HA_Oct302014-9641I have been working at Harrisburg Academy for 15 years, having taught Middle School science and computer science, Upper School computer science, and IB Information Technology in a Global Society. During that time, I have seen the students at Harrisburg Academy use several different resources for email, file storage, and collaborating with others.  The most recent iteration of these resources for students is Google Apps for Education.  All Students from 2nd to 12th grade are provided with individual Google Apps for Education account.  This is a service Google offers to all academic institutions and consists of an email account, Google Drive, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, and much more.  This is, hands down, the best resource I have seen students use so far.  It allows them to have access to their email and files wherever they are; they have unlimited file storage in the Google Drive; and best of all, they have access to true collaboration tools with Docs, Sheets, and Slides.  These web applications allow them to share their files with other students, faculty, or anyone with an email address, then lets them work on the same file at the same time and shows them who is adding what, and where.

I have seen students working as a group to produce a presentation using Slides, where one student was at home sick, but all working together on the project at the same time completing their own sections.  I have seen students in different study halls working together on a single document.  I have even had an entire class of students working on the same Sheet at the same time in class.  These apps are truly collaborative with integrated tools that allow them to chat to each other while they work, discussing the progress of their group and what they should do next.

Google is always adding to these services, which are getting better all the time. They recently added Google Classroom as a feature of Google Apps for Education, which is a course management system, very much like Moodle which I use with all of my Middle and Upper classes, and looks like it will be a great addition to the suite of tools offered by Google. I am excited to see how these tools continue to develop and to see how students at the Academy will find new ways to use these tools in the future.