Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Way of the Google Drive

I'm wrapping up a short series of posts about an upcoming conference session at miGoogle 2015. (And I was thrilled to find out today we'll be presenting it at the Michigan State University College of Education Technology conference too!)

The first two posts in the series were:

Now it's time to look at The Way of the Google Drive, which happens to be the name of the conference session.

I'll start at the end of the story, when I first heard the phrase. 

I had just finished introducing a class of fifth graders and their teacher to Google Apps. They all wrote to me about it shortly after. 

The teacher thanked me for opening her eyes to technology as a tool. Many students thanked me for encouraging them to use technology wisely. I loved hearing from all of them, but one touched me in a special way. A boy wrote, 

"Mr. Petty, Thank you for teaching us the way of the Google Drive."

Now, I always start my presentations with the big picture, far beyond the "click here" and "follow these steps". But I loved how weighty that student made it sound--"The Way of the Google Drive".

So what did I tell them? What is this "Way"?

I gave them what I call my Tools talk. Using the example of digging holes with hands, toy shovels, real shovels and then enormous digging machines, we talk about how better tools always help us do more. 

Of course, so many people think tools are here to make things easier or to save time. They do those things, but there's always some innovative thinker who can see beyond saving time and he or she accomplishes something with the tool that blows away the competition.

I remind students that the computers on their desks or the phones in their pockets are the most powerful tools the world has known. 

So what "more" could these tools help us do in school? 

Here are three ways in which technology can do more amazing things:
  • More learning
  • More connecting
  • More creating
That is where technology can shine in school. Or I should say teachers and students can shine by using the tools. We can learn, connect (collaborate) with others and create in amazing ways that were never before possible. 

I connect it with their dreams. How much further could they go? 

With most classes, I can feel the life returning when I tell them this. I see it in their eyes. Their thank-you notes are evidence.

In reflecting on that student's nearly spiritual expression of what I had presented--this "Way of the Google Drive--I have added one more thought. I love the Google tools because they are so simple and accessible that they get out of the way and let the good ideas come through.

Google tools are not the only ones that do this, but they do it incredibly well. I'd say Twitter and even Facebook are good examples of this Way as well. What the users care about comes through loud and clear.

And like any good tool, the ideas become something more. They are amplified.

A note about the conference

We will not dwell on these big picture ideas in the session. Instead we will see how they play out through practical examples. 

What have we seen happen when the inspiration of art meets the power of technology in school? Which tools lead to amazing learning or impressive creations? How are students and teachers changed? Those answers will be the real focus of our presentation.

I'm doing a challenge this month to post on one of my blogs every day. It's in preparation for my conference session, The Way of the Google Drive. Be sure to follow me on Twitter or on either blog to keep up with the "thoughts and tools to inspire". 

Click here to see all the posts from this blog with the tag The Way of the Google Drive.

photo credit: Beach Shovel via photopin (license)

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