If you do a search for the phrase “Google Rules The World” you will come up with 2,010 hits on Google, and about the same number on Yahoo. My point is there’s lots of chatter about Google and their enormous suite of products (I don’t even know all of them). Then why is it that so few educators (that I know) use Google products? As I was talking with a friend the other day it occurred to me that many just don’t know about all Google has to offer. So over the next few days I want to highlight some Google products and show you ways that I use them, and frankly wouldn’t want to live without them.
I’ll start with a basic, and the one that saves me the most time: Google Calendar. One of the great things about the calendar system is that I control everything from one place and it’s all automatically updated on the website. This means that even if you don’t want to have a fully functional class website, you can still have a basic one that simply uses the calendar to broadcast events. Because you control everything from your Google account once you have your site set-up you never have to go back fiddle with it if you don’t want to.
Here’s how I use Google calendar:
I have a calendar set-up for each of my classes, and each of those calendars are embedded into pages on my student’s website.
As you can see each calendar has it’s own color. This is an important detail because it can get confusing if you are looking at all the events at once:
(BTW, to see the images larger, just hold down your control key and use your mouse’s scroll wheel to zoom in and out; or just click on it.).
Of course you also have the ability to turn individual calendars on and off, so that if you just want to view one (or however many you choose), you are able to do that.
The biggest feature for me is the ability to add as many details as I want, such as “what”; “where”, “when” and “description”. I love the “where” feature because I use a few different methods of turning things in. Under the “where I can let them know if it’s something that is happening (or due) in class, or Turnitin.com, or if it should be uploaded to Drop.io (see previous post on about that awesome site).
All the students have to do is click on the event and all the details pop-up. Here’s what it looks like for them:
BTW, unless I need to set an assignment or event for a specific time I use the all day feature. That makes the event stand out in the color highlighted box.
Once I started using Google calendar on my website (almost) all homework related problems stopped. Think about how many times you hear: “I was absent, what was the homework”? Or “I forgot to write down the homework”. Or my favorite, “There was homework”? Using the calendar system made all of that go away. It took a tiny bit of training in the beginning of reminding my students to check the calendar, but rather quickly I was able to stop saying that and they just knew to do it.
Frequently I will “teach” right up to the bell. On those occasions I was finding myself scrambling to think about what I wanted the homework to be and then writing it on the board (a tedious task). Now I get to sit down when it’s quiet, and calmly type away. It is a much smoother process which has saved me loads of time and aggravation.
The system is so intuitive and user friendly there is no reason everyone can’t use it.
Check-in tomorrow for my next product highlight.