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Mike: How do you foster the close collaboration we see among Minnesota teachers?

Mark: I think a lot of our collaboration comes from the tradition among Minnesotans of a strong work ethic. People are willing to put in the time to help their communities.

Ben: Minnesota is an education-forward state. There’s a large community of people who have connected over the years at various events and online who share a passion for changing education.

Sean: Teachers are a special breed of folk. They give themselves over to making a difference in others’ lives. The thing that I do to foster that collaboration is provide space, time and tools.

Katrina: I look to three key ingredients: culture, tools and time. Culture is seeing the “we” and “our” in everything. These are our students, not my students. Tools like Google give us a starting point — a place for collaboration. The last piece is time: giving teachers the dedicated time to work together every day is essential.

Molly: We know that we’re better together. We’ve created an amazing network of teachers and specialists that share ideas and best practices, and know the lessons we have learned can really help other schools in the area. We share ideas at local conferences, present and attend the Summits featuring Google for Education, and participate in our Twin Cities Google Educators Group — all of which create an amazing network.

Mike: How do you help teachers support each other?

Mark: In my district we offer year-long training for educators to become technology leaders in their schools. Molly Schroeder actually created and teaches the program, and it’s made a big impact. Participating teachers get 10 semester credits, and the school district pays part of their course fees. After this year, one in 10 teachers in White Bear Lake will have completed the program.

Ben: One great channel for teamwork is the Google Apps Hive, an interdistrict professional development program. The Hive connects pockets of innovation in schools throughout the region and brings together teachers in Google Apps for Education districts to share their best ideas, workflows, lessons and strategies. The goal of the Hive is to increase the quality of professional development and spread the word about good technology integration practices.

Mike: Which educator are you thankful for, and why?

Sean: My dear friend Andrew Rummel, a former English teacher who’s now teaching English education at St. Cloud State University. We share a sense of the possible and the potential in education. He challenges and encourages me to remain dedicated to learning about the hard stuff. How do we do better for all kids? How can we use teaching to improve the world for our own children, and the children of people we'll never meet?

Katrina: I am profoundly thankful for our middle school media directors: Karen Qualey, Tara Oldfield and Christina Lindstrom. They get stuff done with a can-do attitude — they’re focused on students and learning and they’re willing to experiment, fail, learn and iterate. Because of their leadership, Bloomington Public Schools smoothly introduced 2,500 Chromebooks for all of our middle school students, a process that would have certainly been less successful and more painful without them.

Molly: My mom. She was a kindergarten teacher for 36 years, and touched the lives of so many people in our community. When I became a teacher, I knew that I wanted to know the students I taught as well as my mom knew her students. She showed me that being in education didn't just mean teaching the students, but really knowing them and their families. To this day, former students stop my mom and tell her what a great teacher she was, because she cared about them.

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Editor's note: Today’s guest author is Eric Sheninger, senior fellow and thought leader on digital leadership with the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE) and Scholastic Achievement Partners (SAP). He also maintains a practitioner presence as K-12 director of technology and innovation in the Spotswood School District in New Jersey. He is also a Google Certified Teacher and the author of the best-selling book Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times. You can connect with Eric on Twitter or Google+.

Times are changing, but educational leadership still requires vision, intention, and flexibility. As technology challenges us to move beyond our comfort zones, educational leaders must adapt. This is not as new -- or scary -- as some leaders might think. Leadership is no different today than it was years ago. The difference is that focus, awareness, and style need to evolve with the times if we’re to prepare students for a dynamic, social, connected world. Leadership is about action, not position.

We need to lead in a way to create schools that work better for kids. This kind of sustainable change demands digital leadership: taking into account developments such as anytime-anywhere connectivity, open-source technology, mobile devices, and personalization to enhance school culture with the help of technology

Google tools provide educational leaders with easy-to-use and cost-effective ways to enhance leadership and increase efficiency. They’re easily accessible through any web browser and work on any device. They can assist you as a leader to do what you do better:
  1. Chromebooks are cost-effective devices with laptop features that boot up in seconds and run for over eight hours on a single charge. They allow a user to pick up where she might have left off on any device using her Google profile. These devices great for accessing the suite of tools provided by Google Apps for Education
  2. Google Docs enables collaboration on announcements, newsletters and other shared documents. As a principal, I used Docs to create our daily student announcement. I posted the link on the homepage of our school website, shared each day using Twitter, Facebook, and the school app. Creating a template in Google Drive saved me time on formatting each day. 
  3. Google Forms helps teachers and school leaders to quickly and easily collect data and conduct surveys during observations and walk-throughs. This tool also enables polling and collecting survey data from students, staff, and community members. Data can be instantly graphed in simple charts, making results easily shareable.
  4. Google Hangouts support networking, video conferencing and remote learning. Hangouts allow live group video chats and Hangouts on Air allow staff members to record webinars that can be viewed later. Hangouts also allows teachers to connect their classes with others around the globe or bring in experts to speak with their class.
  5. Google Sites allows for facilitation of professional development for staff in both asynchronous and synchronous formats. Google Sites can be a platform for all your professional development resources, tutorials, videos, and session notes. 
  6. Google Blogger is an excellent tool for sharing school accomplishments and taking control of telling your school’s story through text, video and images
  7. Google Chrome Extensions are small programs that add new features to your browser and personalize your browsing experience. These free extensions not only optimize your Internet experience, but also can provide a great deal of enhanced functionality to your work as an educator. Check out some of my favorite extensions that are sure to help increase your productivity.
Digital leadership is about working smarter, not harder. Google tools enhance the work you’re already doing as a school leader. To learn more about Digital Leadership, you can take a look at this ICLE brief or Pinterest board on the topic.

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Google strives to increase educational opportunities in computer science and is committed to increasing the representation of underrepresented students in the broader field of technology. In order to do so, Google’s Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) was created to help high potential students prepare for college, build confidence, and be inspired to pursue a career in tech.

CSSI is a Google-hosted summer program that invites 90 rising college first-years to participate in a 3-week interactive curriculum and learn a practical introduction to computer science (HTML, CSS, Javascript, App Engine and more). Students partner in small teams to develop web applications, and ultimately present and demo their projects to Googlers who are enthusiastic to see their web apps come to life. Students designed and developed a wide variety of applications, from a strategic puzzle game called Nonograms to TaxiCop, an app which tracks and estimates taxi fares in Ghana.

The curriculum is built and maintained by Google engineers, with the intention of giving these students a head start in computer science concepts before heading off to college. With their new knowledge and skills, students are more confident, prepared for their first year of college, and inclined to graduate with a computer science degree. Randy (17), a past participant from Cambridge said;“Career-wise [CSSI] was incredibly helpful. Even though it’s not technically an internship, it really helps set me up for future opportunities. I've met a lot of really cool people here that I was able to connect with. I learned a lot, and because of this program I want to continue pursuing CS in college. It has impacted me a lot."

After completing CSSI, many of our participants also express an increase in readiness and confidence; Monica (17), a student from our Cambridge class said “I did not have much CS experience except one CS class from high school. Now I feel prepared for my CS classes in college. I feel like I can do projects on my own, which is huge. The program very much strengthened my technical skill set.”

If you’re interested in learning more about CSSI, please visit google.com/students/cssi for more details and stay tuned for more information about the program in January 2015.

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Editor's note: This is the 4th in our series of best practices in Edtech transformation. Today’s focus is on collaboration with guest author Peg Maddocks, Executive Director of NapaLearns, a non-profit in northern California. In this post, Peg shares how Napa County, a region with 47 schools of diverse needs, has scaled project-based learning with the help of Google for Education. Read more about their experience in their case study.

Napa is much more than wineries, restaurants and rolling hills. Despite the perceived wealth and luxury of the region, many families are in financial need. In Calistoga, for instance, 73% of families fall below the poverty line. Napa Valley Unified School District (NVUSD) serves 18,326 students, many of which have a history of limited access to technology. In 2012, NapaLearns partnered with NVUSD to create a program for promoting student engagement through project-based learning supported by technology.

We modeled the program on the approach of Napa’s New Tech High School, which serves 400 students. Since adopting Google Apps for Education in 2011, project-based learning has taken off at New Tech. Students use Google Docs and Sheets, stored and shared in Drive, along with Gmail and Hangouts, to work together on group projects. Students spend about 95% of their time solving real-world problems, like building a business plan for a local farm. This hands-on, collaborative approach has paid off—95% of New Tech graduates enroll in postsecondary education, compared to the standard of fewer than 40% in the region.

We wanted to bring project based learning to students in other schools, too, but we needed to do it at scale, and without the extra funds that New Tech High had used. But when we started, we found that many schools were still using PCs with slow, on-premise software, had no wireless networks and lacked enough devices for all students to use. At schools like St. Helena High School, our team worked with principals, administrators, IT leaders, teachers and families to support technology adoption. St. Helena switched to Google Apps for all of its students and teachers in 2012, and introduced Chromebooks for students in grades K-8.
By the end of summer 2013, 10 schools in NVUSD had started using Google Apps and Chromebooks to bring project-based learning to 7,200 students. Teachers who were early adopters of this approach have become examples for their peers. So far, the district has purchased 3,500 Chromebooks for schools, and NapaLearns also started an access program to offer Chromebooks on a low-cost installment plan for students in financial need. We also provide free devices to foster children.

Today, students are more often bringing their learning outside the classroom. Napa recently experienced a 6.0 earthquake that shut down schools for two days, but because their work was in the cloud, thousands of students were able to work on assignments from home. One student who was injured in the earthquake has been homebound, but with Google Apps, he’s been able to continue much of his school work from home, regularly having Hangout sessions with his teachers.

Overall our schools have made great progress. Up and down the valley, we’re seeing project-based learning and improved collaboration transform students, schools and the community we call home.

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(Cross-posted on the Google for Work Blog.)



Editor's note: Continuing our EdTech leadership series, today’s guest author is Ryan Bretag, Chief Innovation Officer at Glenbrook High School District 225, in Illinois. Since age six Ryan has “thought big” about education, questioning why we do what we do and how we can do better. After spending 15 years in schools, his current role focuses on innovation, whole-child education and technology initiatives. Ryan is also completing his doctoral work on spaces people inhabit for learning. To learn more check out the full interview with Ryan or view these recorded sessions on innovation at work from Atmosphere Live.




It’s probably shocking to hear this, especially now that I’m an educator, but when I was a student I really disliked school. I had a hard time because there was not a lot of freedom — there were so many constraints. But one day something memorable happened. My teacher asked us to write a story about a place of interest in the United States. I drew an underwater school of the future. My teacher gave me a zero and said I had not addressed the assignment, but she also gave me 100 points of extra credit for creativity. It was the first time that I was really rewarded for being creative. That teacher lit a fire in me.

When I became a teacher, I realized that technology was one of the best levers I had to give power to students. During my second year teaching, my director of technology came to me and said, ‘There’s this thing that people talk about where every kid has a computer — what do you think you could do with that?’ I responded, ‘Oh, I hate technology; I couldn’t do that.’ She said, ‘Just think about it.’ I spent a weekend thinking and came back to school Monday with about 50 pages of sketches and diagrams of things that I could do and shared with students to get their ideas. Next thing I knew, my class was one-to-one with a device for every student. I was hooked. Technology fundamentally changed everything about how I taught and more importantly how students learn — it created student choice and empowerment. It opened doors that I had never even seen before.

Now as the Chief Innovation Officer at Glenbrook I am trying to help the whole district improve learning for students by supporting learners, teachers and students alike, with technology and innovation. In my role I focus constantly on creating two things in our district: more ownership and agility. We want teachers and students to have more ownership to bring their own creativity and passion to their work. And we want them all to have more agility — to be able to move quickly with new ideas.

One thing we did to create more ownership and agility for our teachers was to audit of all our common practices. We asked ourselves, ‘do these practices create more ownership and agility or less?’ We then scaled practices that did and adjusted those that did not. This was one of the reasons we switched to Google Apps for Education. We saw that our old email and writing system didn’t provide enough ownership to students and teachers, but Google Apps did.

After a few years, I am happy to report that we’re seeing teachers take ownership of the IT tools. For example, when Classroom was introduced to Google Apps for Education, I simply sent an email announcing this to 500 faculty members. I included a few links to get started — that was it. A few weeks later, we had more than 200 people already using it. Five years ago, if I had sent that email people would have asked for training first, or been more apprehensive of a new tool.

We’ve also put curriculum in place to support autonomy and agility for students. One of the things that we’ve borrowed from Google is the notion of 20% time. It fascinated me that employees could spend 20% of their time learning whatever they wanted. We now do this across our schools. We run a program called Spartans Connect. It’s a one-day conference during which students run workshops about their passions. For example 250 kids attended one student’s workshop on Harry Potter — they dressed up and played Quidditch while also exploring the thematic components from mythology and religion. The student leader had hundreds of kids in the room, and she had them sitting on the edge of their seats.
At Spartans Connect, students got hands-on experience with the human body
My advice to other educators trying to create more ownership among teachers and students is to question what you are doing, the “why”, and encourage people to experiment with new ways to solve problems. When your teachers are empowered, they empower their students too. I think successful schools “embrace the crazy.” Be OK with some ideas being a little bit out there and be comfortable with some failure along the way.

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(Cross-posted on the Google for Work Blog.)

Editor's note: Continuing our EdTech leadership series, today’s guest author is Adam Seldow, Executive Director of Technology for Chesterfield County Public Schools in Virginia. In June we shared that Chesterfield purchased 32,000 Chromebooks for distribution to middle and high school students over the course of two years. Today, Adam explains how Chromebooks have impacted Chesterfield, and gives advice to other schools planning technology roll-outs of any size..

In the last few weeks, we’ve distributed approximately 14,000 Chromebooks to our middle school students in record time. This has been a welcome change — in the past with other tools the IT department had many hurdles. With Chromebooks, deployment has been easy. The simplicity of the devices combined with a lot of planning helped us enjoy a smooth (and painless) deployment. Below are our top six tips for districts preparing for their own Chromebook roll-outs:

1. Be transparent and communicate often 
Communicate often—more than you think you should. We communicate via our Anytime, Anywhere Learning website, which includes a section where people can submit questions. We post the answer to many of the questions we get on the site. Having a public website has two benefits. One, it informs the community when they have questions, and two, it unifies our message and provides the school administrators with a clear way to communicate about technology.

2. Check off prerequisites to make sure you’re ready to start
Before you get close to deploying devices, make sure the technology prerequisites are in place. For example, we tested and reconfigured our wireless network a number of times. We tested the Chromebook configuration and our settings in the Google Admin console a number of times. We gave Chromebooks out to a few kids to take home last year to test the home content filtering. We tested and tested and tested again. We had huge support in this preparation from our vendor, Dell, and their sub-contractor TIG (Technology Information Group), who had logistics like this down to a science.

3. Empower the schools in the planning 
In order to be successful when deploying Chromebooks, we involved the district's schools in planning. We met individually with each Principal and discussed everything from which room we’d use for Chromebook distributions to how they could enhance existing curriculum to benefit from the new technology. These meetings helped the schools realize that we weren’t going to take a one-size-fits-all approach for each school. The Tech Department alone should not run device distribution.

4. Make professional development fun and engaging 
We did three things that made our teacher training event a success:
(1) we made it fun; (2) we put the teachers in the students’ shoes; and (3) we made the full training optional. We asked for volunteers from the middle schools to join us for a two day training over the summer called “Camp Chromebook.” We didn’t know what to expect for sign-ups, because we weren’t offering to pay teachers to attend. On the day registration opened, all 300 spots filled up within a few minutes. At “Camp”, the teachers became the students: they went through a dry run of our onboarding process and visited different classes to learn different topics. Camp also helped us load-test our wireless network since we had 30-40 Chromebooks in each room. It was an unbelievable success, not to mention a really fun way to help faculty get to learn hands-on about the devices. When these teachers returned to school, they shared their knowledge with others who didn’t attend.
CIO by day, channeling "Camp Chromebook Director" Adam Seldow for training

"Campers" (teachers and administrators) at Camp Chromebook hard at work during training
5. Streamline the distribution of devices 
We aimed to get each school’s Chromebooks distributed in two days. To do this we:

  • Worked with schools over the summer and the early weeks of schools to send and collect all the necessary paperwork (e.g. parent permission forms, acceptable use policies, fees). 
  • Created a card with a scannable barcode for each student to show they had paperwork completed. 
  • Distributed devices to students during their English classes (since that is the only subject that every student has every year) and gave them cards with barcodes and their student ID number.
  • Brought students to the gym or media center by class. We’d scan the card and then have the student walk to stations to pick up their Chromebook, their charger, and their device case. We already had everything unboxed and ready to go. 
  •  Returned students to their English class immediately for an onboarding session

6. Have students and teachers learn about Chromebooks together 
After receiving their devices, students returned to their English classrooms for a 15 minute onboarding session led by one of our designated technology coaches. We had a technician on hand for any immediate support (e.g. spot changes for passwords). The session walked them through set-up: from logging in to taking selfies (what is it with people and selfies!?) and navigating the home screen. We also had each student activate the content filter, a critical step to keep them secure on the web.
After receiving their Chromebook, students returned to class for a 15 minute training session
Chromebooks have met their promise of easy set-up and management. I am happy to report that we exceeded our goal of getting all devices to each school in two days per school. When we roll out devices to other grades next year, I think we can get it down to one day per school. But we’ll keep “Camp” as two days — that was too much fun and too useful to shorten.

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(Cross-posted on the Google for Work blog.)

Editor's note: The New York City Department of Education Division of Instructional and Informational Technology recently approved Google Apps for Education as a supported tool for their schools. For the first post in our EdTech leadership series we interviewed the Chief Information Officer, Hal Friedlander. We’re inspired by his approach to understand schools’ needs, so asked him to share more about his team’s work and their decision to authorize Google Apps for Education & Chromebooks..

Part of what makes New York City unique is its diversity. Each of the five boroughs has a rich mix of people and cultures, which is reflected across the more than 1 million students at over 1,800 schools. While some see this variety and scale as a challenge in offering technology for schools, I see it as a benefit. In NYC, we have more schools innovating, more schools piloting technology and more schools leading the charge in finding the right tools for teachers and students.

At their core, schools are learning organizations. Teachers learn something new then help their kids learn it; they’re professional learners. And they know what they need much better than I do as an administrator. The Division of Instructional and Informational Technology (DIIT) team at the Department of Education listens to what educators want, understands what drives these asks, and then translates their needs into technology requirements and an IT strategy that helps students learn.

We take the same approach here in NYC as I did in my years working in the private sector — we use the customer engagement model. We treat schools as customers and engage them as advocates of the technology. The educators who live in the community and teach students every day have the best ideas about what they need in technology, not a guy like me who works at the 30,000-foot view. The job of my team is to support technology choices that will help the schools.

Over the last year, we saw more and more schools using Google Apps for Education. After evaluating it centrally we decided to add Google Apps to our list of approved and supported tools for NYC schools this year. A number of factors drove this decision. First, a number of schools were already using Google Apps for Education. Second, since Google Apps doesn’t require special technical skills, schools were able to customize the tools to meet their specific needs. This included everything from fostering parent engagement, to managing classrooms, to creating and sharing online curricula. Administrators told us they liked Google Apps because they could be as open or restrictive as they wanted in terms of how much communication they allowed beyond the school domain.

From a central office perspective, we authorized Google Apps because it integrates easily with our existing systems and we find it very easy to manage. This means tasks like setting up student sign-on for identity management are straightforward, and we don’t have to spend a lot of resources to manage domains. The tools are intuitive, so we haven’t had to offer much training. We created a NYC DoE Google Apps for Education Resource Center to help people get off and running.

We take the same approach to evaluating devices as we do to evaluating other tools. We saw that many schools wanted to use Chromebooks, and in our assessments, found them to be an affordable, manageable option for learning. So we worked with the OEMs to ensure Chromebooks met all our specifications, and added them to our list of approved school devices. We want the schools to have choices — whether it is a laptop or a tablet or both — across price range and functionality.

People say that things can’t move quickly in the public sector, but I don’t believe that. If you’re committed to listening to the schools, finding out what they need and setting goals against getting it done, you’ll make things happen.

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(Cross-posted on the Google for Work blog.)

Editor's note: Karen French works in instructional technology support for the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Education, helping to train the next generation of teachers.

The freshmen who enroll at the University of Texas at Austin have grown up in a world of ready-at-their-fingertips cloud applications that they can use anywhere and everywhere. However, storing files in the cloud and collaborating on documents in real-time is still a thing of wonder to me and the faculty in my department, the College of Education – we’re old enough to remember the days of sharing documents with thumb drives, not to mention marking papers by hand. Since our students have grown up with Google, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that in 2011 they cheered our decision to bring Google Apps for Education to UT Austin for 50,000+ students and 24,000 faculty and staff.

Campus-wide, Google Apps and Google Drive make learning and teaching much more flexible. On a campus this size, in the middle of a major city (with major traffic headaches), not everyone can always be in the same classroom at the same time to work together on a project. Students are used to shifting from a laptop to a tablet to a phone and back, and with Drive, they can get hold of the study guides or in-progress research papers when they need them on whatever device they’re on at the moment. Our campus users currently store nearly 5 million files on Drive today.
Longhorn students hard at work while enjoying the sun in front of UT Austin's George I. Sanchez building
“I initially came to school without a laptop, so I didn’t have a single, stable place to store all my files,” says Valentina Rodriguez, a second-year student in UT’s School of Architecture. “Using Google Drive, and knowing that I could access all my files and projects from anywhere with a WiFi connection, was a huge weight off my shoulders, and let me focus on succeeding academically instead of worrying about where to save my projects.”

For all of UT’s professors, as well as the future teachers we’re training at the College of Education, Google Apps has been a revelation. It’s upended, in a good way, how we reflect on and think about teaching. Google Apps takes down the walls and time constraints of being in a classroom. Teachers can collaborate with students outside of the usual class times, making learning happen more organically.

The collaborative benefits of Google Apps aren’t just for the classroom. Our professors use Google Docs to work together on papers for conferences. UT Austin administrative staff use Google Forms to get quick feedback without the need to collect paper surveys or wait for email responses.

Since Google Apps for Education is free for schools, it’s a boon to UT’s budget, but there’s another long-term benefit: Students keep their University of Texas email addresses and Google Apps accounts even after they graduate. As we say, “once a Longhorn, always a Longhorn.”

To learn more about Google solutions for Higher Education, join our webinar with Georgetown University on November 13 at 12pm PST and with Rowan-Cabarrus Community College on November 20 at 11am PST.

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(Cross-posted to the Google Research Blog.)

Last month we announced the Google CS Engagement Small Grants Program, which supports CS educators invested in improving engagement and retention in their classes. Today we announce the launch of EngageCSEdu, a comprehensive collection of high-quality open source instructional materials for introductory computer science courses that integrates research-based pedagogical practices for engaging and retaining students. Developed by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) in partnership with Google, the goal of EngageCSEdu is to support the retention of women and other underrepresented groups in undergraduate CS education.

The content in EngageCSEdu is unique in that each piece emphasizes student engagement in the classroom. The project team, consisting of computer scientists, learning scientists, and social scientists, applied current research on gender diversity, student engagement, computer science education pedagogy, and classroom environment to define a set of seventeen Engagement Practices for the classroom. These practices describe effective educational techniques such as incorporating pair programming, providing relevant and meaningful context, and avoiding stereotypes. The team performed a comprehensive review of all the material to ensure that each piece embodies or even exemplifies one or more of these techniques, "taking the guesswork out of finding and creating materials that offer introductory CS students an engaging educational experience,” says NCWIT CEO and Co-founder Lucy Sanders.

The content available at launch was amassed through an exhaustive survey of available online resources from over 3,000 colleges and universities across the country. This review process resulted in over 1,400 unique instructional materials from 120 institutions. All primary introductory programming languages and over 325 introductory computer science topics are represented, as well as the set of Engagement Practices mentioned earlier.

California State University Long Beach Professor of Computer Science, and EngageCSEdu project team member, Alvaro Monge says “The goal of the project team was to build something that is immediately useful for faculty, but will also persist and grow as a ‘living’ collection.” As such, the collection consists of individual teaching materials that can easily be integrated into the classroom, such as assignments, projects, labs, tutorials, and lecture slides. Additionally, all EngageCSEdu content is tagged with a comprehensive set of metadata that allows users to search and browse easily and efficiently.
The detail page for each piece of material provides a concise overview including a description of the Engagement Practices used, allowing faculty to easily understand how to incorporate the material into their classroom. Finally, rating, reviewing, commenting, sharing, and contributions of new material to EngageCSEdu are all available, ensuring that the community around these resources is engaged and that the collection stays fresh.

While EngageCSEdu is not designed to address all problems of retention in computer science, we hope that it will nonetheless become a valuable resource for the community of undergraduate computer science instructors. Maggie Johnson, Google Director of Education and University Relations, believes that “EngageCSEdu is a viable solution to help a broader set of students complete their computer science degrees,” and it is our hope that instructors will continue to use and contribute to the collection, ensuring a dynamic resource that remains relevant and useful in the future.

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(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog.)

Students and schools have done some amazing things with Chromebooks since we first launched in 2011. At the Urban Promise Academy in Oakland, Calif., students are using the Scratch program to create their own video games on Chromebooks. In Chesterfield County, Virginia, students get access to feedback and support from teachers after school hours using their Chromebooks. And in Fairfield County, South Carolina, schools saw double-digit gains on their state performance tests after they started to offer Chromebooks, Google Apps for Education and other technologies to their students, who often don’t have Internet access at home.
A student at Urban Promise Academy uses a Chromebook to design video games
Schools tell us that Chromebooks fill three big needs: they’re easy for students and teachers to use, they’re easy to share, and they’re easy to manage. That’s critical for schools that often want to give their students the best technology, but don’t have a large IT department to support it. And it’s part of what has made Chromebooks such a hit in schools. In fact, according to IDC’s latest report on tablets and laptops in K-12 education, Chromebooks are the best-selling device in the U.S. this year. And they’re continuing to grow in popularity—in districts like Montgomery County, MD (more than 50,000 devices), Charlotte-Mecklenberg, NC (32,000 devices) and Cherry Creek, CO (26,000 devices), who have all begun using Chromebooks in 2014.

Beyond the U.S., countries are looking at how they can use technology in the classroom on a large scale—like in Malaysia, where the entire national school system is using Chromebooks. This week, we’re hosting the Global Education Symposium, a gathering of education ministers from 18 countries working to implement technology that will help them meet their country’s educational agenda. We’ll hear from education leaders who are exploring new educational models, and look at how innovative local schools are using technology to help teachers and students excel.

It’s been thrilling to see how Chromebooks—alongside Android tablets, Google Play for Education, Classroom and Google Apps for Education, which is now used by 40 million students and teachers around the world—can help students meet their learning goals. We can’t wait to see what’s ahead as more students around the world gain access to new learning opportunities through technology.

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(Cross-posted on the Google for Work blog.)

We've tried to make managing Chromebooks for an entire district as easy as managing just a few. But when managing hundreds or thousands of Chromebooks, you may want to know about changes that are coming before they go to all your users. With the Chrome Beta Channel, you can do that easily. When you place devices on the Chrome Beta channel, you’ll be able to see what changes are coming weeks before they’re rolled out to all Chromebooks.

To make the most effective use of the Chrome Beta Channel, we recommend you place at least five percent of your organization's devices on the Beta channel. This allows you to become familiar with new features before they appear on the Stable Channel and prepare faculty and students for any interface changes. You’ll also have insight into specific problems that might affect your school and provide feedback to our team.
Enable the Chrome Beta Channel using the Release Channel setting in your Admin Console. With this setting you can assign devices to the Beta Channel by organizational unit, making it easy to control who in your organization will see these updates. Chrome Beta Channel is now at your service to help you protect and prepare your school.

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Over a year ago we began working with the UK Department of Education on their mission to make it easier for schools that are moving to the cloud to understand the issues of data security and protection and ensure that their service providers meet certain standards. We wanted to be involved to help schools more easily find answers to their questions, and know which questions to ask in the first place. This effort resulted in the UK Department of Education's Cloud Service Providers checklist, and we’re delighted to be a part of it.

This Cloud Services Checklist covers important legal requirements including data processing, data confidentiality and integrity, service availability and much more to help ensure that schools are fully aware of their legal obligations. Guy Shearer, the Head of IT and Data at the David Ross Education Trust says: "This very welcomed Department for Education checklist goes some way to putting informed guidance out there, in particular in giving schools a solid sense of the kinds of questions they should ask before choosing a cloud service. Google's response clearly sets out how they comply."

Google Apps for Education is actively used by more than 40 million students worldwide, so we’re very committed to enabling teachers and students to integrate technology into their classrooms through simple-to-use, cloud-based tools. Our responses— thoroughly reviewed by the Department of Education—can be accessed in full here.

We also know how important it is that schools have absolute confidence in the security of their data, which is why we’re so happy to participate in this important effort. Educators around the world should know how their student data is treated by cloud providers. Transparency is key to providing schools the information they need to make the best choices about their students’ education and to feel confident that they are being good stewards. We’re thrilled to be able to partner with the UK Department of Education, and others around the world, by putting tools into the hands of students and teachers that make teaching and learning exciting and fun, and safe.

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Get your spacesuits on -- INTERSTELLAR lesson plans are ready for middle and high school classrooms. Google Certified Teachers created 21 classroom activities around the new film from director Christopher Nolan, spanning a variety of topics and aligned to educational standards.

Whatever subject you teach, we hope these lesson plans get your students even more excited about it. Here’s a sampling of our favorites:

Gravity Weighing You Down, by +JR Ginex-Orinion
Students break into small groups, then design suits that simulate the increased gravity felt in the movie. They’ll complete a set of basic physical tasks with and without their gravity suits on, then analyze how an increase in gravity relates to an increase in effort.

Human Memories, by +Michael Hernandez
In the film, senior citizens reflect on their time in the dust bowl on earth. Students will conduct interviews with senior citizens in their local community about a specific time period or incident that they lived though and their reactions.

Mapping the Solar System, by +Shannon Tabaldo
In INTERSTELLAR, the astronauts traveled through this galaxy and more. To better understand the scale of their journey, students will research the distances of the planets from the sun and draw them in correct proportions and scale.

Recursion, by +Richard Kick
In INTERSTELLAR, Murph and Professor Brand discuss a mathematical proof that is recursive in nature, meaning the analysis referred to itself. This lesson will help students begin to understand recursion and how it can be applied to better understand our world.

How Far Away?, by +Eric Marcos
Determine how far it is to the nearest black hole, then create scale representations to visualize the distance.

Plan A or Plan B?, by +Moss Pike
Identify the assumptions and extraordinary risks that underlie each of the two plans the astronauts debate in the film INTERSTELLAR, then examine the forces that drive them.

Dust Bowl Planet, by +Will Kimbley
In INTERSTELLAR the world is going through a severe global food shortage caused by environmental changes that in a number of ways parallels the Dust Bowl. Students will explore the possibility of another Dust Bowl on a global scale.

INTERSTELLAR is now in theaters, so you can buy group tickets for a school field trip to the movies, then try out a lesson plan with your students. Tag posts and photos with #InterstellarEdu on Google+ or Twitter to share your class’ accomplishments. We can’t wait to see the results.

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People all over the world use Course Builder to pursue their online education goals. Whether it’s professional development for educators in Australia or entrepreneurship courses for the general public in Spain, Course Builder helps teachers of all kinds create and deliver online learning. As we continue our own experiments in online education, we want to ensure that people using the tool can create content that reaches as many students as possible in the best way possible.

Rewriting content for an online course can be time-consuming. Course Builder integrates with Google Drive so you can insert content into your courses without rewriting, reformatting, or cutting and pasting. You can also create new content using Google Docs, store it in Drive, and deliver it to hundreds of thousands of students in Course Builder. We’re working to support other apps along with Google Docs to make this integration even better.
You might be familiar with the complexity of translating course content into different languages—creating it in one environment, and translating in another, often with multiple people communicating via email about changes and delivery. We’ve created a collaborative translation management system in Course Builder that automatically identifies and “breaks up” your content into translatable chunks. The course author gives the translator permission to work on specific content and accepts or rejects their suggested work. The software notifies the translator with any changes to a piece of content.

Analytics is an important part of Course Builder. We’ve added new visualizations and Dashboard metrics to help you better understand your course and your students better. Teachers of small and medium courses can now see scores at the individual student level to get details beyond aggregate data.
With certificates, Course Builder automatically gives students a way to celebrate completing a course. The course author specifies the passing criteria for a course. Students who satisfy this criteria will get a personalized certificate in their Progress Dashboard.

We've made a number of improvements in the current release which you can learn about in our documentation. You can download Course Builder and build an online course yourself here.