I’m just going to come out and say it: Google is awesome. They have given us so many useful tools in the years they’ve been around and their absolutely free. This can make our jobs as educators a whole lot easier – no matter whether we’ve got a ton of money to spend or are working within an incredibly tight budget.
So what are the best tools out there? That’s what we’re going to explore today.
This one has actually been made specifically for the classroom. Google Classroom is great as it actually allows you to create a virtual classroom for your students, where you can publish assignments to write my essay, create classes and make announcements.
Even better, there are no ads and the content is entirely secure so that it won’t be sold to advertisers. That’s a big deal, as often we’re rightfully afraid for students, as we don’t want their information projected all over the internet, nor do we want them to be exposed to all sorts of efforts by companies to sell to them.
I also like that email has been integrated into the app, so you don’t even have to leave it if you want to send one out.
Google Docs and Sheets
Google docs and sheets are phenomenal tools for your students, as they’re an absolutely free version of Microsoft Word. Even better, they have a wide number of extra functions that Word does not have.
For example, if you’re working on the same document with a couple of people, edits performed by one person are immediately visible to the others in real time. This means that you don’t end up working on different versions of the same document – something that used to be a real headache in the past.
Another great function is suggestion mode, where you don’t actually delete or change text when you type over it, but instead only suggest edits and changes which can then be reviewed by the original author. In this way, as a teacher you can show your student how they could have written thigns, without deleting their original text.
This is a tool that professionals use all over the place, be it to discuss book editions, or to send over content for writers.
Google CS First
Teaching our kids computer sciences is a big deal. To help us in that regard, Google has created Google CS First. Through it, it becomes incredibly easy for you to teach students computers sciences, with the course having all the necessary material already integrated. All you have to do is sit down and teach it.
In this way, if your home teaching, standing in front of a class or don’t feel your kid’s school is up to teaching them how to use computers correctly, you can use this to make sure they stay ahead of the curve.
That matters, as knowing how something that you use every day actually works is vital in this modern day world.
Google Hangouts on Air
With the world being as connected as it is, it makes sense to invite people from other parts of the world to give talks on topics that you’re discussing with your class. One of the best tools to do exactly that is Google Hangouts On Air.
With it, you can bring any speaker to your class and have them teach them about anything you want them to. You can even send people into the field with the app version, thereby giving students a look at the situation on the ground.
Another great function is that you don’t just have to do live broadcasts, but can also save whatever you’re doing to a YouTube video. In this way, you can even use this great service to prerecord bits of classes that you’re going to be teaching again and again, so that you don’t have to repeat that bit every time, making it a great time saver.
And then there is Google Maps. I mean, it’s not like you haven’t heard of them before, right? This is a great tool to give your students a better idea of how the world fits together, with them being able to zoom ín and out from continents to individual city streets.
Also, don’t forget the usefulness of tools like street view, to give students a feel for what it is really like in a place. For example, you can demonstrate plate tectonics surprisingly well, by zooming in on places plates are crashing into each other (provided there is roads that Google has photographed, of course).
It can also be used as a tool in show and tell or to let students from far away give their new peers a virtual walkthrough their neighborhoods and give them a small taste of their lives back home.
And then there is possibly one of the most educational tools of them all – You Tube. There is just so much great material on there! Of course, you’ll have to prescreen it to make sure that it’s actually up to scratch, but if you do that then you can have You Tubers actually teach whole sections of your class, from how to use certain software packages to lessons on psychology.
In fact, if used in this way they can let you learn right along with your students. After all, there is so much on there that even as a teacher you can’t know it all!
If used correctly, Google can revolutionize your classroom. They’ve just created so many high-quality resources for us to use that it would be almost criminal for us not to. Which tool should you use? That’s up to you. Personally I’d go with ‘all of them’ or nearly all of them anyway.
The best part, I think, is how easy they make it for you to collaborate with each other. This makes these tools great to use both in a brick and mortar setting as well as when you’re all miles apart.