Feb 15, 2012

Google Apps for Education taking root in online learning environments

This is a guest post by Lindsey Harper Mac. Today’s college students grew up with Google. To them, Google has always been a verb and that little search box has always been the gateway to information on just about anything. The average college freshman entering a university today will Google something before heading to the library to research it in the traditional way. In light of this, it is no wonder that the Google Apps for Education platform is starting to take over the world of education.

Connectivity with lower cost

According to Google.com, more than 60% of the Top 100 schools in the United States use Google Apps for Education. This number will only continue to grow as more and more universities embrace free programming in their schools. Online colleges will especially benefit as administrators need to find affordable ways to keep students and faculty connected in spite of the geographic distance between them. Incorporating Google Apps for Education into the online learning environment helps lower costs while still maintaining open communication between students and faculty.

Students in online learning environments sometimes struggle to share files with their professors and fellow students due to software compatibility. In a traditional classroom this is less of a problem because the student can just turn in a paper document for many projects. In an online classroom, however, the ability to share files is a necessity. Google Apps allow anyone who has access to an Internet-ready computer to quickly and efficiently share documents, regardless of the software on each computer. Even Mac and PC users can easily collaborate and share files using Google Apps.

Google Apps for Education has created a very feasible system that helps students and teachers in their classes. Some of the more popular features are:

  • Google Docs: An app whose focus is collaboration, which is all the more important with online learners who don't have physical classrooms in which to generate interactivity. Students can access the system to participate in group projects and compile ideas, no matter where they are in the world.
  • Google Video: Students who use this app can share videos with fellow group members or professors as part of course study or for fun.
  • Google Calendar: Ever important for busy students, especially those whose coursework and study takes place outside the structured classroom, Google Calendar helps students keep track of when assignments are due, test dates, and share pertinent times and dates with members of their peer group.
  • Google Sites: A quick and easy-to-use app, Google sites gives students a way to create websites, whether for a mid-semester activity or final project. Google Doc and Google Calendar files can be used with the app.
  • Google Talk: Gives students and faculty access to instant, voice, and video messaging.
At the heart of Google Apps for Education is a collaborative virtual environment where students can easily share work with one another and their teachers, thereby mimicking the in-person classroom experience. Students can perform peer reviews of coursework, engage in group discussions, and work together on projects, even while living in different parts of the country.

Other software programs exist for online educators who want to be able to connect virtually with their students, but none offer the affordability and global appeal of Google Apps for Education. To save money and make access more convenient for students, universities around the country, both on and offline, are making the switch to Google.Via[corenetworkz]


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