Category: Professional Development



5th of 5: Leadership and Google Apps in Your District

Google EDU Globe At the NJ Google Apps for Education Summit this month, we had the opportunity to briefly present and discuss the role and impact of Google Apps in K-12 Education with administrators and leaders from several districts.  This post is the  5th of 5 on Leadership and Google Apps in Your District.

Google Apps is (also) for Business

Not surprisingly, schools looking at Google Apps for Education, Chromebooks, and Tablets with Play for Education focus intently on classroom computing.  In doing so, however, schools and districts often overlook that Google Apps works well for business … for administrative computing.  Some districts even elect to keep a separate email server for administrators while using Google Apps in the classroom. By size and scope, many school districts are comparable to the small and mid-size businesses we serve.  They also have many of the same needs, such as budgeting, human resources, team projects, and resource scheduling, just to name a few.

By adopting Google Apps as a business tool, district and school administrators can improve efficiency and effectiveness.  Here a just a few ideas of how administrators can use Google Apps:

  • Collaborative budget process with automatic roll-up from departments and/or facilities
  • File storage and sharing across departments and buildings
  • Individual, team, and project calendars
  • Intranet for HR with policies, procedures, and forms
  • Resource calendars to schedule use of conference rooms, speciality rooms, AV equipment, fields, vehicles, etc.
  • Public calendars for school and student events
  • Public web site with distributed content management
  • Video meetings, with screen/document, sharing for teams that span buildings or campuses
  • Survey and feedback forms
  • Interactive Wiki’s for proposing and obtaining feedback on curriculum changes
  • Accept and manage maintenance and facilities requests by email and/or web page, with shared inbox and dispatch for handling requests
  • Lesson planning library and collaborative, cross-team, lesson planning

While certainly not a comprehensive list, using Google Apps administratively offers many means to work more efficiently.  And, by adopting Google Apps for administrative computing, districts can further reduce their dependence and spending on servers, desktops, and other hardware.

 

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4th of 5: Leadership and Google Apps in Your District

Google EDU Globe
At the NJ Google Apps for Education Summit this month, we had the opportunity to briefly present and discuss the role and impact of Google Apps in K-12 Education with administrators and leaders from several districts.  This post is the  4th of 5 on Leadership and Google Apps in Your District.

Build Skills with Expectations and Milestones

Within any organization, some people enjoy change … pushing the envelope and are comfortable with technology. Some are comfortable with change and/or technology if others show them the way. Some are uncomfortable with change and/or technology, or lack the confidence to adapt and move forward.  These differences are common, natural, and expected human behavior.

In an educational setting, however, these personal differences can lead to radically different educational experiences and opportunities for students.

Working with hundreds of schools and districts across North America, we often see how professional development covering Google Apps, Chrome devices, tablets, and the myriad of apps and content available within the ecosystem are readily pursued and absorbed by those most comfortable with technology, change, and emerging methods for facilitating learning.  And, while it is exciting to see the enthusiasm and creativity, it is also clear that the many educators will “wait, see, and follow”, and others will simply avoid the opportunity.

If schools want the technology, flexible online content, apps, resources, games, and teaching methods to have a meaningful impact, they must be put to use across the system and not just within select classrooms.

The ability to use devices, apps, content, and related methods in the classroom must become a core skill on par subject matter knowledge and other key teaching and facilitation skills. 

Without these skills, disparities will increase and technology programs — particularly 1:1 programs — will fail to obtain their educational objectives.  To avoid these pitfalls, we recommend that faculty and administrators work cooperatively to:

  • Define a baseline skill set for teachers covering in-class technology use and integration, along with time frames by which all staff should be at these skill levels.
  • Create a program for obtaining baseline skill sets with methods to match faculty member’s learning style (classroom/workshop, self-paced, etc.).
  • Identify, secure, and commit funding and time to enable completion of the program.
  • Create a process for experimentation, measuring results, and and identifying best practices.
  • Create a means to share best-practices and to provide cross-training among faculty and staff. Include a process to encourage or require adoption of best practices across the school by grade level and/or subject.
  • Provide teachers with budgets for purchasing or renting tools, apps, and/or content in line with curricula standards and lesson plans.
  • Define professional development standards and expectations that relate specifically to use of technology, apps, content, and related methods in the classroom, along with time frames by which all staff should be integrating these capabilities in their lesson plans, curricula, and classroom activities.
  • As with basic skills training, create a professional development program that provides the time, money, and other resources necessary for faculty and staff to succeed.
  • Actively track best practices and emerging standards related to technology in the classroom.  Evaluate, experiment, and adopt as appropriate.

Adding skills related to technology and related content and methods to expectations for teacher qualifications and performance is no easy task.  For many districts, this effort may become a contractual issue as well as a professional development program.  Regardless, of the effort, ensuring that all teachers have the skills, resources, and confidence to leverage the new generation of technology-enabled resources is critical to successful educational outcomes.

If you are interested in a professional development assessment covering Google Apps, Chromebooks, and/or Play for Education tablets, please contact us.

 

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3rd of 5: Leadership and Google Apps in Your District

Google EDU Globe
At the NJ Google Apps for Education Summit this month, we had the opportunity to briefly present and discuss the role and impact of Google Apps in K-12 Education with administrators and leaders from several districts.  This post is the  3rd of 5 on Leadership and Google Apps in Your District.

Learn, Plan, Execute, Review, Repeat

As noted in the first post in this series, your Google Apps deployment gets you to the starting line.  The race, however, is a marathon and not a sprint.  Schools often set lofty goals and objectives with the intent of doing as much as possible as soon as possible.  While aggressive plans are fine, districts need to avoid overwhelming staff with initiatives that require new skills, tools, and methods.  While training and professional development is critical, rushing to pull it together to meet arbitrary deadlines creates stress and makes integration of Google Apps, devices, apps, and content more difficult.

Educators must be confident in their own ability to use and manage the technology and methods before they stand in front of their classes.  Allow teachers and staff to learn, incrementally, and to apply what they’ve learned before moving forward.

Some of the elements of a successful professional development program include:

  • Clear long-term goals and near-term objectives
  • Established tracks based on roles: administrator, teacher-centric, student-centric, etc.
  • Sufficient training on basic use of Google Apps — what it can do and the clicks you need to do it.
  • Use-case centric education on applying the features of Google Apps to classroom use.  Using suggested edits and comments to facilitate paperless homework and collaborative lesson planning are two examples.
  • Allow educators time to plan and use what they have learned before moving forward.  Holding a half day workshop every 3 months can be more effective than two full days of training in August.
  • Help faculty integrate the use of technology and the Google Apps ecosystem into lesson plans.
  • Provide a means for faculty to practice in front of peers, with feedback, before using new technology in front of students.

When it comes to integrating Google Apps, Chrome devices, tablets, and other technologies into the learning process, professional development must be more than a set of classes for continuing ed credits.  A sound curriculum and plan, that helps faculty and staff advance their capabilities of time, is a key to success.

If you are interested in a professional development assessment covering Google Apps, Chromebooks, and/or Play for Education tablets, please contact us.

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