Into the GAFE

Google-Apps-vs.-Office-365-change-1024x372 One of my summer goals was to become fluent in GAFE, which, as I learned, is pronounced with a long “a” sound.  (Thus it is less of a gaffe…)  I stumbled onto some board training and managed to get one of the last spots in an all day GAFE workshop.  GAFE information is also freely available online; I started going through “GAFE” courses earlier in the summer, but got sidetracked.   My plan is still to become Level 1 GAFE certified before school starts.

One of my first challenges occurred when I set up my Google Classroom site; I needed my IT support to enable some features for me.  The site is easy enough to figure out; however, but it took some playing around before I could figure out how to add adult ESL learners.


So my guiding question was – will accessing Google Apps effectively be able to replace my Moodle site?  Moodle offers everything in one place, but students don’t have access once the course has finished.   Also, I know my Moodle site well; I’m comfortable with the design and layout, but the students often complain about getting lost in the site.  With Google Apps, the learners keep all of their tasks, sites, etc. All files/folders can be shared with the instructor, and copied for records.   And is this fundamentally better than, say, Edmodo?

Now, as you know, I tried using OneNote with my learners last year.  Personally, I love my OneNote, but it was problematic for the students.  I still plan to use OneNote but won’t lead my students down that path again this year, even though it brilliantly displayed e-portfolios.

Google Sites can be set up in much the same manner; I’ve been playing with the creation of a skeleton file for the past few weeks.  I’ve finally got a good Google Sites outline complete, and have uploaded the template so the learners can download it.  I had a brief look at Svetlana Lupasco’s Google site template a few months ago, and also came across Bonnie Jean Nicholas’ PBLA template in the world-wide gallery.

I added a Needs Assessment Google form, embedded the Language Companion and added two Calendar pages (one for Class news, one for Student).  So far, I’m happy with how it looks.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 9.14.55 PM

So, because my Google Classroom site will suit my, and my learners’ needs, I doubt I will open up an Edmodo LMS; that would be more tech than necessary.  After all, it’s not about the tech, right?  It’s what the students can do with it, how the tech can help drive their learning forward.

Thus, for the first time in about 5 years, I’m stepping outside of my Moodle comfort zone, and into the GAFE.


About jenniferartan

ESL instructor in London. Level 2 Google Certified Educator. Blended Learning. Learning Management Systems. TESL Ontario Webinar Manager. Edutech Conference Junkie. Smartboards. Reluctant Techie.
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2 Responses to Into the GAFE

  1. I just set up Google Classroom with my first LINC class, and I really like how user-friendly it is. Can students continue to access “their” classroom after they finish the class, do you know?

    I notice that you used OneNote for a lot of your information and then lost a lot of it. I’ve used Evernote for quite some time and find that whatever I put there stays there, which is awesome. It gets pretty cumbersome with all these “cloud” programs, since I have some docs in iCloud, some in OneDrive, and some in Google Drive, as well as the Evernote files. Also a few in Adobe!

    Anything that’s searchable on a computer is much easier to access than any paper, but at some point I may have to pick and choose a bit more!

    • I’m always looking for something that will be easy to use, and access. The students I’m working with create their own e-portfolios based on everything we’ve been doing in class, plus they store all of their PBLA tracking and uploads. They will “own” this when the course is done, as far as I know.

      I still use OneNote – I bought the extra space because I still like how it organizes me, and I like the draw function. I wish I could use it with my group, but it’s just not possible. The space they would get from a free account is just too limited.

      GAFE is a fantastic suite. I did some tech pre-tests at the outset of my course (in September). One student who had done poorly in the beginning, has just this week, invited me to edit her personal e-portfolio’s “smart goals” page, she created a Google doc for a homework assignment, shared it with me, and then shared it with her group, etc. She doesn’t even realize how much tech she is using; she’s just completing her tasks. The tech is secondary, and I love that.

      I think I shared my e-portfolio in the general google sites; do a search for PBLA and you should see at least two different portfolio layouts. One is mine and one is Bonnie Jean Nicholas.

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