Digital Learning - G.A.F.E
For those of you not in the know, you may suppose that the acronym G.A.F.E is taken straight from a lonely hearts ad, whereas in fact it stands for Google Apps For Education; a suite of apps produced by Google that offer the publishing capability that rival Microsoft Office or iWorks.
Google have produced some heavy hitters that include Docs (Word or Pages equivalent), Sheets (Excel or Number), and Slides (Powerpoint or Keynote). They are managed through a filing system called Google Drive and it’s fantastic!
They don’t quite have the same usability as the mighty Microsoft or iWorks, but the G.A.F.E haven’t been around for long, so they are playing catch up and they are doing a good job....oh, and they are free!
The app ‘Google Drive’ offers the storage and starting place for all things Google. It’s a cloud-based storage that provides 15GB of free data (pricing plans are available), but considering any new document that is produced using a G.A.F.E. doesn’t use the generous 15GB there is plenty of space available to fill.
The apps offer some excellent features and one of these is real time collaboration. Conferencing over one document in real time is a fantastic feature, and you can also open up a revision history and check all changes that have been made to a document and restore to any previous version.
For those of you who are bamboozled by the world of cloud computing, using G.A.F.E is a simple way of shaking off the shackles that buying into expensive publishing programmes entail. At first, the concept of not needing to save a document (as it remains ‘live’), or knowing that your life’s work is sitting on a server farm in the U.S, takes some getting used to. However, accessing your work from any smart device and from anywhere with wifi comes with huge benefits.
From a teaching and learning point of view it is important for children to develop their publishing knowledge on a range of applications and not just using Microsoft Office because that’s what ‘we’ used. The G.A.F.E apps are very intuitive, and the ability for peer collaboration over projects is a refreshing and motivating way for children to work. It is argued that employers have certain levels of expectation when it comes to IT skills. These expectations will no doubt include the ability to collaborate digitally and to understand the ways of ‘cloud computing’ - so get ahead of the game!
Please visit www.google.com/intl/en_uk/edu/products/productivity-tools/ for further information and some working examples of the apps in action.
Any educationalists are welcome to book an appointment to speak with me at Dame Bradbury’s School if they would like to discuss this topic further.