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?

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5 thoughts on “Unit 3: To Google, or Not to Google, That is THE Question!”

  1. Hey Carla!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on your post!

    I too was surprised to hear that our students lose all their digital portfolios after graduation. To think that all that work will go down the drain if they are not aware or don’t know how to save their work!
    Our students in our Division use Google Classroom but it’s owned from our school board, which means after graduation, they too will lose all their work, unless they properly save their work from 4 years.

    I have really begin to love Google classroom (it has taken me two years to fully understand the program) though many of our kids enjoy using it as it has many useful tools to support varied learning needs. Our division offers this tool, though again after graduation, students will lose their work unless they download their work on a personal account. Unfortunately, not all teachers have jumped on the Google classroom bandwagon. It is my hope that the school board provides PD, or PD time for edtech teachers to share this useful tool with other fellow teachers. And also help teach our students how to save their work prior to their graduation.
    Thanks for sharing Carla.
    Krista

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    1. It is just too bad that there is not a way to maintain our students work once they leave the division. I really wish that they let the students know that their work would be lost. The division is not hiding this fact, but no one is telling the students that.

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  2. Thanks for your post Carla.

    This was a really interesting read for me as my division also utilizes Office 365 for all students and staff. As a Grade 7/8 teacher, I didn’t realize this was even an issue, as my main concern each year was to ensure students had organized all their files so the transition to High School was a smooth one. The fact that students potentially lose twelve years of educational artifacts is alarming, especially knowing that work created in upper grades can be relevant and necessary after they graduate.

    My initial thought too, was to switch to Google Classroom as I have many friends in other divisions who are utilizing this with their students. However, after reading Krista’s comment, it’s clear that that program also suffers from the same fatal flaw. While the process of having students save everything to a thumb drive each year before they graduate works, I agree that it really isn’t the most efficient solution. I wonder if there is a solution that can be created at the division level, or if this is something that will need to be addressed at the corporate level to ensure students aren’t leaving empty-handed when they walk out our doors for the final time?
    This is definitely something I’m anxious to ask our Ed Tech Leaders in our next meeting. Thanks again for the great read.

    -Matt

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  3. Great post. As a grade 6 teacher, this never even occurred to me as my students also save to Office365 but they are not at an age where they are graduating. This is an educational piece of the “play” that most definitely needs to be addressed as students should have the ability to save and maintain record of their learning. That being said, in my classroom my students use SeeSaw to manage their digital portfolio. I do send an email out with instructions at the end of the year for parents to download their portfolio to save at home allowing them to keep record of their child’s work. Parents are extremely grateful as they want to keep these memories for years to come and they no longer need to store that sheet of paper with glued on Cheerio’s and painted noodles . I am interested to hear what Microsoft and your IT department come up with as to a solution as this is most likely as fairly new “side effect” that is not being talked about.

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  4. I believe the portability of work done in school is essential for it to be authentic to students, especially in terms of creating the strong digital footprint, that is becoming so important to young adults today. This demand goes directly contrary to the notion of the school as “a walled garden”, where young people can develop safely away from the dangers of the real world. The walled garden concept is from two centuries ago … you are so right to be questioning it!

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