GEUG14: Google Apps for Education European User Group

Last week I was presenting at the Google Apps for Education European User Group (GEUG) at the University of York. It was the third time this event has been run and as in previous years was an excellent opportunity for Google Apps for Education users to come together and share some of their experiences. The event is interesting because it attracts both IT staff as well as educators. In fact this year IT related staff outnumbered academic. There was still a strong presence for educators in the programme and here is a summary of some of the the sessions.

Living in the Cloud: A year with GAFE & Chrome OS, Mathew Collins -University of York

The event opened with a great presentation from Matthew Collins highlighting how he uses Google Apps in both teaching and research. There were a number of aspects of Matthew’s presentation I found useful from his use of Google Drive and Sheets to orchestrate large scale research management and data collection across 46 partners to the use of Google+ Communities to support research seminars.

A Google Drive application Matthew highlighted of interest to researchers is Paperpile. This is a reference management application which lets you store papers and articles in your Google Drive. This application is clever because it uses the existing functionality of Drive, in particular, indexing pdf documents even if they are imaged based (this is a feature I’ve been a longer support of in other tools like Evernote). It also integrates with Google Documents providing some very useful citation features.

View video of Living in the Cloud

Going Google Nexus 1to1, Simon Thompson – Leeds Metropolitan University

Simon gave an overview of a pilot at Leeds Met University which distributed Google Nexus 7 tablets to students. There has been some recent criticism of these types of schemes and the value to learning. This in part focuses around there limited functionality primarily as a device for consumption rather than production. I think this argument is far from clear cut as it ignores the ability for real time interaction, through voting or other ‘lite’ interaction (e.g. tweeting), as well as real time research and discovery. This aside Simon raised a number of important points:

  • cost – at £199 retail providing a device to each student is potentially equivalent to 0.737037% of a £24,000 fee
  • equality – it’s a leveller, have and have not’s is removed
  • support – having a single device makes it easier to support as staff and students become familiar with a single device.

View video of Google Nexus 1to1

Connected Learning with Google Communities, Paul Carey – Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College

Educational uses of Google+ Communities was something I was acutely aware of but hadn’t the level of interest and use already happening. The main benefit appears to be as an awareness mechanism, a number of staff using these as notification tools. Paul highlighted a range of examples in his presentation.

View video of Connected Learning with Google Communities

Google {Learning} Analytics and Customising Google Apps with Apps Script, Martin Hawksey – ALT

I managed to maintain my record of presenting at every GEUG event with two sessions. Both these walked the perilous line between educational and technical separately exploring the use of Google Analytics to support Learning Analytics and the use of Google Apps Script to customise Google Apps. I’ve written more about these, including links to slides and recordings, on my personal blog:


I sadly missed the second day of the event but had I been able to attend I wouldn’t have been able to tell you much as it was for existing Google Apps customers and held enforced by NDA (non-discourse agreement). The organisers should be congratulate for hosting a very stimulating event in a wonderful setting and I’m already looing forward to the next GEUG event.

Martin Hawksey
Chief Innovation, Community and Technology Officer, ALT

If you enjoyed reading this article we invite you to join the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) as an individual member, and to encourage your own organisation to join ALT as an organisational or sponsoring member

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