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Wednesday / September 20

3 Ways to Use the Cloud in Your Classroom

“It’s up in the Cloud” is a common refrain we hear in our lives today. From our emails, to our photos, and don’t forget our documents – much of our teaching world now lives online. Let’s take a quick look at three ways you can get most out of the Cloud…

  1. Storing in the Cloud

The idea of storing your data on a remote server isn’t new. For years teachers have been able to store their files on local networks and servers. However, the concept of storing your files in the Internet is one that many saw as a game changer in the past decade. The Cloud has given teachers and students access to files beyond the walls of the school – also giving them more time to work and better access to learn.

There are many tools you can use to store files in the Cloud (OneDrive, Box, Dropbox), but the one most teachers use is Google Drive. Google Drive is a great free tool for file storage because teachers and students have unlimited storage if using a Google Apps for Education account.

Google Drive can upload and convert your Microsoft Office files, so you won’t need to recreate your existing projects. Beyond the online storage, Google Drive also lets users share files easily with one another. This makes collaboration a snap and gives all of your students a great way to work in groups.

A new feature in Google Drive is the Add-ons menu. Using Add-ons can greatly expand the ability of Google Drive as these extensions provide new options for Google Docs, Sheets, Forms, and more. You’ll find that Google Drive is constantly adding new choices to improve it’s effectiveness as the online source for projects.

2. Creating in the Cloud

Creating in the cloud offers students and educators so many more possibilities than the traditional format of content creation. Lessons no longer have to be confined to a single notebook and projects can be completed from anywhere in the world. Projects are automatically stored online, and sharing your work with others is quick and easy.

One of our favorite tools for creating online is Animoto. This is an amazing tool that allows teachers and students to create incredible movies using images and video clips.  Even better – teachers can get a pro account for FREE!  Just sign up as a teacher here and you’ll be able to create 10 minute long videos.

Animoto allows you access to many of your online photos, as it can connect with Facebook, FlickR, Google, and more. Plus they have a huge gallery of Creative Commons clips that you can readily use in your project. With a great selection of music available for your movie – kids will love using this tool!

3. Collaborating in the Cloud

Students want to work with their classmates to explore content and create projects. The cloud has provided students the opportunity to work with their classmates regardless of location. Now they can work on projects at anytime. Even the constraint of collaborating across time zones is less a burden than ever before. Students can jump in and out of shared documents whenever they have a free moment.

A great free tool for collaborating in the Cloud is Padlet. This tool is an online message board that provides teachers and students a great way to brainstorm with one another. Padlet provides ready access to your class, without needing to have students create another online account. Simply share the URL for your board and you’re ready to go.

With the ability to add multimedia content to your padlet board, you’ll find student will creatively insert a variety of videos, images, and more. A huge benefit to class discussions using Padlet is the ability to involve the entire group in the conversation. Padlet gives everyone a voice and provides a great online community for your students.

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Written by

Jared Covili is a professional development trainer at the Utah Education Network in Salt Lake City, UT. Jared specializes in teaching strategies for classroom integration of technology such as web page design, geospatial learning, web 2.0 tools, and digital devices. Jared received his Bachelors degree in English and his Masters degree in Instructional Design and Educational Technology from the University of Utah. His background includes four years as a secondary Language Arts teacher. Besides his work at UEN, Jared is also adjunct faculty for the College of Education at the University of Utah, where he teaches technology integration classes to undergraduate students.

Jared is the author of two Corwin books: Classroom in the Cloud and Going Google.

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