The AppsEvent at Chadwick International School during the weekend of December 1-3, 2017 was an great professional development opportunity based around Gsuite for Education. I offered two presentations at the event: Tracking Student Discipline with Forms, Sheets, Docs, and autoCrat and Student Portfolios with Google Sites. The first session didn't really go as smoothly as I would have liked, but I was able to receive some solid feedback that will help reshape my presentation for the future. The second session went great and people were very positive about the content and pacing of the session. Enough about me!
The best part about AppsEvents is the networking and opportunity for learning about new Gsuite products and new ways to use them. I got to code a drone thanks to Rob McElroy's (@edtechmac) session about Parrot Drones. What makes the little Parrot Drones amazing is the ability to use Tynker to code the drone thus tying coding and drone robotics together. Super cool! The simple Tynker programming language makes drone flight available to young and old learners. It opens up endless problem solving opportunities by creating challenges with everyday objects that drones must dodge or land on. Thanks, Rob!
Brett Petrillo's (@brettpetrillo) session about bringing out your school's inner Google was inspiring and an affirmation of the current work we are doing at Cheongna Dalton School. Brett explained how educational leaders need to use Gsuite to actually run the school and improve efficiency with the organization. Once again I was reminded of how lucky I am in my current position having an admin team of David Hill, Ben Scoville, and Malcolm Harrison who all use Gsuite with ease. This year they made the commitment to use Gmail less by using Classroom as a communication tool within their divisions. Everything can be easily found when needed this way, rather than everyone trying to search through all their emails to find documents, links, or announcements. One super cool thing I learned is that Brett uses Slides to create his weekly newsletter by changing the Slide size to 8.5 x 11.5. Genius! It was also nice to meet Brett face-to-face for the first time because we have been collaborating on Twitter for several years. Thanks, Brett!
Megan Godek's (@MEGodek) session on Google Drawing gave me many new ideas on how to use Drawing with our elementary students. Teaching kids to recognize shapes, patterns, and colors while also introducing elements of design and making their own images rather than simply copying something from the internet. Super cool! I'm looking forward to sharing her ideas and enthusiasm with my elementary team at CDS. Thanks, Megan!
And finally there is Dean Stokes (@deanstokes). What can I say about Dean? I feel like my IQ goes up by simply being in the same room with this guy. I attended three of Dean's sessions. The first was about supporting literacy with Gsuite and third party products. The voice recognition software now built into Docs was a mind blower. The last time I played with Google voice recognition, I left thinking I'll wait until this gets better. It is now much, much better. It was typing my spoken comments with a very high level of accuracy. Very useful for many things, but especially for students who have difficulty typing or have trouble with spelling. It could also be a great tool for helping ELL students learn about correct pronunciation. The second tool Dean introduced us to was Chrome's Read & Write extension -- AMAZING! It is free for teachers, but there is a small fee for students, but even just having the teacher version for yourself would open up tons of learning opportunities for your students. The Read & Write tool bar comes with a regular dictionary that allows you to find a definition of any word you highlight. There is also a picture dictionary. There is a function for the Read & Write tool bar to read aloud a highlighted passage and much, much more. It is definitely a help tool for supporting literacy in a variety of ways. Awesome!
The second session I attended was Dean answering any question you have about Google. If you have the chance to simply sit down with Dean and talk, you should always take that opportunity. We had a very good discussion about a variety of topics, but my big takeaways were about Jamboard and Google Timelapse. If you haven't heard about Jamboard, you better look into it. It is Google's redesign of the old school digital whiteboard. Remember how most of the education world decided that digital whiteboards were mostly useless for a variety of reasons I will not get into now? Well the folks at Google found a way to make them useful by taking away the parts that sucked. Digital whiteboards didn't allow for more than one person (usually the teacher) to use them, but Jamboard does allow more than one user and the user doesn't have to be in the room or the building or even in the same country. Thanks, Google! Timelapse takes satellite images of the earth going back to 1984 and plays through them showing how an area has changed over time. Really cool!
The final session of Dean's was the closing keynote and it was totally worth the price of the event all on its own. It introduced me to Google ReWork. I website where Google explains how they make and maintain their culture of innovation. Dean took Google's lessons and applied them to education. It is a major change in the way education is currently done in most institutions around the world, but it is time we start moving in this direction. Considering the incredible success of Google and companies like it, we can clearly see that the world of education needs a serious rework. Super amazing! Thanks, Google for sharing your approach and I hope that educators start reworking our schools in this image. And thanks, Dean.