list and be able to see why they earned the grade that was given. My students also use Google Docs for collaboration on assignments and projects. I can have multiple students working on a group assignment simultaneously from several different computers in the classroom. The great thing about using Google Docs is that I am not taking home stacks of paper or dealing with no name papers.
In part two, I will discuss how I use Google Forms and the iPad to grade work.
In part three, I will discuss how I use Dropbox.com and other iPad apps to manage my classroom.