Google Apps: Coming to a Public School Near You

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Google Apps: Coming to a Public School Near You
Google is teaming up with public schools to improve test scores, reduce behavioral issues, and save school districts money. Learn about the Google Apps program and the benefits seen by states embracing the technology.
Today's students must be well versed in much more than the three traditional "Rs" that have carried public education for the past century. In order to compete in a global marketplace, students must also know their way around the most recent technology utilized in the workplace today.
To help students and teachers in achieving that goal, Google Apps is ready to bring technology into the classroom – in real time, no less. In a recent agreement between Google Apps and a host of states across the country, more and more public schools will see the results of technology in the classroom.
Using Google Docs in the Classroom
According to a recent entry on the Official Google Blog, Google Apps can provide a multitude of uses in today's classroom, including:
  • Gmail that allows students and teachers to easily communicate with one another
  • Docs that give students the opportunity to turn in assignments to the teacher right from the student's own computer
  • Sites that give students access to assignments, lesson plans, and research material any time of the day or night
  • Groups that provide additional opportunities for students to interact with instructors and classmates online
The addition of Google Apps makes the entire classroom more interactive, as teachers have the ability to coach students throughout the course of their assignments, and students have easy access to ask questions and get feedback. The "anytime, anywhere" access allows students and teachers to tailor their work time around their own schedules, rather than restricting them to standard school operating hours.
Benefits of Google Apps in the Classroom
Google Apps offer a host of benefits in the average public classroom today, according to a recent blog on Mashable. These benefits include:
  • Money savings for the schools
  • Motivational boost for students that improves academic performance
  • Prepares students for technology use in the professional world
According to this blog, the Oregon Department of Education plans to save as much as $1.5 million in academic expenses each year, just from adding Google Docs to the classroom. The Maine Township District 207 in Illinois plans to save up to $160,000 in their small district each year.  These savings are welcomed by most school districts across the country who are enduring severe budget cuts.
Some schools are also finding reading and math scores have a tendency to improve when Google Apps are used to enhance the learning environment. The Illinois school district listed above plans to increase reading test scores by three points, based on current research data conducted at other schools using this technology.
One of the primary reasons attributed to a jump in scores is the increase in student interest when technology is incorporated into the classroom. In addition to higher test scores, some schools using Google Apps also report that behavior issues are down.
Google Apps can also prepare students for real-world experiences by teaching them how to use the latest technology to their advantage. Innovative resources included in the apps encourage students and teachers to leave the confines of the textbook and explore the topic in more creative ways. Students can also use Google sites to manage their coursework and prepare and turn in assignments without the need for a paper copy. With more and more businesses using this technology in a similar fashion, it is a much easier transition for students to make between the world of academia and the professional world.
States Jumping Onboard
While the Oregon Department of Education was the first to sign onto the Google Apps agreement, other states were quick to follow suit. According to another blog post at the Official Google Blog, Colorado and Iowa were the next in line for the distinction. Colorado Governor Bill Ritter said, "By leveraging the Internet, educators are able to bring new ways of learning to the classroom and connect with students in exciting and challenging ways."
The Maryland Education Enterprise Consortium also announced plans to make Google Apps available to more than 1.4 million students across their state, according to another blog entry. This will bring the technology to all 24 public K-12 school districts in Maryland, as well as libraries and both public and private institutions of higher education.
New York was the fifth state to hop onboard the Google Apps bandwagon, providing training and support for Google Apps to more than 697 public school districts across their state.
As more states recognize the importance of incorporating the latest technology into the classroom, undoubtedly other states will join the agreement as well.
Questions? Contact us on Twitter. @publicschoolreview

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