So in last weeks HHH post, I kind of gave you a glimpse of how Google Apps could help increase productivity and organization in your homeschool.
Today, I thought I would get a little more nitty gritty and outline some of the specific ways you can use Google Apps…
First off, you will need to sign up with a Google Account, if you haven’t already. You will also need to sign each of your homeschoolers up with an account. They are free, and relatively painless to register for. Here is the link to get started. One Google registration is all you need to get signed up for ALL of Google’s many services, including Google Docs, Gmail, Google Talk IM, Google Calendar, and Google Sites. If you have a Blogger account, you are already covered.
One of the first things you will want to do is explore the Google Docs interface. Like I said last week, this is the keystone of the Google product line.
If you have worked with Microsoft Office at all, Google Docs will be a breeze, because it has most of the same capabilities – – word processor, spreadsheet, and presentations. It will even upload and download in Office file extensions! For a full tutorial on how to use the Docs interface, go through this edutech lesson.
My favorite homeschool use of the program is as a lesson planner/calendar. I create a spreadsheet grid that I use to keep track of the boys daily assignments. The great thing is that once I share the sheet with their google accounts, they can access my spreadsheet from any computer, make changes to it, cross things off when they have completed them, etc.
(click to view in full screen)
The daily assignment sheet, in essence, becomes a collaborative effort. Even if you are unschooling, and aren’t anally retentive like me, Google spreadsheets are still a great way to track what your kids are accomplishing, and a place for you to provide resources and suggestions for what they are currently interested in. You can both access the spreadsheet in real time from two different computers, which is the true cool feature.
I have started having my boys submit all their written assignments in Google Docs as well. There just isn’t a better way, in my opinion. When they finish an essay, for instance, and share it with me, I don’t have to print it out, or worry about losing it, or anything. I can just access it on my computer, make comments, notes, and highlight any areas that need more attention. Then they go back in, see my notes and make their changes, and voila! I file it in a subject-specific file and can keep it until infinity. This is a great way to store items if you live in a state that requires portfolios of each student’s annual work. Instant access from any computer, and you have saved several trees in the process.
Next week, I will cover some of the even cooler, creative ways for using Google Apps in your homeschool. Stay tuned…
To see all of my Friday’s Hardwired Hints posts, go to my HHH page!