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Monday, April 13, 2015

The Day Google Classroom Went Down

On April 2, 2015, Google Classroom "went down".

Students were the first to notice of course, and, as teachers started trouble-shooting, the tension started to rise in the Middle School building. Soon, we realized we had a total catastrophe! Panic ensued. How would we access the shared resources and turn in student work? What is our back-up plan? As the tech integration person, I could hear the echo of this outage coming back to haunt me for years to come: "Remember the day that Google Classroom went down? That's why I don't use technology!"

Quickly I raced to open the link to check the Apps Status Dashboard......but there was nothing there. I called our tech support team....but they knew of no issues either. So, I screamed into social media, "Help! Google Classroom is down! Anyone else out there having issues?"

In the end, the glitch in Google Classroom was really just a "service disruption", but, ultimately, it proved to be a learning experience for everyone involved.

Teachers found that Google is extremely reliable. We were soon up and running within minutes....not hours, not days.

Students and teachers found that they could still work on their products and share information the "old-fashioned way" since Google Drive was just fine. Who would have thought that using Google Drive would be considered the "old way"? This is how far we have come and how quickly Google Classroom has been embraced by teachers as an effective conduit for learning.

We discovered which teachers were really integrating technology at the highest levels. After several years of talking about SAMR and speculating about "substitution"versus "modification" or "redefinition", the level of student engagement through technology became readily apparent within seconds after the disruption. After assessing our access to Drive and other web tools, teachers and students regrouped and moved on, but there was the sudden realization that not one teacher using Google Classroom had a plan that translated to paperwork. Our teaching and learning were technology dependent.

I found that connections in Google+ communities and Twitter are invaluable. While it took the Apps Status Dashboard a little while to show the disruption, social media was awash with an affirmation to the "crisis" within seconds of my posts. Sympathetic voices answered back, mirroring my own concerns. Yes, it was down for everyone. Not just us. And misery loves company!

The most valuable lesson for me, however, came from the paradigm shift that seemed almost palpable. When Classroom was smoothly working again, there were sighs of relief and whispers of "thank goodness" as teachers went back to their business and students back to their learning. Through the years, I had grown accustomed to technology naysayers quipping their "Why I Don't Use Technology" litany. This time, not one word! Technology integration had indeed arrived at Eustace Middle School !

Yes, I know there are still teachers lurking behind lecterns, preaching from Power Points, and commanding the copying of volumes of notes. There will always be those who will make an excuse not to try, not to learn, not to change, not to grow. Their voices and reasoning, however, are fading into the background. We are moving forward.

Yes, Google Classroom went "down" on April 2, 2015, but, in that moment, as brief as it may have been, I learned a great deal!

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