Google is the Starbucks of the Internet and then some. Google Education is the largest conglomerate of Educational software and computer (Chromebook) sales to schools in the nation and will remain so for the unforeseeable future. According to 2017, CNN tech report, Google's Chromebooks made up 58% of all sales to schools in the United States. (Kelly, H, 2017, CNNtech) and both apple, HP and other PC computer sales have seen painful drops in revenues since the arrival of the Chromebook. Chromebooks, comparably, are not only cheaper than other popular manufacturers but come with an additional benefit of a free Google Classroom management platform (G Suite) that gives educators several tech tools to use in the classroom. G Suite has a vast array of products that are useful for 21st-century teaching and learning and are housed in one place for teachers to easily access.
Educational hardware and software are big business and for School Districts, Google products price point is undeniably better than all competitors. Combine that with the business of State mandated testing. In California, all mandated State testing (MAP test) requires a computer. Computer-based MAP testing replaced Star tests that were performed with traditional paper and pencil tests. Alas, Google marketers saw what was coming and capitalized on the testing market before their competitors woke up. Now Apple and HP are trying to regain their lost market shares, but this is not going to be easy. Why? because Google responded with a Classroom Management system that outperforms most other products and has been driven by educators needs and responses and was even field tested in the U.S. public school system.
Chromebook's $30 per computer contract includes free access to Google G suite for Education with applications such as Google Doc's, Sheets, Forms, Sites, Calendar, Gmail, and others. These apps can replace Microsoft Word and XL spreadsheets, Outlook calendar and email, Survey Monkey and WIX or Weebly website creators which individually cost much more. In addition, All of Google's free apps are shareable and assessable through a Google Drive. Microsoft and other companies often have proprietary barriers and are not interchangeable with other products. Google is also acquiring many emerging technologies to add to their repertoire of products for the Educational market. Pear Deck (one of my favorites), and Quizlet are now able to integrate into Google G suite products.
Whether one views Google as the largest and fasted monopoly on the planet or a responsive educational reformer, Google is the platform that seems to have stuck within our educational system. Like Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat, using these apps became apart of one's daily routine. Google's classroom platform will remain the popular tool in most classrooms today and into the unforeseeable future
For more in-depth information about the Google in Education debate open the following links.
“Fake News” has become the hot topic in today’s media. Studies have shown that most High School teenagers generally believe that what they see on the Internet as “fact” and rarely do they validate sources to prove or disprove what they read on-line. According to a recent Stanford University study, “some 82% of middle-school students couldn’t distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story on a website,” and “nearly four in 10 high-school students believed, based on the headline, that a photo of deformed daisies on a photo-sharing site provided strong evidence of toxic conditions near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, even though no source or location was given for the photo.” (Shellenbarger, 2016)
Determining fact from fiction on the Internet is and has always been a huge issue for most educators and learners who are engaged in research projects and general Internet searches in the classroom. Rarely do we find students who know if the information presented to them, online, is relevant or reliable information. Getting students to delve deeper into research problems or questions that go beyond Wiki searches can be problematic. Anderson & Raine (2012) found in their research that many people expressed deep concern “that trends are leading to a future in which most people are shallow consumers of information.” Moreover, that we are in an age of “entertaining distractions” and the Internet has an Orwellian control over us. (p.1) Not being akin to Dystopian thinking, the bigger picture for me is that our students are not learning how to conduct proper searches using the Internet for academic uses, and more importantly, for their intellectual development, and their understanding of the digital Information world that is full of consumer trickery. The socially networked society we now live in requires us to be highly capable information seekers skilled at vetting information on all our personal devices, and most importantly, for academic purposes and for work related technology tasks.
What is reliable information and what is not reliable information when searching on the Internet? How can I get students to know what it looks like? Without proper training, this can be difficult for students to detect when conduction online searches. Many high school students do not understand what is quality information on the Internet nor do they understand that it’s just not about finding the information and “re-arranging the facts,” but also how they use information to build opinion and perspective with the information they collect. In other words, using their “higher-order” thinking skills. (Kovalik, 2013, p.2) High school students at my high school are not formally taught a process for conducting academic searches, and rarely demonstrate the basic skills for vetting information using a framework for evaluating sources—author, currency, subject coverage, and balance. (Bomar, 2001) I have often observed high school students searching on-line and have found that many cannot differentiate between a personal opinion such as those found on a blog or wiki site, and information based on research from academic resource.
Heather McPherson and Margot Dube have already developed a four-step formal approach in “the teaching of research skills to teenagers with an emphasis on technology.” (McPherson & Dube, p.49) They centered their study on the 7-12th grades in any subject area. McPherson and Dube’, created four research steps to teach students IL in the classroom. They are as follows: 1. “Plan-Analyze the topic, find background information, and select search terms and resources; 2. Search-Use keywords and use search engine features; 3. Evaluate-Assess website quality and use a checklist; and 4. Fair Use- List the sources and use citation builder tools.” (McPherson & Dube, p.50) Their IL methods and teaching strategies have been tested and can be applied to most any classroom. Open the link to follow the 4-step process they recommend to teach Information Literacy in secondary classrooms.
Today's public school classroom has evolved to integrate new 21st century technologies, into the teaching and learning practices in the classroom. Students today, "Digital Natives," come to our classrooms with digital devices and also digital brains. They are socially networked all day with friends and sometimes foes, and have cyber lives much different than most of their parents (and teachers.) This is why teaching and learning today has evolved from posting assignments on the chalkboard to posting assignments on twitter, a classroom LMS, or even Facebook. We not only have to teach our subjects , but model cyber citizenship to our students. Teaching involves much more than a textbook and grading papers. Teaching is a balancing act of staying relevant to our students with educational technology while also keeping on top of our course content. Teaching today requires continually learning new ways to engage and inspire young minds to become contributing member of the future world they will inherit.
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I am a 25+ Classroom teacher and have been using technology in my classroom for about 10 years. I love creative ways to learn, and I'm always looking for great ideas, student projects and engagement activities to share in the classroom.
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Setting up a Wiki site with Google for your classroom