I’ve just completed my first month as a new Director of Instructional Technology at an independent K-12 school in Charlotte. I had spent several years as a specialist and tech resource teacher in the public school system working with iPad rollouts in ESL and then later for district-wide administration, teachers and students. Having spent so much time supporting a transition from PC to Apple products, I was fortunate to gain many classroom experiences in integrating iPads into the curriculum and seeing a transformation of the student as content consumer to content creator. I was honored to become an Apple Distinguished Educator this past year, which allowed me to make connections with other educators who are doing similar, but unique projects using Apple products in schools.
Back in April I was presenting at an Apple Learning Event and I was approached by an administrator from my current institution. She asked if I would be interested in helping her school deploy a one-to-one iPad/MacBook program. Of course I said yes, and, long story short, I am in the midst of a transition from PC and network folders to iPads, MacBooks and cloud storage with Google Apps for Education. Dream job!
The past few weeks have been spent on Google Drive and learning how to upload files from My Docs and shared folders to the cloud so that they can access these files from iPad and Mac devices. I am also encouraging our teachers to use Google Drive for collecting assignments from students and allowing them to see how students can work together with the built in collaborative features.
I submitted a question to my PLN on Twitter asking for advice on the best way to set up class folders and permissions/sharing settings and was thrilled when someone suggested that I look into gClass folders.
The gClass Folders script automatically generates shareable folders for students and teachers that are organized by class and period. You can find more information here: http://www.gclassfolders.com/ and here.
After a lot of searching on Google and YouTube, I began piloting gClass folders with all of my 7th grade teachers and students and now we are slowly branching out into other grade levels. The process has not been without its glitches and I have found that sometimes duplicate folders are created or if an email address has been entered incorrectly, I have to delete that class and start over because folders are in the wrong spot or duplicated.
The advantages of gClass Folders far outweigh some of the technical glitches that I have endured. I love that I can archive my students’ work at the end of the school year or quarter so that they have active class folders and archived class folders that serve as a digital portfolio of growth and achievement.
My teachers are psyched that they don’t have to deal with developing and teaching a file structure as gClass does that for you!
I decided to go with “school mode” since my teachers felt more comfortable having me run the script and check for errors. If you are an individual teacher using gClass, you can just choose teacher mode and manage everything from your end. I did create a brand new user called “gClass Folders” within our Google Apps for Education account. I didn’t want all of those folders cluttering up my account, so it was best to choose a separate account for the management side.
Here are some screenshots of what gClass looks like:
Each class contains a “Teacher” folder that only the teachers sees, an edit, view and assignment folder. The teacher folder is for materials and resources only shared with the teacher. The edit folder is for collaborative files that all students have edit rights to and the assignment folders are made for each individiual student and are shared with that one student and his/her teacher. Students can simply drag their work into that folder, and since the teacher has edit rights, he or she can grade the work with highlights and comments.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. I thank my Twitter PLN for the support in getting gClass up and running at my school, specifically @astillman