Saturday, December 2, 2017

Keeping Up With Google

Recently I was asked, "How do you stay up-to-date with Google updates?"

Great question! First off, if you think I am going to take credit for being "up-to-date" on Google or anything else for that matter, or that I have some sort of magic crystal ball that lets me see things before anyone else, you're sadly mistaken. Don't get me wrong, I'm quite flattered, but there are lots of people who know lots more about this stuff than I do. I've always said, "Good teachers are great thieves." Well, I may not be in a classroom, but I still practice a little petty larceny when it comes to tech info and updates. 😉

But I was just getting used to that...!

One of the amazing things about Google is their responsiveness to teacher input. When you click the little ❓ button in most GSuite for Education applications, someone at Google really does actually read your feedback! In my opinion, I think that shows how committed they are to (1) making their products better, and (2) helping teachers and kids in classrooms. Now, is their timing perfect? Do they make every change that is suggested? The answer to both is, of course, "No." But I think it is undeniable that Google does make a conscious effort. 

  • Now, to be clear: I work in a Google for Education/GSuite school district. Do other product/service vendors, etc., have someone read & respond to user feedback as well? Perhaps. I really don't know. This is not intended to slight others - This is simply a response to a question I received specific to Google tools. 
An unfortunate consequence to such a service is the appearance that things change "all the time." Google - and most software/hardware vendors for that matter - update products on a regular schedule. They have to in order to stay relevant. If they don't, the product gets stale and "dies," and old, outdated products are just not good for business.

Innovate or die.

Teachers are really busy, but they understand the importance of remaining as up-to-date as possible on things related to their classroom pedagogy and content area(-s). It's hard just keeping up with current events related to their subject matter, much less with technology trends. So, often they prioritize their time by keeping up on the latest classroom management trends or advances in their content area instead. In other words, they tend to err on the side of keeping up with the kids' behaviors and questions, while gadgets and interwebs take a back seat.

So, how can we keep up? 

I am happy to share with you how I keep up. Maybe some of these ideas will work for you. Maybe you have better ideas than mine. Please feel free to share!

I have turned into a total Google-icious fanboy over the past couple of years. I do love many of Google's own resources, like
I also gather info in lots of other ways...
Full Disclosure: It also helps that I don't have kids in my house, and that I don't have papers to grade anymore, at least not in the traditional sense. But does that mean YOU can't stay in-the-know? Of course not! I didn't start all of these things overnight. This partial listing is a compilation of adding one little thing here and there over my 10 years in my current position, and approaching 25 years in education overall. Like integrating technology into your classroom, maybe you can just start slowly by modifying a single thing you are already doing:
  • Maybe your commute is shorter than mine, but you spend 45 minutes a day at the gym. (Bless you - You're amazing!) Before cranking up your workout playlist in your headphones, maybe you'll get #superexcited during your workout by listening to the Google Teacher Tribe this week. 
  • Postpone streaming one episode during your next binge-fest for a quick EDU in 90 fix. 
  • If Twitter moves too fast for you, try one weekly email from Practical Ed Tech
It isn't hard to keep up with Google updates - it's just developing a new habit. If I can do it, you can, too!

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