Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The BVSD Transition to Google Collaborative Tools

On April 23, 2012, BVSD will be transitioning to the Google collaborative tools known as Google Apps. I'm happy to be communicating the details of this transition since many of you have been requesting these very same tools for a long time.
The Basic Google Apps
Over the last few months IT and Monarch HS (staff and students) have piloted the transition to the basic suite of Google Apps: Gmail, calendar, and instant messaging. These tools have some immediate benefits.
You will have immediate online access at any time and on any device (PC, Mac, iPad, Droid, etc.). 
Your inbox will increase from 200 MB to 25 GB, which is over 10 times your current storage space. You also get the power of the Google search engine to find archived emails. 
Instant Messaging (IM)
IM allows you to instantly communicate (or "chat") with any BVSD employee, student, or Gmail user who is available to start an online chat session. The IT staff and I use this feature all the time to quickly communicate in lieu of email or phone. Please IM me with you questions or thoughts anytime you see I'm online. (Google will show you when I'm available.)
Google Apps for Document Collaboration
As Google becomes part of the BVSD culture, I anticipate a steady transition to collaboration at new levels. Google has several Apps that allow multiple people to collaborate on documents at the same time. We've already experienced the benefits of document sharing and collaboration in IT and Curriculum.  
In the schools, teachers will be able to have students submit assignments within Google and provide feedback online when appropriate. Peer collaboration within the classroom becomes an easier experience when teachers can easily see who is collaborating and to what level on any assignment. 
Administrators will also be able to collaborate with their staff members in new, fluid ways. Surveys can be easily created in an App called Google Forms.
These Google Apps are just a portion of the entire suite of Apps that are available to BVSD Google users. You can find a complete list of BVSD-accessible Google Apps at the end of this blog.
Google Ninjas: Your School's Experts
The list of benefits in using Google is long, but a transition of this scale is rarely without some bumps in the road. To help with the rollout, Kelly Sain (Ed Tech Manager) has created a program that will put Google experts in each school. The experts, known as Google Ninjas, will be trained over the next couple of months in preparation for the April 23 rollout. Principals have provided Kelly with a list of the experts for each school who will become your resident Google Ninjas.
Your First Days in Google
You probably have a lot of questions about what to expect in the transition to Google Apps. I recommend taking a look at the Google Transition Site, which is specifically designed to address your first days as a Google Apps user in BVSD. If you are a Gmail user in your personal life, then you already know how to use some of these tools.
Please chime in on this blog and let me know what you are looking forward to with the move to Google Apps and what concerns you most about the transition.
Thank you for your time!
Initial Google Apps Available at BVSD    
AviaryAviary is a powerful suite of browser-based design tools for people who create.
Google ContactsAddress Book
Google GmailEmail
Google CalendarCalendar
Google DocsWord processing, Spreadsheets, Presentations
Google SitesWebsites
Google TalkChatting
BloggerShare your life online with a blog - it's quick, easy and free
BookmarksAccess your Bookmarks on any computer, and use Lists to share them with friends
BooksSearch the full text of books
FinanceBusiness info, news and interactive charts
Google GroupsCreate and participate in public discussion groups
iGoogleAdd news, games and more to your Google homepage
MapsView maps and directions
Picasa Web AlbumsShare photos with friends and family, or explore public photos
ReaderGet all your blogs and news feeds fast
Translator ToolkitGet tools for translators to translate your pages and documents faster
YouTubeWatch, upload and share videos

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