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Utilizing GSuite for Education – Distance learning made easier over school breaks

Distance learning is becoming a necessity in our everyday lives, both as educators and students. This is not just limited to school time, but also over school breaks. Even during the current circumstances, it’s still incredibly easy for students to face daily distractions or become unmotivated to complete assignments. As educators, tackling these challenges can sometimes be difficult, but is certainly not impossible with the right preparation and communication in place.

Below we go over what to consider when it comes to distance learning over school breaks and what you can implement to make it easier for both yourself and your students.

Prevent Distractions With Engaging Resources

Typically the completion of school work during a school break isn’t in the forefront of a students mind. In order to overcome this, learning resources need to be engaging and visually appealing, whether it be via documents, presentations, video or audio.

A great way to ensure more interest on the students' part is by varying the learning resources available to them. Taking more of a differentiated approach as opposed to just sending all students the same old text-filled files is a great start.

Google docs and Google Slides  are two great alternatives for providing more engaging information to your students, making education more exciting and easily digestible. 

How To Make Your Google Documents and Presentations More Engaging

Google Docs:

  • Guide students on exactly what they need to do and how they can achieve specific outcomes. This will not only improve communication, but also eliminates any unnecessary downtime spent by students trying to understand what is required from them.
  • Link to websites that provide valuable information relevant to your subject matter. This limits the amount of time students need to spend browsing external sites and makes their research path clearer. 
  • Ensure information is segmented out in a way that makes it easier for students to navigate the document.
  • Incorporate imagery to break up text and make your resources easy to digest. This also caters to those who are visual learners.
  • Use bullet points and tables where possible to further structure your information.

Google Slides:

Follow the instructions listed above, however you can add these too: 

  • Incorporate image, video and audio files to cater to both auditory and visual learners.
  • Indicate in your presentation when you are moving onto a new subject matter or section of the assignment. Use strategies such a new title slides, new slide colors or headers, or clearly indicating topic shifts in the notes section.

Connect to Students with Technology

When it comes to distance learning over school breaks, having access to the necessary platforms to complete assigned tasks is vital, as well as ensuring both incomplete and completed assignments are stored in one easily accessible place. This not only helps you organize and assign new work to your students, but it also makes working from home easier for them, leaving room for more productivity and prevents loss of interest due to poorly managed assignments which are hard to access.

Utilising online tools such as Google Classroom and Google Drive is a great place to start! 

Google Drive

Google Drive is a central hub for the secure storage and easy access of your files; whether that be documents, presentations, audio or video files. From your drive you can easily share these files with your students, their guardians, and your colleagues.

With the potential of home distractions being more prevalent than ever before, ensuring that students have access to well-organized materials will reduce the likelihood of potential online distractions, which may lead to procrastination and the incompletion of work.

Whether it’s sharing documents with individuals or your entire class, the simplicity of Drive makes it an easy to manage and accessible solution for both educators and students alike.

Google Classroom

This is a free solution for both educators and students, where you can set up classes, post assignments and provide insightful feedback to your students efficiently and effectively. You can even differentiate and personalize content and assignments for different students. Classroom not only allows your students to get started on work with little distraction time, but it also provides you with the opportunity to plan your semester in advance, giving structure to your workload.

Additional Features That Will Improve Your Classroom Experience

  • Organizing your classrooms with topics will allow you to easily keep track of the units you have taught, create and announce assignments, as well as locate existing assignments.
  • Add due dates to your assignments. This is an effective way of giving your students a target to work towards. With a sense of urgency created, they are more likely to complete the work assigned to them over their school break.
  • Add some engaging learning materials and resources to your classroom before creating your class.

If you are using any education apps, ensure you are making full use of the Google Classroom integration opportunities that are available. Unsure if the apps you use can be integrated with Google Classroom? Click here to find out! 

Consider Home Dynamics

It is understandable that during school breaks students lack the strict schedule we are used to seeing within a regular school day. Therefore, it’s important to cater to this difference in the most effective way possible. 

A common issue that we tend to face is a lack of internet access. To account for this, Google Drive has a feature known as “offline mode.” This is easy for your students to enable while connected to wifi so they are still able to access docs, sheets and slides should their internet become unstable.

Communicate with Parents, Teachers, and Students 

Due to the amount of communication typically carried out over school breaks being limited, upfront communication is key to prevent any confusion from both your students and their guardians.  Fortunately, Google Classroom allows you to communicate with both students and parents via email. 

Posting and scheduling announcements is a very effective way to communicate with your class to provide helpful reminders (i.e. when an assignment is due or to provide additional information on a topic or tips for their current assignment.)

Classroom also includes a feature where guardians can receive email summaries on any assignment changes and updates. The guardian summary feature allows parents and guardians to opt into automatic updates about announcements, class activities, upcoming assignments, and missed work. This is especially useful over school breaks; using this will not only ensure there is no breakdown of communication, but will also provide parents with the necessary resources in the instance students need help completing the given task. 

Throughout the pandemic, MobileMind has taken the lead on supporting schools and districts with their distance learning, providing free resources on how to use G Suite for Education and how to use it effectively and efficiently.  In addition, the Google for Education team has been listening to educators and has made several improvements to key classroom apps over the past year. Distance Learning with G Suite for Education has never been easier.

If you have already purchased or are planning to purchase G Suite Enterprise for Education licenses, visit the following link to see how you can claim FREE Google Professional Development Services.

Distance Learning Essentials: Google Drive

What is Google Drive?

Google Drive is a cloud-based storage service that enables you to store and access files online. Any documents, photos, videos, presentations, etc you save will be synced to any device you access it from, including smartphones and tablets. Google Drive is also fully integrated with other useful distance learning tools in G Suite for Education, such as Google Docs, Slides, Forms, Gmail, Drawings, etc - as well as other platforms and online services like YouTube, Google Analytics and Google+.

It’s also FREE - and easy to start using while learning from home. You just need an existing Gmail account or recommend setting one up to parents and guardians for students who don’t already have one.

Benefits for Teachers

  • Great backup solution: store lesson plans and student assignments, plus photos and videos which won’t become corrupted over time like a USB device
  • Allows you to send large files: Teachers can send learning resources - from large documents to lengthy video files - to students or co-teachers via Gmail
  • Handy search options: You can quickly locate files (by owner) using the built-in keyword search feature or scan documents using the optical character recognition tool to find specific data sent by other users, such as students, colleagues, or parents
  • Share files easily: Teachers can share files and folders by sending a link to their students to access from their free Google Drive - ideal for creating assignments, work, and providing feedback 
  • Open and edit various files: If you’re experiencing difficulty opening documents or video files, Google Drive is compatible with most file types, including PDF, PowerPoint presentations, JPEGs, Word docs, WMV, MP4 and more

Did we mention how incredible Google Drive is as a storage solution for schools? With each Google Account, you get 1-TB of storage - which is included for free too. Because of the ample storage space, you can view images at full resolution, without the need to be compressed! This means your students benefit from the same number of gigabytes, with access to Google Drive (and other G Suite tools) when they use their student S Suite Gmail account.

Google Drive for Distance Learning

Google Drive is a great collaborative home learning tool because it’s so simple and straightforward to use. Teachers and students can quickly share files as well as create brand-new files- all with the ability to insert images, tables, links, and more! Google Drive is ideal for making learning and revision remotely interactive - and connecting with parents or guardians to show them their distance learning progress.

With Google Drive, you can:

  • Create Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Drawings, and even Sites to be used as part of virtual lessons or distance learning reports
  • Save and share docs and Gmail attachments in one safe place, conveniently organizing your files into color-coded folders and sub-folder categories
  • Access from your smartphone or tablet, which allows you to screenshot images of your documents, which can be converted into PDF format
  • Use the large amount of storage to keep a record/ archive of files during the distance learning period for completed assignments, email attachments for revision - plus it’s great to back up your photos and videos

We’re Here to Help You...

At MobileMind, we’re committed to supporting schools for short- and long-term distance learning. We understand it’s a difficult adjustment period, which is why we’re here to help. Take a look at our tips and advice on how practical and easy-to-use online applications, like Google Drive, will benefit your school.

Find out more about Distance Learning tools from Google 

Click here to visit the MobileMind Live page

Distance Learning Essentials: Google Docs

What is Google Docs?

Google Docs is a free web-based service which allows schools to collaborate with their students from a remote location - in real time! This versatile document authoring tool can be located within your Google Drive, simply by clicking create and choose Docs. It also brings the processed file to life with inventive tools to edit and style the assignments, tasks, and activities you create for your distance learning class. How? Choose from a variety of different fonts, insert images, drawings, add tables, and add links as well.

Google Docs is a paper-free formatting tool included in the G Suite for Education, enabling school work to be completed from home.

Benefits for Teachers

  • Multiple users can edit a document at the same time and view changes instantly
  • Teachers can create text documents and share with their peers or teachers
  • Access to view, edit, or comment on documents can be given to selected students, fellow teachers, or department heads to maintain secure sharing
  • Different access modes make it easy for teachers to grade work, provide feedback, or check progress and avoid any unauthorized changes
  • Schools can share documents with up to 200 people and collaborate with up to 50users in real-time - ideal to host virtual classes or participate in online staff meetings
  • If you need to share with more than 200 people, consider embedding it in a website or make the file public.
  • You can send shareable links for assignments, documents, and learning resources created in Google Docs instead of emailing them as an attachment
  • Documents can also be shared with contacts who don’t have a Google account, which is useful when communicating with parents or guardians regarding progress reports
  • Google Docs regularly auto-saves (everytime a change is made to the document) to prevent any loss of work
  • Teachers can install a variety of Add-ons, like highlighter tools, plagiarism search apps, word cloud generators and more
  • Schools can upload their own documents to Google Docs, directly from their desktop and convert them to the Google editing format if needed

Google Docs for Distance Learning

Preparing lessons and creating assignments with Google Docs helps teachers to save time with a stress-free platform that is easily adaptable for distance learning purposes. This can be done by creating new documents (with clear directions and instructions for students to follow) or uploading existing files you have on your computer. In addition to the bank of Add-ons you can install, there are templates for reports, agendas, meeting minutes and other types of documents you can choose from - to shake up the formatting styles without it getting too demanding and complicated. 

To make tasks even more engaging for a learn-from-home environment, teachers can turn their docs into ‘hyperdocs’, with links to Google Forms and videos, as well as insert tables or charts to organize the information and tasks more easily. Rest assured, everything can be shared via Google Classroom and Drive - or via email, school website and/or your LMS.

We’re Here to Help You...

At MobileMind, we’re committed to supporting schools for short and long-term distance learning. We understand it’s a difficult adjustment period, which is why we’re here to help. Take a look at our tips and advice on how practical and easy-to-use online applications, like Google Docs, will benefit your school.

Find out more about Distance Learning tools from Google

Click here to visit the MobileMind Live page

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