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

Educators across Latin America are changing what it means to “go to school” by introducing new learning models that prepare their students for real-world problems. Inspired by their ambitious goals and innovative approaches, we’re highlighting a few ways that schools in the region have made strides with the support of technology, including Google Apps for Education.

Building the groundwork for equal access
The Municipality of Vicente Lopez (MVL) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, created a program to give all students the same access to technology, regardless of socioeconomic background. All students and teachers use Google Drive to share worksheets and presentations, provide immediate feedback on shared documents, and work in teams while in class or at home. Teachers now learn from students, who have become experts in technology and taken ownership of their education.

Going digital without an IT staff
Colegio Banting in Mexico City has equipped its students with the best tools for success, even without resources to spend on staffing for IT. By introducing Google Apps for Education, they’ve interested students in educational technology, helped boost test scores, and improved communication between teachers, administrators, students and their families. Google Classroom makes it easier to assign homework, helping teachers and parents keep track of student work and progress.

Connecting face-to-face across many miles
Argentina’s San Andres University (UDESA) adopted Google Apps to encourage flexible learning through virtual classrooms while replacing their unstable email solution with Gmail. While Gmail was the initial reason for the switch, UDESA uses the full range of tools in the Apps suite to bring learning outside the classroom. Students use Hangouts to present their thesis projects remotely, and teachers invite outside experts, no matter where they’re located, to present about different topics.

Involving parents and teachers
In 2007, The American School Foundation (ASF) became the first school in Mexico to use Google Apps for Education, moving its 3,000 students to Apps while introducing weekly “technology office hours” for parents and teachers. As an early believer in the power of cloud-based technology, ASF wanted to equip its students with tools that would prepare them for the future. Beyond simplifying day-to-day processes and administrative workflows, ASF has created a supportive environment for all members of its community.

As schools across Latin America continue to develop and integrate technology into their curricula, they’re exploring ways to build learning spaces for curious minds both in the classroom and beyond. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for schools in the region.

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From downtown Manila to the remote reaches of West Java, technology is transforming education in South East Asia. A summit in Manila last week brought together over 400 principals, teachers and students who are using technology to enrich education in the Philippines. Meanwhile at the Jakarta Google for Education Summit, we learned how educators across the archipelago are creatively applying technology to engage students and run their institutions more efficiently.
A glimpse at the Google for Education Summit in Indonesia 
In Indonesia, dentistry students in Bandung no longer have to miss out on learning from the best teachers. Since implementing Google Apps for Education they now take lessons with the top lecturers over Hangouts and get feedback on their work in real time with Google Docs. They have also been able to work with students at other campuses in real time—drawing dentistry models using Google Draw and sharing them with Google Drive.

We heard from veteran math teacher, Tauhid S.P, who makes math more appealing to public school students in East Jakarta by bringing his teaching methods online. Instead of running traditional exams, Tauhid uses Google Forms to create digital quizzes, making tests a bit more fun for his students.

Technology is also helping these Indonesian institutions run more efficiently at an organizational level. Since moving to Google Apps, teachers at the Singapore International School have been better equipped to engage parents in what their children are learning. Instead of posting parents letters and forms, they can use Google Forms to get instant feedback and data, saving the school reams of paper and countless hours. Moving to Google Apps has also helped the Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember in Surabaya go paperless, not to mention $200,000 annual savings on storage, electricity and manpower costs.
Educators at the Google for Education Summit in Manila
We've been working with schools and universities across the Philippines since 2007, and the Manila Summit was a great opportunity to hear directly from educators and students about some of the impact to date. We heard from The Mindanao State University Iligan Institute of Technology who has saved substantial IT costs since moving to Google Apps. Students at the Xavier School in Manila tell us that doing their homework is more enjoyable with Google Apps. After hearing about some of this positive impact technology is making in the classroom, members of the Philippines’ business community pledged to support more schools’ digitization process so that more students can experience the benefits of the web for learning.

We’re humbled to be working with schools, teachers and their broader communities to equip students across Indonesia and The Philippines with the skills they’ll need to thrive in the 21st century. Who knows what they'll come up with next.

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(Cross-posted on the Google Drive Blog.)

Last month, we partnered with National Novel Writing Month to see what happens when three writers come together, online from three different cities, to create a short story in Google Docs. The three authors—Edan Lepucki, Tope Folarin, and Mike Curato—had one hour to create the story, based on an opening line submitted by Docs user Lauren Lopez in Malaysia.

Watch this short (and pretty entertaining) video to see how it all went down:
You can read the final story at g.co/docsnano, and watch their unedited process and Q&A in the original Hangout on Air.

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Computer Science (CS) is quickly becoming a key component of student learning. From engaging projects and after school programs to robust online educational programs and extensible programming languages, there are a wide range of online resources and materials that make learning how to code even more accessible. As all these new and exciting online CS programs and tools continue to become available, however, finding and exploring new resources can be challenging. If you are a teacher with limited exposure to, or experience with, CS or programming, we know that this initial search experience can be even more difficult.

To help address this challenge, we created Computer Science (CS) Custom Search, a search engine that has been customized with over 550 different CS websites to connect you to CS education-related resources. Because it can sometimes be difficult to find the right CS instructional material and program, we’ve made it easier for you to find instructional materials using common educational terms, such as ‘worksheets’ and ‘projects,’ as well as with queries on more complex search strings.
To help support users with different levels of experience with CS, there are example search terms to provide you with some context for your initial search. The suggested search queries on the landing page are intended to help less experienced users begin their exploration of CS and more experienced users discover even more CS programs or tools.
Research shows that educators significantly impact how students perceive and experience CS. Current employment trends indicate that there will be a shortage of trained computer scientists ready to fill the projected 1 million CS-related jobs in the U.S. by the year 2020 and so you have the opportunity to play an important role in preparing your students for future career opportunities. We hope that CS Custom Search will help you find the tools and programs you need to bring CS to your own classroom.

Please check out CS Custom Search and let us know how it works for you. Our goals are to continue to increase the number of sites on CS Custom Search in parallel with the ever-expanding list of new resources and to ensure that the search experience continuously reflects the needs of its audience - the education community.

Want to share feedback about your CS Custom Search experience? Send us an email at cs-custom-search@google.com

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In an earlier post Working Together to Support Computer Science Education, Chris Stephenson describes how achieving systemic change in computer science (CS) education involves a multitude of factors including collaboration among researchers, educators, parents, policy-makers, students and the media. In addition to our own outreach programs and research, we also support organizations and invest in programs that are making strides to increase access to CS education in schools.

In October, we supported the Alliance for California Computing Education for Students and Schools (ACCESS) by convening some of the nation’s leading researchers and practitioners in CS education. The ACCESS gathering was an energetic and action-packed day for developing pathways for K-12 CS education in California, with a particular focus on equitable access for all. With the recent signing of three bills for CS education in California, this was a major step toward making quality CS available in California K-12 schools. The summary report of the convening can be found here.

These efforts in California, a key state in the national education picture, are critical to the forward momentum for CS education across the United States and globally, and they’re just the beginning. The importance of CS is recognized globally, and we aim to take advantage of these opportunities to increase quality and availability of CS education. In England, where Computing was recently implemented as part of its National Curriculum, we have been working in partnership with Code Club Pro to kick start a national program to train primary school teachers across the country and with Teach First to recruit and train CS teachers in secondary schools.

A big part of our focus on CS education is ensuring that everyone, regardless of background, has appropriate access to quality CS education. Issues of equity in education vary dramatically by location and situation. That’s why our efforts are supported by local Googlers in our offices worldwide, from Japan to Spain to Australia. Our global presence means that we can tailor our outreach locally to cultures and customs, because quality education does not have a one-size-fits-all scenario. Driven by data, we can provide strategic and effective support for CS education, in close collaboration with the local stakeholders. For instance, we empower our RISE partners to evaluate their programs so that they can understand what is effective for their specific organization as well as their students. We hold monthly Hangouts on Air to share the latest CS education research and best practices for these partners to incorporate and adapt for their programs.

At Google, we are working to empower the youth today to be the creators of tomorrow. It’s a long and complex journey, but in partnership with local organizations around the globe, we hope to ensure that everyone has equitable access to CS education.


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Editor's note: Today’s guest author is Alice Keeler, a Google Certified Teacher, New Media Consortium K12 Ambassador and LEC Admin & Online and Blended certified. Alice taught high school math for 14 years and is an Adjunct Professor of Curriculum, Instruction and Technology at California State University Fresno. Alice coaches teachers and administrators on using technology in the classroom.

In my high school and college classes, I’m one teacher working with up to 150 students. With this kind of ratio, I just can’t give students feedback fast enough; but giving that feedback as immediately as possible helps increase their motivation and accelerate learning opportunities. Peer evaluation allows students to get feedback faster, learn from each other, and helps them better understand the grading rubric by applying it to their classmates.

Google Forms makes peer evaluation possible and simple. I collect the names and email addresses of both students: evaluator and evaluatee. I use the “grid” style question type to allow peers to rank each criteria on a scale of 1-5 against the rubric. I can include a URL to the grading criteria in the help text, so all students have access to the standard assessment guide.

To be successful, students must not only be instructed in—but also practice giving—quality feedback. With Google Forms, it’s easy to add help text that tells students what to review and comment on. Peer evaluators can add details to their feedback—such as what they liked or constructive criticism—using the comment boxes. This increases the quality of their feedback.

Google Forms also connects this peer evaluation data to a Google spreadsheet on the backend. This places all of the peer evaluation data in one location that is nicely organized and easy to analyze. With the summary of responses feature in Google Forms, I can see a quick snapshot view of overall student performance. Using the pivot table feature in the data menu, I’m able to quickly find summary data of how students evaluated their peers. I can also create a separate pivot table to tally how many of each rank a peer evaluator provided. This helps determine how fairly the peer evaluator is assessing his or her peers.

To make it even easier to sort and organize data, I format my questions consistently with “multiple choice,” “choose from a list,” “checkboxes,” “scale,” or “grid” styles. To streamline name and email collection, I use the pre-filled URL option, like this.

Rather than creating a unique URL for each student, I have students list their names and emails in a Google Sheet and use a formula to pre-populate their information into the peer evaluation form. And when working on group projects, multiple student names can be pre-populated into the peer evaluation form, too.

Providing students feedback from their peers quickly is essential. After checking the spreadsheet comments to make they are appropriate and helpful, I email them out. Google Sheets Add-Ons provide the ability to use mail merge to send students the peer feedback. Using the Add-On “Yet Another Mail Merge” returns feedback to the students via email in one action.

Google Forms makes the challenging task of managing peer feedback simple and fast. Since peer feedback can be delivered in minutes, I save class time and eliminate handing out and collecting paper forms. Thirty students in a class can generate up to 900 peer evaluations. This data can be analyzed quickly and easily, without manually tallying results. Feedback can be returned to students within a day rather than weeks later. With this process, students can receive feedback quickly, which helps increase their attention and motivation in class.

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(Cross-posted on the Google Africa Blog.)

From preschool through university and beyond, schools across Africa are using technology to enhance learning on campus and online. Here are three examples of schools in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya that have made incredible strides with Google for Education.

The Distance Learning Centre (DLC) of Nigeria’s University of Ibadan was established in 1988 with the aim of providing Off-campus learning options to students whose schedules and locations make it hard for them to study full-time at the main campus.

Today, the DLC uses Google Apps for Education to run a number of its admissions and study systems for over 30,000 teachers and students from different locations. For example, student registrations, course material distributions and assignment submissions processes are easily managed via Gmail, Drive, Docs and Sites. Lectures and other important university events are live-streamed via Google Hangouts.

The Center recently adopted Google Classroom with very positive impact on assignment management and interaction.
SPARK Schools, an independent school network in Johannesburg, South Africa, implemented a blended learning model using Google Apps and Chromebooks. This model provides students with self-paced learning, allows teachers to create personalized instruction based on assessment data, and also enables SPARK schools to operate at a much lower cost per pupil.
With the plan to open two new schools next year and continue doubling the number of students it reaches each year, SPARK foresees that Google Apps, including Drive, Docs and Hangouts, will enable staff to participate in discussions and collaborate on joint projects across multiple locations.

Kabarak University, located just outside Nakuru, Kenya, uses Google Apps to help students make their voices heard. Students now use Google Forms to share their comments with administrators about all aspects of university life.

The university also created a Google Site to centralize information like term dates, campus news and sporting events. Some lecturers have created their own Sites to store class resources and lessons. “From community outreach to advanced plans to launch online degrees and e-learning, we’re creating a new online learning culture” says ICT Director Moses Thiga.

Many schools like these are eliminating the barriers to quality education using Google Apps for Education and Chromebooks. In fact, new Chromebooks from Acer are now available in South Africa.

If you’re interested in discovering other schools around the world that have gone Google and learning more about bringing Chromebooks to your school, visit our site.

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As 2015 approaches, we’re eager to open applications for our Computer Science for High School (CS4HS) award program. Since 2009, the CS4HS program has been providing funding to universities, colleges, and educational non-profits to create computer science professional development opportunities for K–12 teachers around the globe. In 2015 we are excited to be expanding CS4HS to new regions, opening it up to more delivery methods, and making it more relevant for teachers.

Reaching more teachers
This year we are accepting applications from India, Latin America, and Southeast Asia to expand our reach. Our hope is that by developing in-country talent in these regions we can help contribute to the country’s overall economic growth and further enrich the global CS community. Along with these new regions, we look forward to receiving applications from Africa, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, China, Europe, and the Middle East.

Focusing on the new US Computer Science AP Course 
We believe the new Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles (CSP) course being developed by the National Science Foundation and the College Board is key to engaging a more diverse audience of students in computer science. Adoption and exemplary teaching of this course requires a community-wide effort to prepare teachers. To that end, in 2015 the CS4HS US program will be providing awards to universities and educational non-profits interested in helping their local teacher community prepare to teach CSP.

Research (Joyce & Showers, 2002; Wiske, Stone, & Levinson, 1993) shows that peer-to-peer professional development and on-going support improve teachers’ abilities to adopt and implement new content and skills. Based on this research in 2015, we will provide funding support for:

professional development workshops (face to face, online, and blended instruction) focused on CSP establishment of, or work with, existing communities of practice (COP) that will support ongoing professional development and advocacy for CSP on an ongoing basis.

Getting started with your application
Specifics vary from region to region, so please visit the CS4HS website to learn more about the eligibility requirements and deadlines specific to you, and to get started on your application. We hope this year will provide many opportunities to partner with the CS education community to grow and strengthen CS teachers around the globe. We hope you’ll be a part of it, and look forward to reviewing your application.
Teachers from Hanes Magnet School learning about why computers store everything in binary at a Wake Forest CS4HS workshop

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“Don’t just buy a new video game — make one. Don’t just download the latest app — help design it. Don’t just play on your phone — program it.” - President Barack Obama
We couldn’t agree more, Mr. President. Which is why we’ve celebrated Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) since its launch in 2009. Over the last five years, CSEdWeek has provided an opportunity to promote Computer Science education worldwide, a goal that Google shares and supports.

At Google, we aim to inspire young people around the world not just to use technology, but to create it. To accomplish this, we need more students pursuing an education in Computer Science (CS), particularly girls and minorities, who have historically been underrepresented in the field. CS is a gateway to innovation in many fields, from bringing the White House tree lighting to the digital age, to creating a breath to speech communication device for disabled individuals. We’re proud to support the Hour of Code and many organizations, including Black Girls Code and National Center of Women in Technology, who work year-round to increase access to Computer Science for all students.
Students at a CS First club exploring game design and storytelling via Scratch, a visual programming language developed by MIT
With a projected 1.4 million jobs in CS available by 2020 and a world Made with Code, now is the time to explore Computer Science. With so many resources out there, we wanted to highlight some ways to access and learn more about Computer Science learning materials.

For parents:

  • Made With Code: Careers in Computer Science and related subject areas will continue to be in high demand for the foreseeable future. Check out the Made with Code article about Why Coding is Kind of a Big Deal
  • Research: When it comes to introducing CS to your daughters, research shows that encouragement (especially from families) and exposure to computing are top factors that can influence a young woman’s decision to pursue CS.

For students:

  • Hour of Code: Be sure to check out Code.org’s plethora of introductory coding resources during CSEdWeek and year-round. Opportunities include mobile-friendly coding puzzles, game design and even computer-free unplugged CS
  • CS First: CS First is a free, informal program, designed by educators and computer scientists at Google, that equips volunteers with materials needed to run after school, in school, and summer CS programs. The online lesson plans introduce CS via interactive Scratch modules, with topics ranging from game design to music display. 
  • Made with Code: Between coding your first dancing yeti and dreaming with young women who code the world they want to see, there is plenty to explore at Made with Code
  • More opportunities: For students looking to deepen their experience in CS, be sure to try out an open-source coding task with our Google Code-in contest, or apply for a three-week immersion in CS at the Computer Science Summer Institute.

For educators: 

  • Code.org: Code.org provides educators with top-notch tools for hosting an Hour of Code or learning about local CS curriculum opportunities.
  • CS4HS: Computer Science for High School is an annual grant program promoting Computer Science education worldwide by connecting educators to the skills and resources they need to teach CS & computational thinking concepts. Applications open December 8. 
  • EngageCSEdu: Are you looking for support in starting your own introductory CS course in a university or community college? EngageCSEdu is an open-source collection of dynamic curriculum aimed to shape and grow access to great introductory CS courses, created by NCWIT and Google. 
  • RISE: Not-for profit organizations that teach CS to underrepresented K-12 students are encouraged to check out the Google RISE Awards for grant and partnership opportunities.

To us, promoting Computer Science education is a year-long occasion. So this CSEdWeek, we hope you’ll start exploring the power of code.

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Classrooms full of middle schoolers aren’t often the quietest places, but in our new computer science (CS) and coding club called CS First, we’ve seen students quietly enthralled with their chance to code beats, send fashion models down the runway, or create stories that about their lives. To date, more than 6,000 students across the globe have taken part in a CS First club, and we’re excited for the many more who are about to join us through our new partnership with Teach for America.
This middle schooler just created something awesome with code
Joining forces with Teach for America (TFA) is a natural fit, since one-third of corps members currently teach a STEM subject. Together, we’ll be able to bring CS First to even more classrooms across the US and help shift students' relationship with computer science. One 7th grader says of his first experience: "Today I learned how to lay an underlying track on a song or music video. My favorite hip hop and rap artists do the same thing! Today was the best learning experience.”

And it’s not just for the students! Jaishri Shankar, an 8th grade science teacher at Kingstree Middle School in South Carolina, says:
"Since taking on the CS First curriculum, my students have a much more "down-to-earth" understanding of what computer science really is, and what's better is that they understand and believe that they can be computer scientists. It's not a lofty, complicated concept, but rather, a very attainable skill with tangible outcomes at the end of each session, and that gives them such a unique sense of thrill and accomplishment."
We’re excited for this partnership to kick off in January 2015, and we hope you’ll join us. No background in CS is necessary and we’ll give you all the right tools to just get going. And if you’re a current TFA Corps member, be sure to tell us so when you sign up.

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(Cross-posted on the Google for Work Blog

The landscape of cloud technology has changed significantly since we started selling Google Apps in 2006, and our breadth of offerings has changed with it. Today, millions of companies and schools around the world turn to Google's products to help them launch, build and transform their organizations in the cloud. Our commitment to bringing the best of Google to work has also grown substantially.

Our partners are a fundamental part of our business and this effort. Partners help customers move, live and grow in the cloud by taking full advantage of the Google for Work and Education suite of products. They onboard and train new customers, manage change, create specialized software to integrate with Google Apps and develop unique solutions using Google Maps and Google Cloud Platform.

In order to meet the needs of customers moving to the cloud, and a new generation of partners, we’re updating our partner program. Our existing programs across Apps, Chrome, Cloud Platform, Maps and Search will fuse into one Google for Work and Education Partner Program. The new program allows partners to better sell, service and innovate across the Google for Work and Education suite of products and platforms.
Our new partner program is simple in design, having just three tracks, each designed to address specific customer needs (partners can join multiple tracks):
  • The Sales Track is for partners whose core competency is marketing and selling Google for Work and Education products at high volume. Selling includes ongoing account management
    and renewals associated with a partner’s customers.
  • The Services Track is for partners who provide the full range of services to customers, such as selling, consulting, training, implementing and providing technical support for Google for Work and Education products.
  • The Technology Track is for partners who create products and solutions that complement, enhance or extend the reach or functionality of Google for Work and Education products.
To ensure the best customer experience, we have also updated the requirements and application process for the Google for Work and Education Partner Program, which will roll out in early 2015. Partners will receive a range of benefits to help them better support customers, including:
  • Access to Google for Work Connect, our one-stop community for partners to access marketing campaigns, sales content, support resources and training
  • Ongoing program communications
  • Console to manage customer accounts
  • Use of the designated Google for Work or Google for Education Partner badge
  • Resale discount on the list price of our suite of products
  • Listing in our partner directory
We will also offer an updated Premier tier, which is reserved for partners that have demonstrated higher levels of excellence within their track. Premier partners will receive exclusive benefits and support, including:
  • Designated partner manager support
  • Co-marketing opportunities with Google
  • Access to marketing funding and other financial incentives
  • Exclusive training and events
  • Use of the exclusive Premier Partner badge
From Cloud Sherpas to Sprint, Ancoris to Devoteam, CDW to Promevo, and many more, our partners are helping transform businesses around the world. With the new Google for Work and Education Partner Program, we will continue to invest in creating world-class business relationships with our customers and provide the support and investment our partners deserve.

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We’ve been working hard to expand opportunities for educators to learn more about Google for Education and the impact technology can have in the classroom. To do this we’ve held events and trainings around the world from Brazil to Mexico to The Netherlands, and beyond. And this week we’re thrilled to host our first Google Teacher Academy (GTA) and Google Educator Group Leaders Summit in India.

The two-day event will provide Indian educators with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with Google’s educational tools, learn about innovative instructional strategies, share resources with peers, and meet other educators who share their passion for creating classrooms of the future.

50 innovative educators will join us for this Google Teacher Academy held in India. They’ve been selected based on their professional experience, their passion for teaching and their creative use of technology to enhance learning. Once educators attend the GTA, they become Google Certified Teachers (GCTs), joining a global community of outstanding educators who have the desire to make an impact in their local communities and beyond.

Along with the GTA, we’ll also be hosting 40 leaders from 10 cities across India for a Google Educator Group (GEG) India Leaders Summit. Google Educator Groups are communities of educators around the world who learn, share, and inspire each other to meet the needs of their students through technology solutions, both in the classroom and beyond.
Love inspiring the teaching community to use technology? Get involved or even start a new GEG chapter for your city!

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

Editor's note: Today’s guest author is Rudy Blanco, Digital Learning Coordinator at The DreamYard Preparatory School, in the Bronx, New York. He is a product of the New York City public school system and spent three years as a special education teacher at DreamYard Prep. In his current role, Rudy focuses on teaching students and other teachers how to learn through the use of technology.

DreamYard Prep is a public high school in the Bronx where arts and scholarship closely overlap. As a Title I public school in an underserved community, we see the unique potential of technology to prepare our students for an increasingly digital world. The culture at DreamYard Prep encourages teachers, students and staff to try innovative approaches. If you have a crazy idea, you try it out, remix it and make it work. Through this experimentation, we’re trying to achieve our ambitious goal of infusing our curriculum with the arts, social justice and digital learning.
For us, technology is a way of showing what we’ve learned, publishing and amplifying it. Before we started using Google Apps for Education three years ago, we had very basic Word Processing and outdated computers. We wanted to introduce technology that would improve gateway skills like research, communication and productivity. So at the start of the 2011 school year, we created Google accounts for all teachers, students and staff. We now have 650 Apps users and 150 devices, including 60 Chromebooks and 15 tablets. This year, we introduced Classroom to 13 classes across grades and subjects.

By using Google Drive and Classroom, science teacher Emily McLaughlin saves over eight hours each month that was previously spent printing, copying, distributing and grading student packets. Now, she simply creates a Google Doc and uses Classroom to share it with her students. Emily and her students work together in Docs, making edits and conversing through comments. A new set-up in Emily’s classroom reflects this collaborative learning — students gather in pods of four rather than facing the front of the class. These pods of students give each other feedback and answer questions together. Even across classes, students work together. Ninth graders in my digital literacy class, for instance, teach their research skills to 10th graders in Emily’s class. We want students to know they have the power to teach not only themselves, but also each other.

With Google Drive, students can edit, store and share everything. They type assignments in Google Docs, create presentations using Slides, and organize their body of work in Drive folders. At any moment, an administrator can click a button to pull up work by all 370 of our students: .jpgs of visual art projects, English papers, lab reports, and videos of peer interviews. The revision history and comments in Docs allow us to see a project’s evolution over time.

We took this archive one step further and kicked off a portfolio program in partnership with Parsons The New School for Design. Each student creates his or her own blog, archive of work from grades 9-12, and a digital portfolio using Google Sites or platform of choice. The program began last year with four teachers and has since doubled. We hope, over the next several years, to expand the portfolio program to all classes at DreamYard Prep and help every student share his or her story with the world.

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(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog.)

Carol-singing, hot chocolate, latkes and ice skating are all things that get us into the spirit of the holidays. But now there’s a new way to deck the halls: with code.

Earlier this year, we introduced a program called Made with Code to inspire millions of girls to try coding, and help them understand the creative things they can do with computer science. Starting today on madewithcode.com, girls can use the introductory programming language Blockly to animate the lights of the state and territory trees that will decorate President’s Park, one of America’s 401 national parks and home to the White House, through the holiday season.

The programmed lights will debut at the 92nd annual National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, which will air on PBS nationally throughout December in partnership with the National Park Foundation and National Park Service. The tradition of the tree lighting ceremony dates back to 1923 when President Calvin Coolidge lit the first fir tree outside the White House, and this is the first year kids from across the country will be in control of the state and territory holiday tree lights!
As the mom of two girls, I know that technology is a pathway for their future success. Still, even as coding becomes more important, less than 1 percent of high school girls say they’re interested in pursuing computer sciences in college. But I'm also an engineer, so I’ve seen firsthand how exciting CS can be. I fell in love with code early—my dad was an engineer and he encouraged me to enter a programming competition in the seventh grade. I gave it a shot, and I’ve never looked back. Ever since that day, I’ve known that when I program something, I’m creating something totally new for the world.

That’s what Made with Code is about: discovering that creating something new and exciting—whether it’s a holiday tree, a video game or a driverless car—can be accomplished with the power of code.

But it’s also about building an ecosystem of support for girls through parents and teachers, and to show girls other women who are using CS to achieve their dreams. This challenge also kicks off Google’s commitment to CSEdWeek, a week dedicated to inspiring students to get interested in computer science that’s become one of the biggest education initiatives online. Over the coming week, thousands of Googlers will join the hour of code, and announce a few other special projects that we will fund through the holiday season and coming year.

I’m heading to Washington, D.C. this week to be a part of the ceremony, and I’m looking forward to watching the designs from girls across the country lighting up the nation’s capital—and inspiring my daughters and so many others with the power of code.

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(Cross-posted on the Open Source blog.)

We believe that the key to getting students excited about computer science is to give them opportunities at ever younger ages to explore their creativity with computer science. That’s why we’re running the Google Code-in contest again this year, and today’s the day students can go to the contest site, register and start looking for tasks that interest them.
Ignacio Rodriguez was just 10 years old when he became curious about Sugar, the open source learning platform introduced nationally to students in Uruguay when he was in elementary school. With the encouragement of his teacher, Ignacio started asking questions of the developers writing and maintaining the code and he started playing around with things, a great way to learn to code. When he turned 14 he entered the Google Code-in contest completing tasks that included writing two new web services for Sugar and he created four new Sugar activities. He even continued to mentor other students throughout the contest period. His enthusiasm for coding and making the software even better for future users earned him a spot as a 2013 Grand Prize Winner.

Ignacio is one of the 1,575 students from 78 countries that have participated in Google Code-in since 2010. We are encouraging 13-17 year old students to explore the many varied ways they can contribute to open source software development through the Google Code-in contest. Because open source is a collaborative effort, the contest is designed as a streamlined entry point for students into software development by having mentors assigned to each task that a student works on during the contest. Students don’t have to be coders to participate; as with any software project, there are many ways to contribute to the project. Students will be able to choose from documentation, outreach, research, training, user interface and quality assurance tasks in addition to coding tasks.

This year, students can choose tasks created by 12 open source organizations working on disaster relief, content management, desktop environments, gaming, medical record systems for developing countries, 3D solid modeling computer-aided design and operating systems to name a few.

For more information on the contest, please visit the contest site where you can find the timeline, Frequently Asked Questions and information on each of the open source projects students can work with during the seven week contest.

Good luck students!

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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.