Welsh schools are going Google

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Posted by Liz Sproat, Head of Education, EMEA

Around the world, schools are finding innovative ways to use technology to break down the traditional walls of the classroom, while overcoming the challenges of higher academic standards and tighter budgets. Today, we’re pleased to share the stories from two schools in Wales who’ve gone Google to help them meet the demands of a modern-day education system.

Gowerton School in Gowerton Village serves 1,135 students aged 11 to 18. The IT team migrated students and educators from on-premise email to Gmail and Google Apps. Industry experts recognize them as one of the first schools in Britain to embrace cloud technologies.

The school’s entire curriculum – from geography to cooking – is taught with Google Apps. Students can access assignments, lesson plans and other learning resources through Google Drive, while teachers can provide immediate feedback through Google Docs. This has brought about significant teaching and learning benefits including greater collaboration and more tailored feedback.

Additionally, the move to Google allowed the school to re-invest cost savings from using cloud-based technologies. Gowerton saved £30,000 (US$50,000) in licensing and server maintenance, allowing them to buy numerous Chromebooks. Chromebooks are ideal for Gowerton because they’re easy to maintain and can be used by anyone without much training.

“We’re very keen to deploy more Chromebooks. Students love them because they are intuitive to use and give them instant access to Google Apps,” said Darren Long, Teacher of ICT and ICT Coordinator at Gowerton. “They’re also great from an administration point of view. We experimented with laptops for a while but found they were too expensive and high-maintenance. With Chromebooks, we don’t need to worry about maintenance, updates are automatic, and they are good value.”

Students at Gowerton School using Chromebooks

Coleg Cambria in North East Wales has also gone Google. Coleg Cambria is one of the largest colleges in the United Kingdom, serving more than 7,000 full-time and 30,000 part-time students. Previously, students used Microsoft Live@edu accounts  but as the college expanded, the IT team struggled to support all the new accounts from a time and cost perspective. The problem was solved when the IT department moved everyone to Google Apps and installed Chromebooks around campus. Thanks to the remote, web-based management console, Coleg Cambria found Chromebooks easy to deploy to a large, growing body of students. Furthermore, the IT team no longer had to spend time going to each computer to install an update, since Google pushes these automatically.

With Google Apps, students and teachers are more proactive when it comes to learning and teaching. Teachers find apps from the Chrome App Store and incorporate them in lesson plans. Assignments and resources are saved to students’ Google Drive accounts. As a result, students can simply log into their Google accounts to access their own virtual “classroom.”

“The freedom for students and tutors to find and work with interesting applications — anything from anatomy to mind-mapping — has changed the way they think about learning and teaching,” said Mark Brandish, Head of IT Services at Coleg Cambria. “Traditionally students and teachers have just taken what we’ve provided. Now we’re a facilitator, giving them access to tools that allow them to be more innovative.”

Students from Coleg Cambria using Chromebooks outside the classroom

You can read more stories of how passionate educators and talented students are using Google for Education in their learning environments. We’re excited to hear such stories of how technology helps prepare today’s youth for a better future.

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