A day at Google UK User Group #guug11

15 February 2011 – Google UK User Group meeting at Loughborough.

google goodies

I have to admit to being a bit of an interloper at this meeting. We don’t have a Google App installation at Leicester University, but I’ve use the suite of Google products with over 200 first year students on our IT and Numeracy course with Alan Cann over the last two years. My interest in google apps is personal as well as professional and I wanted to see how they were being used at other institutions, in particular to start thinking about how I might use them in the classroom as I know that some schools are going down the app route to supplement or even replace a VLE.

I had a great day and some smart people have already written some great blog posts wtih lots of detail from the day (I particularly liked how Sheila MacNeill put a twitter story together using storify).

My highlights and thoughts from the day:

1. This stuff is free – still struggling to get my head around the fact that Google Apps for HE are free. A four-year contract, yes, but for free. So why are we paying for email?

2. Meeting Mark Allen and Zoe Ross in person, and loving the Google Apps ‘VLEcosystem’ for (mostly primary) schools that Mark has developed using google apps and other free tools to get children and teachers working effectively online.

Edintheclouds screenshot
from http://www.edintheclouds.com/introduction

Via twitter, Kevin McLaughlin pointed at his take on this idea that he has written up in the ALT newsletter. This is a wonderfully inspiring example of how home-grown solutions using free tools can provide the flexibility and simplicity that children and staff need online.

3. I have to admit to being rather star-struck by the Google brand, their people and the great stuff they do (the majority of which I’d already seen and used, like live collaboration in Google Docs and the google goggles solving suduko puzzles). However, I think I checked my critical faculties at the door.

4. I got a first look (albeit at a distance) at a Chrome OS notebook . This made me think about when ubiquitous always-on wifi will be good enough in schools and universities for us to use this type of OS with students.

Chrome OS laptop

5. Interesting to hear that the OU help desk cross charges course teams for any errors on their moodle sites that result in increase calls to the helpdesk. Certainly focusses the mind…

Overall it was a mind-expanding day in many ways, even if I didn’t even come close to winning the war of the tweets with Steve Wheeler 😉


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