Ed Reading Weekly: Google EDU, student data privacy, & school funding

Notes on the edSurge interview with Jaime Casap and Jonathan Rochelle. On Edtech Equity and the Future of Google EDU.

  • Jonathan Rochelle, “Nobody on the consumer products side was thinking about education.”
  • Jonathan Rochelle, “Teachers have always been using it, but not because it was built for education.”
  • Jaime Casap, “Ed tech has to be easy to use, manageable, to scale, it has to be invisible and these guys (Google Drive products) are trying to be invisible.”
  • Mary Jo Madda, “Really Google Expeditions is really just improving on the cool things teachers were already doing in the classroom with Google Maps.”
  • The importance of feedback from teachers, Jonathan Rochelle “There is no education classroom that is perfect, it is constant iteration and innovation.” Jaime Casap, “The feedback button has a bad rap with technology…what actually happens to that feedback…Here the Classroom team is actually reading this line of feedback and I always encourage teachers to use that feedback button.”
  • The future of GoogleEDU and ads on GoogleEDU tools, “Search and information are part of education. A lot of these things that students would be doing, they are already doing. Gmail, for example. ” Ads….
  • “Education levels the playing field. Information is education. And teachers taking information and converting it into intelligence…and I think that the web and internet is how (Google) helps to level the playing field”.


This is a really important issue if the field of education is going to take full advantage of the learning powers of the internet, mobile devices and emerging technologies in general. As an educator who has managed intimate academic and personal data on students in a public school, I know that the well-intentioned push to use data and technology to help students learn can easily push aside privacy and security safeguards for students and families.

Every educator and parent should be aware of the pledges many companies make regarding the collection and use of student data if they voluntarily sign on to the Student Privacy Pledge. In addition, the US Department of Education has created a preliminary set of requirements and best practices around student data use that can be found here.

I am impressed by ed tech companies like Clever that can simultaneously make technology more accessible and more manageable for teachers and students in schools, while also assuring privacy and security of student data. But administrators, teachers, and parents need to keep an eye on the ever changing user agreements of such apps and tech tools. This article really emphasized the importance of district tech directors and school administrators doing their due diligence and actually reading the privacy policies of the ed tech apps used in their schools. Just another thing to add to the plate of overburdened principals, right?!

If you want to read more about the legislative solutions that are being proposed for this student data issue and also let your Congressman know how you feel, get the Countable app and browse through the education bills they have listed there.

How School Districts Seal Their Students Into Poverty

We all know that how schools are funded play a big role in the disparate student outcomes we have in America between racial groups and socio-economic levels. It can be difficult to understand how these often times complex funding mechanisms work, and even harder to visualize them.

Well, this week the folks at CityLab introduced me to the new ed policy center, EdBuild, which has created an interactive map of school districts and the percentage of students living in poverty in each of them. The smart folks at CityLab do a great job of breaking down some of the startling discoveries that can be made by looking at this data across the country, but just by browsing on my own my former district (Seattle, WA) and my prospective future district (Portland, OR), I can start to see my way to an explanation of disparate resources, student test scores and the overall reputations of those districts.

Student Survey Infographic

Nearly six months ago I conducted one of my first student interest surveys as a teacher. It was a modest attempt to learn about the learning habits and preferences of some of my 5th and 6th grade English students. To fulfill the requirements of the Teach-Now assignment I had to create and execute the survey using the Survey Monkey site. Since then I have learned to create Google Forms, added the Google Forms template gallery to my GAFE repertoire and played around with the results of such forms in Google Sheets.

Lo and behold, what arrives in my inbox just today? An update from the incredible infographics web creator, Piktocharts, announcing that you can now import Survey Monkey results and instantly make eye-catching charts! And what do I find when I start playing around with the beta version of Survey Monkey imports in Piktocharts, that I am able to link Google Sheets (and thus, the results of a Google Form) into a beautiful Piktochart infographic as well! You can watch a quick tutorial of how to import your Survey Monkey results into Piktochart here.

Needless to say, it was a good and productive day. Below you will find the results of my student interest survey in the form of an easily created Piktochart infographic. So easy and so cool and just the first of many to come!

Heads up: click on the infographic for best viewing on the web.

TN Student Interest Survey

The Global Education Conference 2014



I have signed up as a member of the Global Education Conference (GEC), which will take place completely online during International Education week (November 17-21). I have also registered my beloved cause of choice, Long Way Home, as an official partner organization.

On the GEC website they state the following as their mission:

The Global Education Conference is a collaborative, world-wide community initiative involving students, educators, and organizations at all levels. It is designed to significantly increase opportunities for building education-related connections around the globe while supporting cultural awareness, recognition of diversity, and educational access for all.
The conference seeks to present ideas, examples, and projects related to connecting educators and classrooms with a strong emphasis on promoting global awareness, fostering global competency, and inspiring action towards solving real–world problems. Through this event, it is our hope that attendees will challenge themselves and others to become more active citizens of the world. Let us learn, question, create, and engage in meaningful, authentic opportunities within a global context!

My goals are two-fold; as an educator teaching internationally I am interested in connecting with other educators around the world and learn from them. I am particularly interested in learning how teachers are connecting their classrooms in one country or region with another to create a meaningful inter-cultural exchange and cultivate global competencies in their students. This is a goal I have for my professional practice.

As a representative of Long Way Home, I am eager to spread the word of the good work we are doing in Guatemala building a sustainable green school, integrating environmental education, and designing a future green vocational school. I would like to expand our network and potentially find some professional development opportunities for our teaching staff in Guatemala (in Spanish).

But really, I am new to this kind of online conference format and am just trying to get my feet wet. I am interested to see how to make this a useful yearly learning and networking experience.

If you are interested in participating here are a GEC resources you should look at right away:

  1. Sessions & Speaker Schedule
  2. Keynote & Distinguished Speakers
  3. The Twitter Tagboard for the latest GEC updates and discussions
  4. Time Zone Scheduler – After all it is a global conference!

I am particularly interested in the following speakers:

  • Vicky Colbert, Executive Director of Fundación Escuela Nueva Volvamos a la Gente
  • Paul Salopek, journalist and founder of the iEarn program
  • Emily Havens of OpenIDEO
  • John Mergendoller of the Buck Institute for Education

The Google Starter Toolkit for Teachers

Google Toolkit for Teachers

This Daily Genius infographic displays the basics in getting started using the suite of Google productivity mobile- and web-based apps and programs. These tools can help a teacher stay organized, curriculum map, lesson plan, create original materials, get student feedback, foster peer-to-peer collaboration, along with a host of other 21st Century skills. As a Teach-Now student-teacher we collaborated on assignments, shared research materials and communicated via these GAFE tools. On top of that, I have a Chromebook, which I absolutely love and recommend as a classroom device. In the above infographic you can see red boxes that I need to check because I am NOT yet using those Google tools. If you see a colored circle, then I am already using that tool in the classroom or as a professional productivity helper. Below I will briefly describe how I am already using the tool, if it is circled. Or, how I might use a tool that carries a red box next to it and could be leveraged in the future to further my teaching practice. My aim is to establish a baseline for my tech toolkit as a professional and see how it grows and evolves over the years.

Privacy & Security Tools – I have used a two-step verification (although it becomes a nuisance if you live or travel abroad), incognito mode to hide my history and not leave cookies, and I have learned that opt-outs are really important when managing a group of students on the Drive suite, for example. The opt-outs allow you to manage how students can interact, and more importantly, can control how they cannot interact.

Drive/Docs/Sheets/Slides – When I bought my Chromebook, it came with a 100 gigs of free Drive storage, which is not a tremendous amount, but enough to get you started using Docs, Sheets and Slides to your heart’s content. I am currently sharing videos of the lessons I am teaching for the clinical portion of my Teach-Now certification program with my cohort-mates. If you desire more Drive storage space, Google offers comparable monthly cloud storage plans to those of Dropbox and others.  Docs is a powerful collaboration tool, for creation and research. I have converted many Excel and Powerpoint files to sheets and slides, respectively. That allows me to have access to them on my phone or via the web at any time without the need for a physical storage device.

Calendar – Quite possibly my favorite Google productivity tool, I admit to being completely dependent upon my GCalendar. It’s the only way to keep track of a busy life, in my opinion. You can make as many personal or professional calendars as you like and share them with those who need access to your schedule. I know teachers who use GCalendar to curriculum map and as a weekly lesson planner.

Forms – I have little experience with Forms, but I am in the process of creating my first Forms quiz, which I will use to provide mastery vocabulary, phonics and reading practice for a small group of 3rd grade ESL students I work with after school here in Korea. My Teach-Now clinical instructor, Robert Mace, uses Google Forms regularly as a simple testing platform because Forms automatically analyzes and gathers the results of the test into a Google Sheet. When he uses it as a formative assessment, he immediately grades the students directly following the quiz, same class, same day, on the class projector, for all to see and learn from. He teaches high school science and has built a classroom culture that is positive and supportive enough for this to be appropriate. I am not sure I would use it in that same exact way at the elementary level. It is also recommended by many tech savvy teachers as a great parent and student feedback tool.

Mapmaker – Looks like an awesome community building, data or geography lesson waiting to happen. I have no experience with this tool as of yet. Stay tuned.

A Google A Day – My fiance and I are always commenting on the different ways we use Google to search for the same thing. Everyone seems to have a preferred practice or different tricks they know to get the best search results. I have a few Pins saved on Pinterest related to effective and efficient Google searching. Check out the plethora of graphics related to the subject on Pinterest here. Intentionally teaching search tips would be a practical lesson for all students and is certainly one strategy to use to close the digital divide between affluent and high-poverty students.

Google Now – I don’t currently use Google Now as my home page. I have in the past. In a quick search, I did not find anything obvious that recommended the use of this tool for teachers.

Accessibility Tools – I am not familiar with either the specific tools or how they are used in special education. However, I have seen tablets and apps used in special education classrooms to aid non-verbal and physically handicapped students. There are certainly some powerful tools out there for this use.

Blogger – Obviously I think blogging and social media should become more widely used as learning tools in the classroom. Their relevance for students cannot be questioned and the power of the collective information that can both be accessed and created via blogs and social media is immense. Conspicuously, I am posting this on WordPress. In the past I used Blogger to share my experiences working and living abroad. There are many great blogging platforms out there from the slick Silvrback to the clean creative space of Medium and the micro-blogging marketing monster that is Tumblr. Determine your purpose, identify the best platform and get posting!

Open Online Education – Course Builder has changed to Open Online Education, I was completely unaware of this Google product until now. I know of teachers who use Google Sites to create an online classroom platform. And, like many, I am anticipating the release of the Google Classroom learning management system (LMS) to a larger audience once it gets beyond beta. Course Builder is different because it is the MOOC building platform for Google and is therefore meant for a massive student audience. I have taken a few MOOC’s, but none on the Course Builder platform and I have not seen much buzz about it on social media. If you are interested in designing and creating an Open Educational Resource, here is a 7-step guide from Julie Willcott and EdSurge.

Google+ = I have just begun using Google+ as part of my Personal Learning Network (PLN). I have taken part in a couple professional development Google Hangouts hosted on Google+. The CUE GIE Summits are held on Google+ and all of their Hangouts On Air are recorded and archived for future access. I am a member of the Buck Institute for Education’s (BIE) community on Google+, a community focused on project-based learning (PBL). Right now the BIE Google+ community is collaborating on the creation of the BIE Gold Standard for PBL. Finally, this Deeper Learning MOOC used their Google+ community as the principal collaboration and communication tool of the course.

Chrome – You already know that I am a Google fan. Chrome is their best product in my opinion. For me, it is even more essential than their search engine. I use the TechSmith SnagIt extension, my favorite for impressing friends with maps and labeled graphics. I also use the Diigo and Pinterest extension buttons for social media bookmarking. I use the Google website shortening extension for Twitter posts. And finally, and most importantly here in South Korea, I use the Hola Better Internet VPN extension to access content (mostly entertainment) that is limited by region. The predominant web browser here in Korea is Internet Explorer….IE!!!!! It is offensive to me.

Moderator – Not sure about this one. It looks like an out-of-date Google site to me. Not sure if this is a product they are still updating and improving and see as a future asset. It was intriguing because the caption mentioned its usefulness as a PD tool. I have my doubts though.

Translator – The website and the app are in heavy use by me. Of course, it has its limitations and one should be cautious of the fluency and grammatical accuracy it will produce, especially depending on the languages translated. However, when I was working as a Spanish language bilingual instructional assistant in a Seattle public school, myself and the rest of the bilingual staff that was called on to translate the school newsletter, permission slips, and legal documents constantly relied on Google Translate for quick reference. Use it with reasonable expectations. It could certainly be used in classrooms to get the gist of a piece of information that was found in foreign language.

Sites – This is an easy way to create your own website, with limited design possibilities. One of my Teach-Now instructors used it as his online classroom platform and had built himself a large cache of great education resources that could be accessed by students and teachers alike. I have not created a Google Site myself, but may consider in the future.

Groups – My primary experience with Google Groups was in my capacity as a board member for Long Way Home, a non-profit building a sustainable school out of repurposed waste materials in rural Guatemala. We used Groups to communicate, share documents, and collaborate on assigned domains of responsibility between US-based board members and Guatemala-based staff. It is easy to use, easy to set up and can facilitate collaboration in many basic ways and can be a closed classroom community as opposed to a Google+ community which is public.

Chromebooks – There is a lot to write here, from the basic pros and cons of the device in the classroom, to the policy debates around large tech role outs like the botched, highly-publicized iPad adoption by LA Unified School District which got a superintendent fired. There are Bring-Your-Own-Device proponents (BYOD) and those who point to the digital divide and say we need to spend the money to close the gap among students of different socio-economic backgrounds. This is a subject for a whole other post. For now, I will say that I am typing this post on a Chromebook, I have used my Samsung Chromebook for the entirety of my online teacher certification program with Teach-Now, if you are in need of a new computer and don’t want to invest in a costly Apple product, then consider buying a Chromebook. The cloud is the future and the present, Chromebooks operate primarily in the cloud and I am a big proponent of it as a professional device and a classroom device.

Scholar – I think Google Scholar has been around long enough that most educators and students of a certain age are aware of it as learning resource. As more open source academic, peer-reviewed content becomes available on the web, Scholar should grow as a hub for that content. It is a the best free search tool in establishing the most important or most recent scholarly articles on a particular subject or by a particular academic. But it is limited by copyright in terms of what can actually be accessed and read or downloaded from it.

Cultural Institute – Last, but certainly not least, is the Google Cultural Institute, which if you click on one link in this entire post, it should be this one! Do it now! This is a huge rabbit hole of art, history, art history and cultural heritage in one digital museum site. I was unaware of this resource until making this post and upon first look, I am thoroughly impressed. The collection of historic images alone is a fantastic resource for teachers and of personal interest to me as history lover. I could see teachers accessing high-res images important works of art from The Art Project to show and lead a Visual Thinking Strategies discussion. I recommend perusing the collection of Life Magazine photos for starters. And as a resident of Korea, I am planning on perusing the Jeju National Museum archive as well.