We integrated Google Apps in mid-2009, amid some skepticism of how this would fit into our Literacy program.  The benefits were immediate and palpable.  Not only did we now have a unified email handle, we now had communication and collaboration at our fingertips.  It wasn’t long before Google became a normal part of our program.

Now, to give you a bit of background on our program, Sioux-Hudson Literacy Council runs 4 programs: the Literacy and Basic Skills program, the Sioux Lookout and Hudson Learning Centres, and our online program, Good Learning Anywhere.  We have many unique and, I think, wonderful opportunities for adult learners, both locally and province-wide.
While I work with the Good Learning Anywhere program, instructing and developing learning materials for our learners across Ontario, I am lucky enough to also live in Hudson, which allows me to connect with the people and communities of northern Ontario.
So, now that you know a bit about our program and me, you’re probably wondering, so what’s this Google+ thing, and how do the hearing impaired mix into this.
If you haven’t heard of Google+, here’s a cute video to introduce you to Google’s new venture.


Though we haven’t quite made the leap as an organization, our learners are apparently at the head of the trend!
Well, just this past week, I was meeting with Jonathan Baum, our fearless program coordinator.  We were talking about apps for literacy and how we can best introduce  those to our learners.  He started telling me about a group of learners that have been attending our centre for years, who are hearing impaired.  To accommodate their needs, we installed oovoo, a great video conferencing tool.
The learners used this tool to sign to people across the world.  The only hitch was that this wasn’t a free service.  As anyone who works in literacy knows, money doesn’t grow on trees.  But, Jonathan felt this was an important tool to have available for our learners.

Now, with the arrival of video chat in Google +, our learners have ditched oovoo, and have adopted Google + as their main communication tool.  Without paying a dime, these learners can sign with multiple people in different parts of the world.  What an awesome gift to our program and to our learners.

So, Google, thank you.  Keep on innovating and sharing!