Monday, March 31, 2008

Google Docs' Offline Feature's Role in Cloud Computing and Education

In my excitement about Google Docs' new offline feature I overlooked writing about some of the possible implications of this new feature for education. One the drawbacks to cloud computing is that it relies on Internet connectivity. The OLPC and Classmate laptops rely on cloud computing for much of their functionality. The with cloud computing is if your Internet connection or network is unreliable then the inexpensive OLPC and Classmate laptops lose much of their functionality.

Google Docs'
new offline feature could change the way we look at cloud computing. There is a discussion among many tech bloggers that the technology employed by Google for the offline feature of Google Docs could be used in other cloud computing applications. If this is true it could represent cost savings for school districts. Most cloud computing applications that schools would use are available in some form for free which can reduce software costs. Cloud computing applications like Google Documents offer a lot of free storage space which can free network server space for school districts.

The potential benefit of taking cloud computing offline is very significant for students without Internet access at home. Students will be able to start a collaborative project at school where they have Internet access, work on a project at home then come back to school to sync their work with their classmates.

Free Technology For Teachers: Hello Google Docs Offline! Goodbye Word Processor

Today Google announced an offline feature for Google Documents. Now Google Docs users can work on documents without being connected to the Internet. The only reason I haven't fully committed to using Google Docs for all of my word processing needs is the need to be online to edit my work. With the new offline feature of Google Documents I will probably be doing all of my word processing on Google Docs.

Applications for Educators
One of the problems I frequently hear from teachers trying to use collaborative web tools in the classroom is concern about Internet connectivity. Nothing is more frustrating than having a great lesson plan involving an Internet resource to go to plan "B" because your school's Internet connection is too slow or dead. Now with Google Documents' offline feature if you plan to have your students work collaboratively with a document, spreadsheet, or presentation your students can keep working even if your Internet connection is lost.

Here is Google's explanation of their new offline feature.

Here is Robert Scoble interviewing Ken Norton, Product Manager at Google, about the new Google Docs offline feature.

Free Technology For Teachers: Free Reading - Open Resource for Literacy Education

Free is a wiki full of great resources for early literacy teachers. Free is full of lesson plans incorporating children's literature. Free Reading also includes many activities incorporating basic phonics and letter recognition. The video section of Free contains videos of teachers and students carrying out the activities found on the website.

Applications for Educators
The best aspect of Free Reading is that it is an open community resource. Any teacher can sign up and contribute to the resource. If you have a lesson plan that works well you can share it. If you borrowed a lesson plan from Free Reading and modified to fit your needs, contribute your ideas. For teachers that are just getting started in the profession, the videos of lesson plans in action is a valuable learning resource.

Embedded below is one of the videos from Free Reading.

Free Technology For Teachers: Math Cats- Math Games for Elementary Kids

Since I posted the mouse video earlier, it is only fitting that I talk about Math Cats now.

Math Cats is a website full of short math activities and math games. The activities and games are based on word problems. What is nice about the games is that they are fairly straight-forward and easy for students to self-start. The wide range of games and activities make Math Cats a good resource for teachers trying to differentiate instruction. Math Cats is appropriate for students in elementary and lower middle school grades.

Free Technology For Teachers: Planning Time and Mice

In the school where teach all teachers have a cubicle workspace and we travel to various classrooms throughout the day. Today, in the cubicle room we found a mouse. Being "a man" I trapped the mouse and put it in a box to show my students later today before we release it.
Here is my little mouse video.