Educational technology tips for teachers, librarians and schools.

6 Top Rated Google Apps for Education (Plus four coding apps!)

6 Top Rated Google Apps for Education (Plus four coding apps!)

By Gabriel Michaelson

Education has an ally in the tech world: Google. Classrooms can enjoy the powerful suite of Google’s free productivity tools, for education use, as part of a collaborative effort between schools and the tech giant.

The applications furnished by Google include a core suite of communication and collaboration apps that work across platforms, making education more mobile and accessible than ever before. If you’ve never used GAFE, here’s what you need to know.

What is GAFE?

Applications available as part of the Google educational suite include Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sites and Drive. Google Apps for Education (GAFE) accounts give schools additional tools for collaboration. The entire GAFE suite resides online, in the Cloud, google apps for education_top ratedso users can access productivity and sharing tools from any web browser on computers, tablets, smartphones, and similar devices that have Internet connectivity.

Google’s GAFE suite includes apps rated highly by the tech community and includes other tools that enhance the learning experience. For example, Digication, an ePortfolio tool, enables students to share their work via the Internet with friends, classmates, teachers and prospective employers.

Thanks to GAFE, students have ad-free access to some of the most powerful tools available to them, including the most popular Google apps—spreadsheets, papers, and presentations—that are Microsoft Office compatible.

Students can collaborate using chat and hangouts, communicate using social networking tools, and publish their work using Blogger, YouTube, Google Groups, and Google Plus.

Other tools useful for education and accessible through the GAFE suite include Flickr, Vimeo, and TeacherTube. Using the Google Suite, students can decide for themselves how they want others to access their e-Portfolios.

If you’re new to GAFE, this may seem like a lot. So, we’re sharing the top rated apps for you to start with. Empower yourself and your students with these tools.

1. EasyBib

More than 20 million students already use the EasyBib, a bibliographic management tool, which has reportedly become the most popular bibliography tool available to high school and college students. Easy Bib offers several powerful benefits:

  • Instantly create citations for references to books, websites, journals, magazines, and other resources.
  • Easy style choices, including MLA, APA, and Chicago styles.
  • Accessed using a centralized Google Apps login.

2. Doctopus

This teacher-created tool is used for scaffolding, organizing, and managing and evaluating student projects. With this tool, teachers can provide students with templates that act as a standard starting point for projects.

Teachers can use the mass-copy function of Doctopus to distribute these files to students. After they receive the assignment, teachers can share and monitor student progress while quickly providing feedback. When new handouts and other course-related documents become available, Doctopus delivers them to student rosters.

Doctopus gives teachers full control over project templates, configurations, organizations, and file-naming conventions, so all students will have a uniform format that creates a common experience.

The app also facilitates student collaboration and scales to give teachers a broad range of options for workflow, assignments, and projects. In summary, Doctopus provides a rich educational environment that encourages and motivates student learning.

3. Haiku Learning

Tools available via Haiku Learning include grade books, wikis, content sharing and a browser annotator, all of which make designing and managing online classrooms comfortable and efficient.

Through Haiku, teachers can assign collaboration activities, assess student performance, and record grades. Reporting features built into Haiku help teachers evaluate the overall direction of their class.

Best of all, Haiku integrates seamlessly with GAFE, so neither students nor teachers need to worry about learning a new interface.

4. Engrade Pro

Engrade Pro provides a user-friendly interface where teachers can enter student grades and evaluations. Parents can use the app to monitor their student’s performance, and students can use the app to assess their academic standing.

Because this application resides in the cloud, everyone involved in the educational process can log in 24/7 to provide updates or check statuses. It’s a win-win for everyone involved:

  • Parents like Engrade Pro because it includes attendance statistics and displays homework assignments, allowing the entire family to participate in a student’s education.
  • Students enjoy learning with Engrade Pro, because it gives them an easy way to submit homework and other assignments.
  • Teachers like the application because it reduces paperwork and provides a powerful platform where they can interact with students and parents.

The Engrade Pro environment can extend the classroom, giving teachers the opportunity to publish online quizzes for students to complete in class or at home. When students complete online tests, grades go directly into the teacher’s grade book, so parents, students and teachers have student performance information available to them in real time.

5. Super Quiz

Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 9.45.21 AM

When teachers create quizzes with Google Forms, they need a simple way to add functionality and assessment features: Super Quiz does that. When the teacher creates an answer key, Super Quiz automatically scores student answers as correct or incorrect.

The app also provides an analysis of class performance and a report based on the questions students answer incorrectly. The application can also provide personalized, differentiated feedback to students as soon as they submit their test.

Teachers who split their online quizzes into topics can also configure Super Quiz to provide topic-based feedback to students to guide their future studies.

6. Pear Deck

Interactive presentations and formative assessments characterize Pear Deck, a GAFE app that integrates with Google Drive and Google Classroom. With Pear Deck, teachers can give live, interactive presentations, directly from Drive to a classroom projector.

When the presentation is created, students are given a join code that allows them to log on and interact with the content. The teacher controls the flow of the presentation and students answer questions and discuss the content from their own device. This takes presentations from passive to active, promoting a more engaging learning environment.

Honorable Mentions

While the GAFE project does not include all of these open source projects, they deserve to be mentioned, as they help children learn the basics of programming. As the initiative to integrate computer science and coding education into classrooms rises, these apps offer an invaluable source of activities aimed towards engaging new coders.

7. Blockly Games

Children new to computer programming might not know where to begin. Blockly Games make programming fun and teach students the basics of applying computers to particular goals.

The Blockly Games app does not require much typing, so very young children can get a head start in their learning. After completing all the games included in this app, children should have a programming foundation good enough to begin learning standard text-based programming languages.

8. Pencil Code Gym

Google supports Pencil Code Gym, an open-source application that teaches programming by enabling children to code their own art, music or fiction.

Children also have the ability to experiment with mathematical functions, geometry, graphing, webpages, simulations, and algorithms. They can also explore and learn Javascript, HTML, and CSS.

9. Made with Code

Made with Code is a Google initiative created to encourage girls to pursue a career in Computer Science by showing them that many things they love are made with code. It provides online programming activities that enable girls to use the skills they learn and apply them to their own passions.

10. MIT App Inventor

Students in middle school or higher grades can use MIT App Inventor to learn how to create applications that run on the Android mobile operating system. This is a cloud-based tool that lets children build apps in their own web browser. It provides all the support they need as they to learn to build apps through project-based learning.

As one of the world’s most incredible success stories, Google has become a dominant technological force. Fortunately, Google knows that the future depends on well-educated students who can work comfortably in an online environment.

Google Apps for Education give schools and teachers free, high-quality tools to make learning easy and fun.

What GAFE tools do you use in your classroom? Tell us in the comments!

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