Monday, 30 June 2014

Out and About - GEUG14

The 23rd of June saw me head off to the 'Google Apps For Education User Group 2014' conference. This year, the host was the University of York. A poignant venue as York was one of the first University in the UK to go Google Apps For Education (GAFE).

The event took place in the Ron Cooke Hub on the Heslington East Campus and was a perfect place to demonstrate the current innovative uses of the Google Suite of tools.

The presentations varied throughout the day from how different universities have implemented GAFE to how people have extended the functionality of the tools available to create new functions. New tools such as a library seating booking system were created in this way using Google Apps Script.

It seems like the main driver for some institutions going GAFE was actually rectifying the major IT headaches which were administrative email and calendar, swapping to the integrated Gmail and Calendar and using Hangouts resolved the majority of these issues. Institutions then delved into using Google Drive after experiencing the benefits.

A couple of key messages I have taken away from the day that I will talk to the team about would be:

  1. Chrome browser as a platform for education using Chrome for business.
  2. A lot of institutions developing using Google Apps Script to easily extend functionality.

As far as the teaching and learning agenda goes, Matthew Collins summed up the day for me quite nicely with - "You have to give academics something they can't get elsewhere" to iterate the point of not giving academics yet another tool which simply replaces something they currently do but giving them something new that is useful.

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