In the cloud…

Last Friday I journeyed down to Southampton. It was worthwhile. I had booked on to a course which I knew little about but was curious. The world of google. I am a gmail user, google is my search engine of choice and every now and then I use google drive. However, With Google Classroom out at the beginning of the year, I had read a few blog posts concerning it and wondered what the fuss was all about. Therefore, I thought I would take this post-SATs opportunity to dig a little deeper.

Mark Allen (@EdintheClouds) led the CPD. He began helping out at a local primary school and suddenly became the IT leader. It didn’t take him long to realise that some of what schools and so-called-advisors were suggesting for their pupils was just barmy! He now leads his own consulting company http://www.edintheclouds.com/

Throughout the day, Mark worked very hard to tailor the CPD to mix of people and a range of needs. Sitting around one large table in the Novotel Hotel were educators from Primary to Further Education. Some of us had already started our journey into exploring technology and others were sent from their schools and didn’t know why.

We began to tap into google. I was amazed at how secure it is – and that dispelled a few myths. (see the DfE report here). I was excited by what google classroom can do- things that I would sometimes go to other apps (such as Showbie) for. Google apps opened a whole new world for me; one that I would like to explore further. The simplicity of Google Docs, Google Sheet, Google Forms and Google drawings means that it is accessible to all. Microsoft Word and Excel’s key features are applied without the muddle of hundreds of options (which would take days to read up and understand).

Mark Allen believes that if you can’t pick something up and understand it within 30 seconds it isn’t simple or well designed enough (which works in most cases). Google takes that 30 second rule and owns it.

Futhermore, the Chromebook seemed to be a product that would fix many of the problems I regularly face with our laptops, too. This slick model suggests speed in starting up and prolonged battery life. It delivers.

Most of all, I enjoyed the lunch. It not only tasted great but I got to listen to some of Mark’s stories and his passions. It made me thankful for people like him, people who are willing to share great practice. You never know who is going to walk through the door for CPD- but Mark did a great job!

In the near future, I will look at what this means for our school, whether through signing up to google classroom or buying chromebooks. I look forward to see where this will take us…

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