Welcome to your Online Teaching Journey!
How to pack the traditional classroom and move it online? — The riddle of 2020 for many teachers and educators around the world.
Let’s face it, most of us don’t like abrupt change. Especially when it comes to the way we’ve been doing our jobs for so long. You know how things work. Everything’s familiar. There’s very little room for surprises.
Then comes that unexpected wave of change, shaking up this familiar setting. And even if that change is a step forward towards learning new skills or kickstarting a more agile workflow, it usually feels ‘heavy’ at first.
Going from the physical to the digital classroom is similar moving houses. You first need to identify what to pack. Then set up your digital classroom right. Understand how things work there. And finally explore any needed add-ons or 3rd party tools to customise your classroom.
An e-Guide by GAT Labs and Kim Mattina
This eGuide is developed by Google Workspace Partner and global leader in Google Workspace management, audit & security — GAT Labs, and Renowned Author, GoogleEDU Gold Product Expert, Google Certified Trainer and Educator and Technology Teacher — Kim Mattina.
It provides K-12 teachers with easy-to-follow steps, best practices and tips on taking the physical classroom online in Google Workspace for the new school year.
From packing your physical classroom the right way, to understanding the digital tools you have there and how to best use them to Maximise and Secure your digital teaching environment in Google Workspace.
P.S: This eGuide is divided into SIX pages for SIX steps.
STEP ONE: The Physical VS. Digital Classroom— Key Components
First things first… Let’s roll up our sleeves and pack
So what does your traditional K-12 classroom look like?
What are its main components? A teacher, students, desks, book shelves and an interactive board? Maybe some creative wall hangings? Well, you get the gist…
Imagine having a box and throwing in ONLY the main tools you’ll need to pack… Make a list of it.
Now let’s go over your digital classroom. What are its main components?
There are six main components for any digital classroom 👇
Now let’s take a brief look at each of these six components:
a. Desktop, Laptop, Tablet, etc.
Whether your K-12 school or district provides staff and students with 1:1 devices or follows a ‘Bring your Own Device’ (BYOD) policy, the device you use plays an important role. Why?—Because not all devices are built equal.
Since Google Workspace for Education is a set of cloud-based tools, any computer with internet connection would practically work for online teaching there.
However, choosing a device that ‘boosts’ the tools you use can go a long way. To that, 1:1 Chromebooks would definitely be our pick. Why?
Let’s put it this way, Google Workspace + Chrome = a match made in heaven.
Chromebooks are simple, secure, and shareable for teachers and students. They also make it much easier to manage and secure students remotely. Checkout our list of 10 most popular Chromebooks among schools in 2020 here.
Remember: That’s just our recommendation. If you’re already using another device that’s working great for you, keep going by all means.
- Headsets & Mic: You can never invest ‘too much’ in your headset and mic— Think of them as your digital ‘ears and mouth’. If one fails, major disruption follows.
Remember, you’ll be wearing your headset for quite some time everyday, so make sure you choose a comfortable and maybe wireless set.
- Printer: Even if your classroom is fully digital, throwing in a basic printer always comes in handy. Especially when it comes to mapping out workloads or complicated tasks.
- Additional Monitor: An additional monitor connected to your main device helps you see all or most of your students during virtual meetings, while using your primary monitor for your content.
- Chromecast: You can also use a Chromecast to cast Google Meet to your TV and take the live classroom to the ‘bigger screen’ at your home.
- Additional Device: While an additional monitor will give you the option in Meet to see your student’s faces (very important) and present your material, it would be ideal if you also had an additional device that lets you monitor the student’s desktops. With GAT Lab’s Teacher Assist, every teacher can see their student’s desktops in real-time. This allows for meaningful intervention and helps keep the student ‘on-focus’.
- Video conferencing light: Adding video conferencing light brightens up your surroundings while conferencing with your students or peers.
Bonus: Lume Cube makes great portable light that is compatible with mobile devices, laptops, Chromebooks or computers. This little light has a lot of power! – To receive a discount, use Kim’s Lume Cube referral code link.
- Blue light blocking glasses: These glasses help reduce eye strain, headaches and may improve sleep after spending long hours in front of the screen.
2. Reliable Internet Connection 📶
You’ll want to make sure that your broadband connection is strong and reliable. There’s nothing worse than being cut off amid a live classroom session or not being able to log-in on time for class.
*Security Tip 🔓: Make sure your Wi-Fi network is Private and Secure to protect you from hackers piggybacking on your session to gain control of your device.
Six Easy Steps to Improve Network Security:
- Change the name of your router from the default.
- Replace your router’s pre-set password with a Strong one.
- Hide your network from view.
- Keep your router software up to date.
- Disable Remote Administration.
- Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network).
Fun Fact: Did you know that you can use some Google Workspace tools offline when you don’t have internet access 🙋♀️? — Yes, you can use Gmail, Drive, and Calendar offline.
Check with your Google Workspace admin to have Google Workspace set up for offline work.
3. Cloud Collaboration and Communication tools – (Google Workspace)
Now on to Google Workspace for Education covers your FIVE main online teaching needs.
Let’s briefly go through what you can do with each tool (Skip this part if you’re familiar with the Google Workspace for Edu):
Google Docs is your online document processor, where you and/or multiple users can work on one document together, in real-time.
The person who creates the document becomes its Owner and can grant edit, comment, or view access to the documents.
Use Google Slides to create engaging virtual slides. It’s also great for collaborating with students on multimedia presentations in real-time.
Use Google Sheets to create spreadsheets to track important data, trends, as well as gather information.
Use Google Sites to create a simple website to host materials, curriculum, or projects — No web design or coding skills required.
For example, you can create a Class website, use it to include course materials and rich content including videos, images, slides, and audio recordings.
Google Drive is your school’s Cloud Storage space. It’s where all your created Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, etc. are stored.
From there you can create and share documents, slides, folders, etc. and access them remotely from anywhere. You can also create personal and shared drives as needed.
Jamboard; the simple interactive whiteboard app loved by most teachers!
Use Jamboard with your students to share ideas, brainstorm and collaborate on a cool interactive board.
Gmail is your school’s main cloud-based email service. Your school will create individual email accounts for students and staff under its domain name. Every school has its own unique domain name (ex:firstname.lastname@example.org).
Use Gmail to communicate using simple email. Create archives in your Inbox, as well as monitor and control students’ email.
Google Meet is your core video conferencing tool to virtually meet up with students and peers.
Meet also integrates with Gmail to seamlessly manage schedules, appointments, meetings, and tasks.
Chat is Google Workspace’s messaging app. You can use it for 1:1 messaging or create a Room or Group to communicate with more than one person.
a. Rooms: Central location for teams to communicate and work together on an ongoing basis. A Room’s members can share files, assign tasks, and stay connected in one place.
b. Group messages: Chat directly with a few people on an ad-hoc basis.
- Google Groups
Departments, teams or classmates can communicate and collaborate using Google Groups in a more organized and efficient way.
Use Google Groups to email a group, invite a group to a Calendar event or share important Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms with relevant members.
- Google Classroom
Google Classroom is your learning management system (LMS). From there you can set assignments, communicate with students, and grade work — all in one collaborative digital space. How?
Student & Teacher Collaboration: Classroom offers teachers and students a digital workflow that supports posting resources, announcements, assignments, grades, feedback and rubrics. It also helps keep students and teachers stay organized by populating a class calendar, and a to-do list.
You can also use tools like GAT for Teachers to dig deeper into your Classroom efforts, student engagement and gain granular insight into things like assignments and grades.
a. Multiple Teachers: We know that, at times, there are multiple teachers in a classroom. Classroom allows for a primary teacher to have a co-teacher(s) to help manage and post information and differentiate instruction to specific students.
b. Parents: Google Classroom also allows parents and guardians to receive daily or weekly summaries of their child’s assignment status. Parents can opt in to receive these email notifications, stay in the know and be involved in their child’s remote learning process.
Use Google Forms as a survey tool to collect information, set quizzes, and analyze results in real-time.
Love using post-its? — Then you’ll find Keep super handy!
Keep is a note-taking service in Google Workspace to add quick color coded notes, lists, photos and even audio of what’s on your mind as you go.
Your virtual agenda. Use Google Calendar to schedule meetings, share events, and send reminders to colleagues and students.
You can also create multiple calendars. For example: personal calendar, staff calendar and classroom calendar
5. Administration & Security
- Admin Console
The Admin Console is where Google Workspace administrators manage settings, users and devices for all users.
- GAT for Education (Tools)
GAT for Education offers a family of Google Workspace Security, Audit and Management tools every school needs with essential insights and capabilities beyond those available in the admin Console. Ask your school administrator to investigate this toolset to see if it’s a good fit for your needs.
4. Digital Curriculum
When transitioning from the physical to the virtual classroom, keep in mind that you won’t be able to cover as much material as before. You also won’t be teaching the same.
First, you need to take your face to face lessons and activities, and refresh them for remote learning. This can be challenging at first, especially if you’re not tech savvy, but don’t worry! — You’ll soon get a handle on it.
To that, one thing we highly recommend is Keep it Simple so that you don’t get overwhelmed. How?
Below is a 4-Step Keep it Simple model that’ll guide you while preparing your lessons:
Some Success Tips:
A. Record YOUR own Videos
When developing your digital curriculum we highly recommend using your own video recordings in instruction and feedback. This makes your teaching more meaningful and helps your students form a ‘connection’ with you.
It also allows your students to learn at their own pace by watching them asynchronously — a super important aspect to consider when teaching remotely.
B. Use Google Workspace to Build your Digital Curriculum:
- Use Google Sites as a wiki page and let your students collaboratively work on their assignments there.
- Develop Fun Slides to support your lessons and keep students engaged.
- Record your class in Google Meet and send it to students to make it available for 24-48 hours.
You can also create a video, without the students, for an assignment with directions, feedback and expectations. That way your message will get across more directly.
- Use Spreadsheets as whiteboards or a place to collect information.
- Prepare digital Polls and Assessments using Classroom resources like Assignment, Quiz, Questions to check for understanding.
Remember, just like in the physical classroom, developing your digital curriculum the right way and tailoring it around every individual subject/ class is crucial to the success of your Classroom.
Are you working alone or with a co-teacher (or teacher assistant)? That’s one of the very first things to consider.
a. Teaching alone? If you’re teaching alone then you can tailor your digital curriculum, classroom etiquette, tools, etc. based on your own teaching preferences.
Need Help? — Don’t be afraid to ask.
You’ll also need to identify any areas you may need help with and talk them up with your supervisor or principle beforehand. This is very important to avoid burnout.
You can also use tools like Teacher Assist as your virtual assistant to take care of challenging Classroom management tasks like real-time screen monitoring, tab blocking and more.
b. Working with a co-teacher? Make sure to align your teaching strategy, preferences and digital classroom expectations with your co-teacher beforehand.
Schedule regular ‘Catch up’ Meet meetings. Explore trickier lesson plans together and always test your tools before class.
It’s great having a co-teacher, but you’ll need to make sure you’re on the same page at all times.
Now on to your students — the center of all your efforts.
There are SIX questions to constantly ask yourself as you prepare and lead through your digital classroom:
- What will they see?
- What do you expect from them?
- Classroom etiquette?
- Individual digital learning needs?
- Are they following up?
- Are you having enough 1:1 time with each student?
Stop reading! Now write them down on a post-it (or use Google Keep) to revisit them as you go.
Constantly asking yourself these questions will help you keep important things in check at all times.
Check p.2 for STEP TWO: Build your Digital Classroom – Ultimate EdTech Toolbelt 👇