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The Google Apps for Education movement provided educators, schools, districts, and google_signhigher education the long needed shot in the arm to create change in learning and teaching. The ability to work together and freely share opened a world of collaboration not previously known to us educators. Many districts have already made the transition and are building on this movement. But what happens after the implementation of Google Apps for Education? How do we build beyond the transition to Google? And what can we do to assure that this educational movement doesn’t end simply with the adoption of Google in a school district? Here are my thoughts on these questions.

What happens after the implementation of Google Apps for Education?

Google Apps for Education is ever changing. They are constantly updating, adjusting, and introducing new features. This is one of the reasons I am hooked on it! Implementation is simply making everyone comfortable with the platform and its capabilities, and making sure everyone can use it. Once a school, district, or organization has implemented Google Apps for Education (GAFE) it must continue to grow with it through the updates, changes, and new features. This means someone or a team need to continually work to develop relevant professional development. The GAFE implementation is not a one and done professional development training. It’s an evolutionary implementation.

How do we build beyond the transition to Google?

GAFE provides collaboration tools for our students and teachers. We need to use these collaboration tools to improve learning and teaching. Once the initial transition is done GAFE can not be used only to share docs, slides, and sheets. There needs to be a transition in the materials used to learn and for learning. Educators need to look at how this transition can and will change the classroom dynamic and expand the learning outside the classroom walls. Educators need to see this as a transition in learning that empowers students to be part of the learning process. Connections with current curricula and the development of new curricula also need to be made. Educators who are building beyond the transition need to be the models to share the possibilities and encourage their colleagues to do the same.

What can we do to assure that this educational movement doesn’t end with the adoption of Google in a school district?

No device, apps, software, method, or educational change on its own will solve the complex problems in education. The best educational movements are able to be expanded on, or set the foundation for more substantial change. GAFE provides us this opportunity, if we allow it. The resources that connect with and support GAFE are constantly increasing. Once GAFE is implemented a plan needs to be developed on how it can be used to further teaching and learning (see question above). This can be an overall technology plan (we just updated our 3 year tech plan), individual teacher’s plan (several of our teachers have made this part of their individual improvement plan this year), or a mindset for a teacher or group of teachers. We also need to implement the GAFE transition into activities, events, and opportunities outside of the classroom. We need to connect GAFE and our parents, GAFE and our colleagues, GAFE and our community. We need to use GAFE to create new learning opportunities, new learning tools, and new learning experiences. Implementing video (existing and originally developed), digital textbooks, virtual field trips, and access to primary source material can not only enrich learning but create dynamic learning environments that motivate even the most reluctant students. Taking these steps means the GAFE transition is more about overall educational change and not about a new way of doing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

The implementation of GAFE is a first step, the foundation, in the evolution of our educational system that can enhance learning and teaching. As long as we build beyond Google. Once the initial transition is complete, it’s our responsibility to build upon it and take advantage of the new possibilities that sharing and collaborating have on our educational resources and materials.

How are you Building Beyond Google?