IT Update: Seeking New Teaching Tools? There’s an App for That

While Google email and calendar tools have become standard for most faculty since the college converted to the applications two years ago, many instructors may be unaware of how other Google Apps for Education tools can enhance both their teaching and their students’ learning.

“Many faculty members are somewhat shocked to learn about some of the functions and resources available to them,” says Dr. Lara Niles, IT applications administrator.

For example, she says, instructors often use Blackboard to post exams and homework, but they can use Google Apps to make previous exams or assignments easily accessible, collaborate on documents, and schedule and conduct individual or small-group sessions with students.

Some of the primary Google Apps for Education tools are:

  • Gmail: Email and instant messaging with storage and search functions that can help instructors find information quickly. All ACC students and employees receive Gmail, (aka ACCmail), accounts.
  • Google Calendar: Often used to schedule staff meetings, Google Calendar can be an efficient way for instructors to share events or schedules and set up office hour appointments with their students.
  • Google Chat: Instructors can communicate with students via voice, text, or video anytime, anywhere in the world at no charge.
  • Google Drive: Like Google Docs, Google Drive lets instructors collaborate with students on documents in real-time instead of attaching files to an email. Once they install Google Drive on their computer or mobile device, instructors can synchronize files to web-based “cloud” storage so that the files can be accessed anytime, from anywhere.
  • Google Sites: Instructors can use Google Sites to store related documents, such as rubric templates or lesson plans, in one place where multiple users can access them.

The Google Apps Help Site for Faculty and Staff at ACC includes detailed information on each of these features and functions. The Workshops and Handouts webpage includes links to step-by-step instructions and online workshops for using most Google App functions. The page also includes links to Google websites and webinars with additional instructions. Finally, Google Apps Experts on each campus can answer questions, and in some cases, help instructors get started with a particular application.

“Becoming familiar with these tools may seem overwhelming, however, instructors find that the tools can really enhance their teaching and help them effectively communicate with their students,” Niles says.

For more information about Google Apps for Education, contact Niles at lniles@austincc.edu.

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