Shorewood to Become a Google District
As the 2014-2015 school year gets underway, Shorewood Schools will continue to move into the new millennium by transitioning to a Google Apps for Education, or GAFE, District.
By becoming a GAFE District, Shorewood students and staff members will have access to Google Applications, or apps, including Google Docs, which is similar to Microsoft Word; Google Drive, which will allow students and staff to store work digitally, in the cloud; and Gmail, Google’s email service, as well as many others that can be used in the classroom.
Unlike traditional software programs, most of these applications can be accessed using any device with an Internet connection and do not need to be installed. As such, students and families will no longer need to purchase products like Microsoft Word or PowerPoint to complete a project at home.
This will allow students without home Internet access to use computers in public spaces, such as public libraries, to access all of their school files. Similarly, there are also GAFE applications that are compatible with and accessible on smartphones and tablets.
Many of the applications foster collaboration among students and staff members. For example, multiple users can work on a single Google Doc document together, at the same time, allowing for instantaneous feedback.
Each student will receive a District email address with built in features designed to protect students’ identities and ensure safety. Many of the safety features will be grade level specific. For example, first graders will only be able to email their teacher, while high school seniors will have much more open access.
Students’ full names will not be included in their email addresses, just the first three letters of their last name, and, if necessary, three numbers. (This is the same username that families and students currently use to access PowerSchool.) The District will also retain ownership of all student information and documents stored in the cloud, not Google.
As part of the transition, teachers and staff will receive Google training in August , before students return to school. During the first quarter of the school year, small pilot groups of students at each school will be testing out various Google applications before the GAFE platform is fully implemented during the second quarter.
According to Shorewood Technology Director Connie Jaeger, during the first quarter of the 14-15 school year, the District technology department will be working with building and grade level teachers to set age appropriate protocols for students. To ensure staff members are adequately prepared for the transition, the District will use a “train the trainer” model, which will give some staff members extra training this summer so they can assist their co-workers throughout the year.
While the GAFE applications will be compatible with Shorewood’s current laptops and desktops, thanks to the generous donations of SEED and the Lake Bluff PTO, the District will also be purchasing 260 Chromebooks for student use while at school to increase availability and access. (A Chromebook is portable, like a laptop, but runs Google’s Chrome Operating System and is designed to be used primarily while connected to the Internet, with applications and data residing in the cloud. Some applications, including Google Docs, can be used offline as well.) Netbooks, which are similar to Chrombooks, have also been purchased.
Students and staff will also notice an updated wireless network when they return to school in the fall. This summer, wireless Internet access is being enhanced at all District schools and buildings, with bandwidth, or speed, increasing by 150%. This will allow the District to support the devices used in the classroom as well as those being brought from home, particularly by older students.
Monday June, 23, 2014 at 11:00PM
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