Google is really allowing us to transition into modifying and redefining [teaching and learning] because of how it enables sharing, collaborating and getting feedback between various groups. We now have concrete strategies and tools to achieve our goals.
The AISD made efforts to use technology as part of its strategic plan, but struggled with collaboration. Sharing information involved numerous back-and-forth emails with attachments created in different versions of Microsoft Word. Accessing and sharing documents during class ate up valuable instructional time. The district also faced the challenge of truly integrating technology into teaching and learning. Schools had computer labs with PCs and Macs, as well as netbooks, iPads, and laptops in classrooms, but lesson plans didn’t integrate devices and technology into learning. Two years ago, Arlington residents passed a levy to bring more technology into local schools, primarily by introducing more devices into classrooms for students and teachers. The AISD used the newly-raised funds to create a minimum standard for technology access in every classroom, prioritizing the addition of devices for students to use on a daily basis.
The AISD chose Chromebooks for students in grades 3-12 because of their affordability, ease of use, battery life and ability to meet student needs across schools and grade levels. After the introduction of Chromebooks, teachers led the charge with G Suite for Education. Early adopters used Google in their classrooms, and administrators quickly caught on to its effectiveness and ease of use. Now, everyone from the top down uses G Suite for Education. The simplicity of G Suite for Education has helped spread adoption. “Teachers are instantly sharing documents with students through direct links and Google Classroom,” says Barry Fox, director of instructional technology at the AISD. “Students hop on board, create and work in small groups. It’s increased collaboration tremendously.” “On any given week during the school year, we see 50 to 80,000 Docs created,” says Jim Holland, an instructional technology specialist at the AISD. “Google has become an expectation. Students, admins, teachers — all users are expected to know their Google login because so many things are tied into the platform.”