Now I am not planning on writing a weekly diary on our Google Apps life at all, but I think week 2 (and possibly 3) will be a key milestone in our experience.
So, Monday we managed to get Mail working. It was my fault as I had some settings wrong in the Control Panel on our domain, but the excellent Carl at @csnewmedia (www.csnewmedia.co.uk) sorted it out. Mail worked. Now to check it properly.
I am busy making sites with the children this week so no time for ‘proper’ email lessons, so for now, children will have the ability to email each other but not anyone else. Makes it much safer. So I lauched Chrome, Firefox and IE and logged in with different accounts and began testing.
Firstly, could I email from one account to another? (Yes)
Could I email to an account outside of the school?(no)
Could I email into the school? (no)
Perfect. The settings were there. Children can only send emails to people from @stjohnsapps.co.uk which is what I want for now. Later on, after consultation with parents and proper email/esafety lessons, we will possibly open email up for Year 5/6. For now, email works as a notification system letting you know when someone has shared a document or a website with you.
So this week, in all 6 classes the lesson was the same. Here is the email system, here’s 10minutes on how it works and then let’s crack on and make a website.
Children love the email. I mean absolutely love it. It’s perfect because it auto-fills in the child’s name so you only need to know a few letters. I taught all of the children how to forward messages to me if they received an inappropriate message and then we were away. I have checked my mail at home, but Gmail is so quick it only takes a few minutes. I have had about 15messages all week. 10 or so saying ‘hi’ and another few asking how to do things like add calendar events and attach files to emails.
The weird thing is getting the message across that this is internal messaging only. The children can’t message outside of the school domain so in that way, it is exactly the same as a VLE, but it will let me give external access to teachers for example.Let’s hope parents see it as a useful tool too.
Once we got the email playing out of the way, we talked about how to use Sites. Now some had played a bit last week and at home too. One has made a cookery website, another a games-based website and one about football. Scary but exciting. So we made a bit of a plan and showed them how to create the basic site. The key is that one person makes the site, then shares ownership with their group (and their teacher). Then they crack on and add text, pictures and whatever they want really. With Year 5/6 I have used this as a chance to talk to them about copyright and providing a link back to the site they have taken information or pictures from. Some get this, some don’t. The sites are starting to come together and I think with another few sessions, we’ll be able to share them. I am looking forward to seeing what the Year 3/4 come up with when they make their local area websites! It’s been a fantastic week.
Oh and this afternoon, two weeks in, we included the first mention of the system on our weekly newsletter. A parent meeting will follow after Easter, but there really is no need at the moment. It’s all lovely and safe.
I will try and put together a guide of how to a school can get started in the next week or so as I know others want to play and try it, it really is a simple thing to use!
Next week? Showing it to the management team on Monday and then planning the Inset training for the end of March plus showing children how to include videos on to their sites… I will also be amending my new ICT policy to ensure it sits well with the Google Apps stuff I’m doing. I think it will, but I may need to make some amendments.
Also, I have had contact with photopeach who have now provided accounts for every child in my school so I will be sharing that soon. Not sure when yet though.
If you want to see what children do when let loose, give them Google Apps with some key tools turned on. I haven’t even started on Aviary, Picasa, Blogger, News, Books or Groups yet!