CULLOWHEE (November 18, 2014)—Twenty-one teachers from across North Carolina used Google tools to create, edit and share documents and to collaborate with colleagues after taking part in “Google Tools in Schools” Nov. 3-6. The program was held at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching, a national leader in professional development.
“This course has been great. I can’t wait to take what I learned here into the classroom,” said Virginia Spaventa, who teaches at Frank Morgan Elementary School in Clemmons. “I really believe these tools will help me connect with parents and involve them more in the learning process. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.”
Teachers were able to hone skills with the Google Chrome Browser, with Google Apps, with Android Apps, and with Chrome OS to help engage students using freely available tools on almost any platform. While Google is commonly thought of as a search engine to look up information on the Internet, it also provides several Web-related services, like Google Docs, Forms and Calendars.
“The past couple of years, school districts have started to adopt Google for their platform for email and calendars,” said one of the week's presenters Dan Froelich, IT advanced systems analyst for North Carolina Virtual Public School. “The bigger picture of Goolge is that it tears down the obstacles that used to exist when doing things in a collaborative environment. Not just one person has to be in control now. This puts everybody in control and gives everyone equal access to work together.”
Froelich, along with Mike Shumake, a digital learning consultant, and Deb Teitelbaum, lead NCCAT fellow, led the program over four days in western North Carolina.
Teachers shared how they had already used Google tools such as creating a Google Hangout to allow a student battling cancer to participate in class.
“It has been great to hear and see teachers talking about what they've done with Google tools in their schools,” Froelich said.
NC Virtual Public School, where Froelich works, is a leader in virtual learning for students. Nearly 50,000 secondary students across the state are enrolled in courses from over 150 Advanced Placement, Honors, Traditional, Credit Recovery, and Occupational Course of Study Blended course offerings. NCVPS students come from all 115 school districts in North Carolina as well as many charter schools.