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I Went to Google Next & Here's What I Learned

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Technology
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August 1, 2018

The OPSRC tech team went to San Francisco this past week for the Google Next Conference, and it was not only a great time in cool San Francisco weather, but it was also a great learning opportunity for us. We picked up a lot of things that we’re eager to share with you.

Next is Google’s annual conference where they talk about their cloud products. Session topics included how people currently use the product, training and certification related to current products and new features coming soon.

Below are my favorite things from this event.

CourseKit

CourseKit is, according to Google’s website, “a new set of tools to help instructors improve how they create, collect and give feedback on coursework.” Essentially, CourseKit allows you to assign and grade Google Docs, Sheets and Slides using any ole’ LMS with LTI built in. That means if you’re using Canvas, Moodle, BlackBoard or one of many other options, you can have Google Classroom-like features built right in. It allows you to use your preferred LMS and still have that G Suite integration available. Check out this video about it.

If you want to watch the session we attended, you can view it as well.

It’s a great program and I’m so excited about it. If you’re interested in trying it, sign up for early access now! Just head over to g.co/coursekit and get started.

The Snacks

I mean, you probably don’t care about this, but there were five-gallon buckets full of snacks and candy. It. Was. Insane.

I had way too many Sour Patch Kids.

Accessibility

On Tuesday, I attended a session about Chromebooks and accessibility. It was a great session that covered all the amazing tools the Chrome team has built into Chromebooks and G Suite. I had a great conversation with part of the team afterwards and got a lot of insight on things that might help schools with students who have disabilities. If this is something you’re working through as a district I would love to talk with you. You can view the session here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91H2AOJ1ntE

The Future of Google Drive

I love Google Drive, and I don’t think I could work without Docs, Sheets and Slides. However, I think we can all agree that sharing in Drive can be a pain. Making copies for people to edit, slapping items in a folder only to find that some people can’t access them, and just trying to find the things you need. If you have a district that’s really using Drive, sometimes it can be hard to navigate all the files.

Google announced on Wednesday that they have a new view coming to Drive, and I am so excited. It’s called Priority View.

It’s a new view coming this year that gives you a look at files you may want to use based on habit, e-mail and your calendar (among other things).

My favorite part of this is the Workspaces you see at the bottom. If you create a workspace and add people to it, any file you place there will automatically be shared with those in the space. You don’t have to worry about all those sharing permissions.

Also coming is a new smarter search for Drive. We’re excited to train you on all the new features as they roll out. We hope you are thinking about ways you can take advantage of all the cool features.

If you want the details, you can watch the session.

So Much More

Of course, I couldn’t include everything here in this article. But if you’re a Google nerd, or if something on the list jumped out at you, or if you’re just an education technologist and want to talk more in detail, don’t hesitate to reach out.

We’re excited to keep you up to date on all that Google is doing, and we want to make sure you’ve got all the technology help you need!

About the Author

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Ben Parker

Director, Technology

Ben serves as Director of Technology for the OPSRC. In this role, he will provide support to schools on technical issues and training on pressing technology topics. Ben will assist partner schools with trainings, comprehensive technology plans, e-Rate applications, technology purchasing consultation, and other school and district technology decisions.

Prior to working with OPSRC, Ben was the Director of Technology for the Locust Grove Public School District. Ben implemented a 1:1 tablet program in Locust Grove that saw 6th-12th graders go paperless in the classroom.

In his free time, Ben likes to read and play the drums.

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