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Guest Opinion

Living and learning in a digital world

Winthrop News of Winthrop, Minnesota

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GFW Schools

Google Apps for Education has impacted the way our students and staff gather information, communicate, and simply learn. This school year, each staff member and student has been assigned a Google account which grants them free access to a vast amount of Google's search, communication, publishing, and statistical tools. The list of Google's Apps is lengthy, however, the primary tools we make use of are Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Calendars, Maps and Drive.

What makes Google's digital tools so valuable is that it utilizes cloud storage (Google Drive), which gives users access to digital files anywhere they have access to the internet. This eliminates the need to email documents back and forth and renders storage devices such as floppy disks, jump drives, and thumb drives useless. It's a fascinating concept and one that has proven to be very advantageous to both staff, students, and business professionals around the world. Instead of worrying about the dog eating one's homework, students must now only be concerned with simply remembering their Google password. If by chance they do forget... we can quickly re-assign a new password to students in seconds.

A key feature of using Google Apps is that more than one person can work on a document at the same time (as long as they have an active Google account)! Teachers and students can share their documents with one another in view only mode, comment mode, or full editing mode. Administrators and teachers have utilized these options while sharing meeting agendas, calendars, and important documents which require collaboration. Students have the same option of sharing their documents with one another and more importantly with teachers. A key feature of sharing documents is that each revision made to a document is viewable, allowing users to revert to previous versions of the document if the need arises.

Being that this is the first year we've implemented Google Apps in our school district, teachers and students alike will continue to discover new ways that Google Apps can impact their teaching and learning. I'm truly amazed with the creativity, ingenuity, and ambition our staff and students possess. If you are an avid user of Google Apps, you may find yourself nodding in agreement with the concepts I've shared in this article. If you've never used Google's Apps, I encourage you to go on an online adventure and explore Google Apps for Education.

Lastly, it's important that we continue to reinforce 'good digital citizenship' skills just as we reinforce 'good citizenship' skills. Educating our children to be good digital citizens will prepare them for the numerous online experiences they will encounter as both children and adults. GFW Schools promotes the responsible use of technology to gather information, communicate, collaborate, and to simply learn.

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Original Publication Date: November 4, 2015

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