Exploring G Suite for Education in primary schools

    Published: 27 April 2017

    G Suite for Education, along with the potential benefits of Chromebooks for primary schools, was first brought to the attention of Dan Cumberland, ICT Coordinator at Peartree Primary School, Stevenage, last year by the ICT services team at HfL. Although predominately used by secondary schools, Dan noticed how G Suite for Education has a lot of potential in a primary school and how it could advance the technology at the school. Since then, it has been a roaring success.

    G Suite for Education is a combination of online software tools, including Google Drive (for sharing individual files, with unlimited Cloud storage), Google Classroom (a virtual learning environment), and Google Docs, Sheets and Slides (an alternative to Microsoft office).

    We really wanted to solve a few issues that the school was having with technology,” explained Dan. “The iPads are a fantastic bit of kit but can be limited with the functions they have, especially when it comes to office software such as Word. Also laptops can take time to set up and servers are sluggish. So I had a look at G Suite as another option.”

    Dan began to research a bit more into G Suite for Education and took part in training to become a certified Google educator, to understand whether this is something they could pursue. After discussion with staff members and the headteacher, the school worked with the ICT services team at HfL to have the Google solution installed along with 32 new Chromebooks. The team then provided the ongoing technical support for the Google solution.

    I think the biggest thing I wanted to get across when speaking to my staff was that collaborative learning. Pupils really enjoy being able to work on a document together, and the Chromebooks provide a great platform to do that and share with their teacher.”

    It also benefits staff too as they can easily monitor work to see who has done what, who has contributed the most and look at pupils’ work as they are doing it. It is pretty much a virtual-learning wall.”

    It has taken a bit of getting used to and training was needed. Things can go wrong at times, especially as pupils get to grips with the technology, but I told staff to just persevere with it because in the long term the Chromebooks will make a difference.”

    Chromebooks are devices similar to normal laptops, except that they run the Chrome operating system, and access programs and files from the cloud. This means they are fast to start up, they have a long battery life and they can be managed from a central, online portal. Pupils can log into any Chromebook, using their own G Suite for Education accounts, to access their own work and the suite of tools available to them.

    Obviously, there are lot of eSafety issues we have had to sort out prior to using the Chromebooks. There are obviously barriers and things we should consider with any piece of technology, but that should not stop us from using them or trying out new equipment,” Dan added.

    The ICT Services team at HfL have been paramount in providing key support and guidance to us in our journey starting with a demo of the Google system, installation, guidance in picking the correct device and then the ongoing support.”

    The biggest issue the school now has with Chromebooks is that they are constantly being booked out. The school is already speaking to the team at Herts for Learning to purchase another 64 Chromebooks.”

    To find out more about the features of G Suite with Chromebooks and how this solution can work for your school, please contact Shahid Sahil: shahid.sahil@hertsforlearning.co.uk

    Alternatively visit HfL’s blog post, written by HfL’s Computing and eDevelopments Adviser, Chris Carter:

    By Ryan Fisher, Journalist

    We welcome your thoughts and comments via Twitter using @HertsLearning

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