Coming soon in late 2014: AppsEvents Announce ‘Google Classroom’ Bootcamps

Google Classroom Bootcamps

There has been a huge interest in Google Classroom and from what we have seen so far it is going to be a revolutionary tool in further democratising EdTech and moving control to the individual teacher.

Our blog post on Google Classroom and the Google Classroom ‘Sneak Preview’ at our California Summit back in May sparked huge interest and many members of the AppsEvents team are preparing to spend time in the system in the early access phase over the summer. As people have seen from the previews online Google Classroom allows individual teachers to create an online classroom, and features extensive integration with Google Drive, so for example, teachers get one folder in Drive for each assignment which student coursework submissions get shared to. 

In our conversations with schools and districts, there is a massive groundswell of interest in Google Classroom. Schools want to evaluate it quickly upon release so they can get up to speed and get teachers using it within their schools. 

To help schools quickly ‘ramp up’ with Classroom we are delighted to be announcing the AppsEvents one-day ‘Google Classroom bootcamps’. Our initial courses are currently being scheduled for October and November to follow the planned release date of Classroom in September, and we will continue running them through 2015. 

The day will be intensive and will leave attendees with both a high level view of best practices of using Classroom in their school, and with the detailed knowledge of how to setup and use classes. Topics include:
  1. Quick start - creating your first class and adding your students
  2. Power user tips and tricks
  3. Best practices for course creation and management, for example creating course templates and copying courses across terms and academic years
  4. Managing Classroom across the school
  5. Third-party Apps. How to integrate Classroom with more comprehensive Apps such as  Course Director from WizKids and TeacherDashboard from Hapara
  6. ‘Train the trainer’ - how to train your colleagues on Classroom
As is the case with our fantastic ‘Google Educator Certification Bootcamps’ we will be running the boot camps both as one day ‘pre summit courses’ and as stand-alone courses. In addition, we will be rolling out Google Classroom content to our ‘Cloud Camp’ curriculum and of course Classroom sessions will be held at all our summits. Sessions will be led by many of our core team, including +Allison Mollica +Sarah Woods and +Lee Webster

We have a Google form below to capture early interest so please complete this and it will help us in scheduling our course dates and locations. We will get back to you towards the end of the summer break with some preliminary schedules.
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Configuring Google Apps Content Filters to Support Anti Bullying

Editor's note: Today's blog post is a guest article from Milan Mihajlov. Here he shares how Google Apps admins can help support the school's anti-bullying campaign. Read on to learn more.

Configuring Google Apps Content Filters to Support Anti Bullying
In this article, we will take a close look into mechanisms for content filtering available in the Google Apps platform. The article consists of four parts:

  • Why content filtering in Google Apps;
  • How to configure content filtering and how to effectively manage it;
  • What is the best approach according to psychologists;
  • Conclusion.

1. Why content filtering in Google Apps

With the evolvement of new technologies, cyber-bullying became the new way of bullying. According to it is “bullying that takes place using electronic technology including devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites”.

When schools open email accounts for their students they need to pay attention to prevent any misbehaviour occurring within the organization. When it comes to exchanging insulting words, then it is the moment when Google Apps Content Filters step up.

2. How to configure Google Apps Content Filtering and how to effectively manage it?

First, let us take a look at one possible scenario. Consider that the school strategy is comprised of the following:

  • the school maintains a list of bad words collected either through experience or from the Internet;
  • the school maintains a list of regular expressions (or just regex);
  • when any of the students exchange an email with other party (either student, teacher or someone else) and if the message contains some bad words - it should be automatically forwarded to the school psychologist. Google Apps should also prepend a custom subject to the message such as “[objectionable content]” or “[!]”.

If you are a Google Apps Administrator in your school, login in the Admin Console and navigate to Google Apps > Gmail > Advanced settings > General Settings tab. Since Google Apps gives possibility to create multiple sub-organizations within the domain, administrators have granular control over the policies and services applied to each sub-organization individually.

Following the good practices, I assume there is at least one dedicated sub-organization which contains only student accounts. Click on the sub-organization on which you want to configure and apply content filters. To make sure you chose the right sub-organization, make sure its name changed the color to red.

Then scroll down right to the Compliance section and find these two options: Content Compliance and Objectionable content. Click Configure button which appears on the right.

They are similar and complement each other (visit the help articles to read more about Content Compliance and Objectionable content respectively). Depending on the anti bullying strategy accepted by your school, you should see whether you will use just one of them or a combination of both.

If we talk about the previous example, here is a short video what you need to do:

Do not forget to mark “Bypass spam filter for this message” option, because otherwise it will be caught up by SPAM filters, meaning that it will pass unnoticed.

After selecting corresponding options in the control panel, you have set the proper content filtering applied locally to one sub-organization.

Effective management of the content filters presupposes maintaining a single list of bad words and applying them regularly. For example, it could be a Google Doc shared between the Google Apps Administrator and school psychologist. You may start with one list of bad words I have found on the Internet.

Maintaining a list of regular expressions is a bit more complicated and it will not be covered in this article. Basically, it is the same principle as using regex to validate data entered in Google Forms.

3. Best approach according to psychologists

For this specific matter, I did a quick interview with our school psychologist, and here I am sharing it with you.

Q: Since the problem with bullying cannot be solved using unique approach, how can the school IT Administrator contribute to the overall school strategy to support anti bullying campaign, especially cyber bullying?

A: I believe the school IT Administrator plays a crucial role in the overall strategy of any anti bullying campaign. First of all, this person would be responsible for establishing the core standards through which cyber bullying would be determined and eventually followed/tracked. Also, after cyber bullying has been established within student’s behavior, the follow ups of that student would be essential for its further prevention. Another focus would be placed on informing the community, the students, their parents, the PTA association, on steps taken towards prevention, with the final purpose of involving everyone in combating this harmful behaviors.

Q: Considering the availability of these tools within the Google Apps platform and the fact that depending on the used method, students might or might not be aware that their email message has been caught, which method do you think would be most appropriate to use? Why?

A: As implied before, I do believe in an open communication in which the students and everyone else around them would be fully informed of the steps to be taken and subsequent follow ups in regards to cyber bullying. Guidance and support bestow more positive outcomes in education in comparison to punishment. Consequently, cyber bullying education should be open and transparent to the entire students’ community. We should focus on developing school culture that would be in compliance with the changing paradigms of our time, exactly by developing more educational tools that would keep pace with the technological development. Thus, educating the future generations about the much needed care in their web expressions seems to be of utmost importance. At the same time, teaching the students on acceptable expressions of their aggressive urges would eventually give birth to generations more aware,and thus more prepared for effective resistance to cyber bullying. So, the final outcome of such a campaign, in order for it to be meaningful, would in my opinion, teach towards responsible ways of behaving oneself on the internet while expressing a fully transparent process of combating cyber bullying.

4. Conclusion

As explained above, configuring the content filters in Google Apps is a straightforward process, but when we have such a delicate problem to solve as cyber bullying is, solution is always a bit more complex. Although the technology gives us opportunities to deal with such ,occurrences that does not mean it is the only possible solution we can lean on. However, it can be a part of a wider strategy in which all the parties will be embodied.

About the Contributor

Milan Mihajlov is an IT Engineer with over seven years of professional experience. Currently, he works as System Administrator in an international school, where he manages Google Apps platform among other duties. In free time, he writes how-to guides on his personal blog.

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Digitally Mapping Your Classroom with Google Sites

Editor's note: Today's blog post is a guest article from +Sam Rosenfeld, one of our presenters for the Connecticut Summit this June 21 to 22. Some of the ideas covered in this guest blog are ones he is going to present at the CT summit, and he wanted to share them with everyone who can't make it. Enjoy reading! :)

Digitally Mapping Your Classroom with Google Sites

The 2012-13 academic year was my first year out of college, and I began my career in education as a first grade co-teacher. Entering the elementary school environment, I felt somewhat overwhelmed by the number of special procedures that I was required to know off-hand, and at first found it difficult to physically find all of the materials that I needed throughout the day. I knew that I couldn’t rely on paper notes, as they were too hard to sift through, so I began taking notes using Google Docs. Docs sustained me throughout the year, but as I began preparing the documents to pass on to the next co-teacher, I realized the easiest way to keep these notes useful would be to create a Google Site. The classroom site serves not only as a sufficient tool for helping learn remember daily procedures, but it also serves as a digitally searchable roadmap for the classroom’s materials and the first grade curriculum.

Much to my surprise, with a few photographs and a bit of organizing, I was able to turn my notes into a digital map of my classroom, completely searchable from top to bottom. By splitting the curriculum into “Lessons” and “Organization”, and carefully documenting the structure of the classroom as well as the procedures for different classroom materials, I was able to create a series of pages and sub-pages that mapped out all of the necessary supplies for language arts, mathematics, science, and other subject areas. Hyperlinking between pages allowed me to demonstrate connections between subject areas and the physical locations of classroom materials needed to teach them. For example, knowing that the spelling folders were in the bottom drawer of the file cabinet made organizing spelling lessons far easier.

The greatest benefit of taking the time to organize the classroom into a Google Site was making the room searchable. Can’t find the markers? Just type in “markers” in the search bar at the top and you’ll see a list of all the drawers and cabinets that have markers, and what kinds of markers they have. Need stir sticks for hot chocolate? Searching for stir sticks will tell you exactly where they are. This was a phenomenal tool for me because it lessened the pressure of finding day-to-day objects in the classroom, and allowed me more time to structure my lessons.

There are a few warnings I would give prior to creating such a digital map, the first and foremost being the privacy of your students. If you visit the classroom Site that I shared in this article, you’ll notice that there are few pictures and those that are on the site have black boxes to cover up faces and names of students. We take privacy very seriously at our school, and I would recommend you think very carefully before posting any information about your classroom. I have also removed the times of day at which we attend different subjects to further protect the privacy of my students. Please be wary of the sharing settings on your Google Site, as you may or may not want to share outside of your school network.

Overall, the benefits to creating a Google Site for the physical and curricular aspects of our classroom greatly outweighed the risks. I loved teaching first grade with Michele Jackson, and her organizational skills and teaching styles have inspired me as I begin my career as a technology teacher for grades K-3 and Google Education Trainer. Striving to preserve a consistency in our resources across the classroom allowed for the Google Site to remain useful and reliable for co-teachers in years to come. Hopefully the site will expand and include an ever-growing amount of information about the joy of teaching in first grade!

About the Contributor

Sam is a Technology Teacher for grades K-3 at the Greenwich Country Day School and is thrilled to be a part of the Google for Education Connecticut Summit this Summer! He recently became a certified Google Education Trainer, and loves to teach students about coding and multimedia editing, as well as working with faculty on how to integrate technology effectively in elementary age classrooms.

Do you want to contribute to AppsEvents blog? Send me your proposed topic through this form and let's brainstorm.
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AppsEvents announces a partnership with TICAL in California to offer the fantastic ‘Leading Edge Certification for the Online and Blended Teacher’

The program is structured as a one day face to face course and then 50-60 hours distance learning spread over eight weeks. AppsEvents will be running the one day course as a summit pre certification track with the Bangkok Summit being the first summit to offer this course on the Friday before the summit. More information on the course can be found on the Information Sheet.

AppsEvents decided to partner with TICAL as this certification allows the user to heavily utilize Google in Education tools to complete the course, with the student creating their overall portfolio as a Google Site and using several Google Drive tools including Google Presentation to create a collaborative presentation with your peers and Google Docs to develop a comprehensive assessment plan for an online or blended environment.

AppsEvents also plans to start offering the other two Leading Edge Certifications in 2014: the ‘Leading Edge Certification for the Administrator’ which focuses on site, district, and regional leaders aligned to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards for Administrators and the ‘Leading Edge Certification for the Digital Educator’ which guides teachers through a curriculum based on the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards for Teachers. The program develops the skills necessary to develop a rigorous and relevant curriculum to support students in the digital-age through a project-based learning approach, infusion of technology, and promoting authentic learning in a physical classroom environment.

More information about the program can be found with this link and more information will be added to the AppsEvents site shortly. If you are interested in attending the Bangkok pre summit course or in potentially hosting a course at your school please contact
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Summits versus Bootcamps versus Cloud Camp

We’ve been asked many times what is the main difference between the various training events that we host and with the addition of Cloud Camp to our list of offerings, let’s take a look at the difference between a Google in Education summit, certification bootcamp, and Google Cloud Camp.

A Google in Education Summit is a fantastic two-day event of educators teaching other educators that is focused on the core Google Apps for Education suite such as GMail, Calendar, Docs, and Drive but may also cover other Google products such as Chromebooks, Google play and Android, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Earth, and Advanced Google Search among others. 12 reasons you should attend a Google in Education Summit this 2014.
Summits versus Bootcamps versus Cloud Camp
The Google Apps EDU Certification preparation bootcamp on the other hand is a one day event usually held a day prior to or after any summit to help prepare educators who wish to become Google certified complete the certification process which comprises of 5 online tests and a completed application, including a case study. The day is fun, engaging and educational and teaches you how to quickly pass the tests and join the community of certified trainers worldwide.

Google Cloud Camp is a more focused and intense form of workshop with the beginners in mind. Schools that ‘go Google’ often find themselves scrambling to provide basic training for apps or are unsure of the ‘what else’ they can get out of it. Google Cloud Camp is a curriculum set up to showcase what you can do with all the apps. It is not a ‘beginner’ but rather a way to ‘level’ up if you are either a beginner or somewhat experienced user.

Interested in hosting a Google Apps event for your school or organization? Get in touch with us today!
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AppsEvents announce ‘Google Apps Optimization Audit’ for International Schools

Google Apps Optimization Audit for International Schools

AppsEvents is delighted to announce our ground breaking ‘Google Apps Optimization Audit for International Schools’.

From working with many schools using Google Apps we noticed there was a need for schools to see where they are in their use of Google tools in a few areas:

  • Firstly they wanted to see how their IT staff, school management and teaching staff are actually using their system 

  • Secondly schools wanted to see how use of Google tools compares to other International Schools, both in terms of technical set up and use in the classroom. 

  • Finally they wanted recommendations on how to improve their Google Apps setup, and a roadmap and guidance on how to implement it. 

The audit aims to address these points by follows a holistic approach of granting admin access for us to review your settings, combined with surveys sent as Google forms to different groups of end users, and finally scheduled hangouts at the start, middle and end points of the audit to discuss our findings in more detail, clarity points.

As part of the audit, and after consultation with you we recommend changes to your set up (with a suggested timeline if necessary) and suggestions based on leading international schools.

We will recommend additional admin tools for simplifying GAFE management, widening the scope for domain monitoring and generating valuable statistics and reports on usage and compliance.

Throughout the process we hold hangouts with you to clarify things and ensure we are giving focussed and relevant advice and allowing for your school timings (our team is well equipped in dealing with schools and their unique change management requirements), focused on educational bodies culture and decision making processes.

The great thing about the audit is it is done exclusively using Google EDU tools, and as the meetings are held via ‘Hangout’ there is no need to schedule times.

James Sayer, AppsEvents consultant and Head of Math and EdTech at an International school in Bangkok said “The great thing about the audit is that it is an opportunity for schools to have an existing Google installation assessed against best practices for collaboration and easy administration”.

Our audit team are all Google Education Certified Trainers and Google Apps Certified Admins and many are practicing Educators at International Schools.

If you are interested in hearing more about the ‘Optimization Audit’ this document gives some additional information please email us and we send you a detailed info sheet with more detailed information, together with testimonials from International Schools where we have performed the audit.

‘We recently worked with AppsEvents to perform an audit to help us optimize our Google Apps setup. James and the team at AppsEvent were professional and well-organized. Their expertise has helped us to identify some clear and achievable recommendations that will greatly improve the experience for our students and faculty.’

- Mark Dilworth, Director of Educational Technology
Zurich International School
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