How the Cloud Can Help Teaching – Guest Post by Robert LeBlanc
Many teachers are intimidated by new technology and this probably comes from an experience with it that made their lives more complicated rather than simpler. This is too bad because good technology ought to simplify things and create new possibilities. Obviously nothing is perfect but hopefully whatever technology you are adopting does this for you, if not then consider not using it.
That being said here is how cloud services have been used by me and maybe even you.
- Consists of many servers on the internet that store your data
- You can access your data from any location with internet
- Often you can share your data with a great degree of control
- You have a backup of your most valuable files (your computer crashes – your files are safe)
- You can collaborate on a document simultaneously with others
I am most familiar with Google Drive and SkyDrive. Both services have a PC App that runs on your computer. They create a folder on your computer that will automatically get backed up on internet ‘cloud’. That’s important. It is simplicity and makes life easier like technology should. This is only one aspect of the cloud services. There are also calendars that can sync with all of your devices, email, video conferencing and more.
How I use it:
- I have all my teaching documents on the cloud—if I change something on any one of my PC’s using the cloud service, the change is updated everywhere—simplicity
- I share files (notes, solutions, diagrams, etc) with my students by creating ‘view only’ links (as opposed to giving them editing permission – this may sound confusing but it’s literally a one click operation
- I no longer worry about forgetting my USB drive at home – my data is ever where all the time – at the same time it is safe
- I also share links to a Google Sites page that I use for my class (a talk for another time)
- Students can have their own Google Drive/SkyDrive accounts and share files with you
How I’ve heard of others using it/How I’d like to use it:
This could be useful in that they don’t have to print off the assignment to hand it in. You can write your comments on the paper and they receive the feedback immediately (well once you’ve finished your other 10 piles of marking)
- At a past staff meeting we were filling in a data chart for our math PLT. We called off data as our administrator entered it in. I thought afterward that Google Drive would have allowed all of us to enter our data at the same time and probably with very little conflict
- Any working documents that you might have as a staff – brainstorms, PLT ideas, Data, Behavior reports, whatever could be shared/edited with a select audience
Proof of Concept:
I have saved this document as a word doc in both my Google Drive folder and my SkyDrive folder. I have also saved it as a PDF in case you don’t have MS Word (this took approx. 30 seconds to share btw).
There is probably a lot more to be said here but I just wanted to get you thinking about it if you hadn’t already …
Robert LeBlanc teaches at Westcliffe School in Marego, Saskatchewan, part of the Sun West School Division.
You can follow him on Twitter @rleblanc1.