Tabaldo on Tech

Teaching with Technology in the 21st Century

image Flicker (Kevin Jarrett)
image Flicker (Brad Flickinger)

There is a Cloud in My Classroom

We hear all the time about “the cloud” but do we really know what the cloud is and what it does?

Photograph taken by Michael Jastremski

Photograph taken by Michael Jastremski

The Cloud or “Cloud Computing” is using applications and resources that are located on a network, usually the Internet instead of on a local computer or device.

To simply explain this, think of when you purchased you last computer or laptop and you wanted to have a word processing program on it. You probably had to spend another $100+ to get Microsoft Word. The software was then installed, probably from a CD, to your computer and there it lives for you to use as long as you own the computer. This is a traditional installation to a local machine. Now imagine that you purchased that same computer and did NOT pay the extra $100 for Microsoft Word. Instead, you went on the internet, logged into your Google account and opened up Google Drive and began to create new documents, spreadsheets, forms, pictures and presentations all from the web. This is cloud computing. You are using the Google resources online to create the same content you could create using a similar locally installed program.

The Cloud can refer to programs or applications that reside on the web, and it can also refers to data storage. The Cloud can offer the ability to collaborate without having to email documents back and forth. Documents and folders can now be shared and edited in real time with others no matter where they are.

Using The Cloud in the classroom can be very powerful. Students can be working on a research project in Science class, save it to their secure Cloud storage area, continue to work on it no matter what computer they are on or where they are at (provided they have an Internet connection.) Upon completion of the assignment the students simply moves the finished document into the Science Homework Submissions folder that is shared with the teacher and viola it is submitted. No papers to lug around, just the opportunity to read and comment on the assignment. The teacher can see the progression of the assignment, as well as have an archive of the students’ work. The student now has a digital collection of their work safe on the web, accessible later for reference or just to see their growth.

The Cloud service I recommend is of course Google Apps for Education. Google apps integrate well together and are compatible with every device I have tried them on. Google Drive has plenty of storage space for students and gives them the ability to share and collaborate with others. Google Drive can create Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Pictures and Forms. Drive can also act as storage for any other digital file. (There are some limitations on file size.)

(If you would like to learn more about Google Apps for Education, check out my Tabaldo on Google site.)

There are so many examples I could give but I really want your feedback on how you are using The Cloud in your classroom.

(Next post will be on Cloud Storage Services. – Stay tuned.)

Category: Resources
  • Mike says:

    How do you see teachers interacting with Google Apps for education? I’ve found in my personal experience the difficulty lies not in educating the students and getting them to use this technology, but in the teachers embracing and being comfortable with something new.

    Do you have any tips for easy “on ramps” for teachers, or “low hanging fruit” cases where a teacher can easily start to integrate this technology while learning the nuances between, say, Google Docs and Microsoft Word?

    February 12, 2013 at 8:41 pm
    • Shannon Tabaldo says:

      Mike,
      Thanks for the comment and support of my site & blog. I have been doing many Google Apps for Ed professional development trainings recently so I am seeing even the most reluctant teacher begin to embrace Google Apps. You are correct, in that it is the comfort level of the teachers that we need to focus on in our PDs. AS far as “on ramps” I usually begin with the basics, starting with Google Drive as a web based file storage system and then the difference between Google “Docs” and Word “docs.” The next thing I usually introduce is Google Groups. I like to use Groups as a discussion board, and we brainstorm how to extend the lesson out of the classroom using Google Groups. I will admit that each individual come to the PDs with varying levels of comfort with Google, and so I look to the administration to help my guide the most important tools to introduce first and we work form there. I usually do NOT try and cover more that 2 or 3 Google products in a 3 hour PD, because I like to have “hands-on” time so they can explore and ask questions of me and their peers. I find this to be very productive.
      I guess I would suggest introduction of a few apps at a time, then a few more, and so on. I also would be sure and show the integration between Google Apps. This is very powerful when you can show how to easily embed Google Groups, docs, forms, widgets into a Google Site. Very powerful indeed.
      Best,
      Shannon

      February 15, 2013 at 9:13 pm

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