|Image from Live.Classroom20.com/archive-and-resources|
I just want to start off saying that I had no idea what "GAFE" was before listening to this webinar. I have always been a very strong Google supporter and consider myself fairly knowledgeable in all things Google, so when I found this archived webinar, I knew I had to give it a listen.
This webinar was hosted by Classroom 2.0 Live, and the guest was Google-certified instructor Lisa Thumann. She quickly took the group through the "20 Need-To-Know Features of GAFE You Should be Using Today." Thankfully she explained what GAFE was before she started; Google Apps for Education. Turns out I have been using them for years, I just didn't know it!
I won't go into everything Lisa explained, but my favorite topics she covered were image editing in Google Docs, Slides, etc., Google search and research in Docs, and canned messages in Gmail. Instead of having to open up a third-party application or program to edit a photo that you want to use in a Google Doc or Presentation, you now have extensive options to crop, edit, resize, etc, any photo you'd like to include. I'm always struggling to switch between programs to present and edit photos, so I'm very excited about this. She also explained that you can now do a Google search directly in Google Docs. You can highlight text and instead of hyperlinking to a link you already have, you can put keywords into the search bar and search for a relevant link to use. Likewise, if you highlight a certain word or phrase and right click on it, you have the option to "research" that phrase. A sidebar will pop up that shows you websites, definitions, pictures, etc, that are relevant to what you're trying to learn more about. One other thing that I thought was really neat was the canned responses in Gmail. Basically, you can preset email messages, so if you send a lot of the same type of emails over and over, you can insert a canned response so you don't always have to type everything out again. I didn't even know this existed! Like I said, Lisa went into much greater detail on many more Google-related features, but those were some of the ones that were new or interesting to me.
Google is incredibly valuable to education in our 21st Century classrooms. I'm not sure there are many classrooms who have not accessed Google in some way, and I'm amazed every time Google comes out with another feature that can be used in education. It not only makes it easier for students to create, share, and learn, but it also helps the teacher communicate and collaborate with other teachers, parents, and students. It helps all users be more productive, and gives easy solutions to problems that may be much more difficult to tackle on any other software.
I am proud to say that my future students will be avid Google users. I love how much I can accomplish with the help of Google, and I know there is so much I still have to learn. I love that everything is streamlined and simple, and I'm excited for the increased functionality and productivity that Docs, Gmail, and all the Google Apps have. I think that my students will greatly benefit from using Google Apps, and I'm so excited to learn how to use these tools with my students!