Unit 3: To Google, or Not to Google, That is THE Question!

Technology is all around us, there is no escaping it.  Our students are digital natives, while we are digital immigrants.  Heck, some of them (and maybe some of you) were even born with the aid of technology.  Technology is a wonderful thing.  Or is it???  Just as with organisms on Earth, technology is in a constant state of evolution.  I really like the video even though it is 4 years old, it shows the progression of technology, but it also asks who is in control?  The technology or the user of the technology?

In our school division, we are asked to use Office 365 and all the goodies that come along with it.  All of our students are asked to use it, teachers communicate and set up classes with it, etc…  Division office staff use it, we use Office Teams, for file sharing, and collaborations.

Dramatis Personae – In this case, all of the individuals who fall within our school division who use Office 365 in any capacity are considered Dramatis Personae.  While Office 365 is considered one of the top software companies, I wonder if it is the best one for our high school students.  Let me explain below.

Props – In our division, this would include mainly laptops for our students, or their cell phones (but I am thinking this would be mainly just for their school email accounts).  Staff would have access to division issued laptops, if you are an administrator this may also include a cell phone.

Scene – Anywhere and everywhere in our school division.  All individuals have access to Office 365 within any area of the school or division be it in a classroom, hallway, another school, division office, or even at home WHILE THEY ARE AN INDIVIDUAL IN OUR DIVISION.

Conflict – The scene is setting the stage for the conflict, and hence my major project.  I teach only students in grades 10-12.  Once you are no longer an individual in our school division you lose access to all of the documentation you have kept within your Office 365 cloud.  This means that the moment our graduates step across the stage, their digital learning portfolio has vanished.  And unless someone (a teacher who understands what is about to happen) informs them that all of their work they have created will disappear unless they put it on a thumb drive.  I would like to see our high school students begin to use Google Classroom – which is also allowed in our school division but not maintained or supported, simply because the students will not lose their digital learning portfolios.  As educators, we can also help them learn how to use Google Classroom, plus all of the other Google Drive apps that are offered before they enter post-secondary education or the workforce.  I have asked some recent graduates what interface they use – Office 365 or Google Drive – they tell me they use Google Drive.

This is where the conflict lies.  Do we support what the division wants, or what is best for the students in the long run?  What would you do?