Starting this year many schools went down the pathway of setting up Google Apps as a replacement for SINA mail and My Classes. Your Admin account is setup and no doubt you have a few teacher accounts in there who have logged on once of twice as a result of doing a staff PD a few months back. Now you’re sitting there thinking “OK, now what?”
If you want your staff to really utilise a new technology you need to make it a necessity for them to use it. Finding ways to implement it into their daily routine is the key. I have said it in previous posts, people are creatures of habit. They find a routine and while they may steer away from it every now and then they will still snap back into the routine like an elastic band that is being stretched.
I have seen many schools do great things with google apps, ranging from setting up a information board or “day book” in the staff room through a LCD panel or projector to a school moving their Tshare into Google Drive so that staff can access their documents from home with ease.
I am now going to go through some ideas that schools have implemented in a little more detail. My advice is to adopt one of these ideas into your school and implement it into the teachers daily routine. I can assure you that staff WILL find it difficult for the first time, but like tying a shoe lace, it will become second nature to them. Soon they will be doing it without even realising what they are doing. As a result you will have helped them increase their productivity through technology.
Staff Portal Page
The first and possibly best step would be to implement a staff portal page if you have not already done so. I can’t stress enough the importance of having this page as it will tie in all the following items I talk about in this article. A staff member needs a site were they can quickly and easily click on an item and be taken directly there. If they need to browse through different menu structures and try to guess were things are, it becomes to hard for them and they will stop trying, and once they stop trying its very hard to get their interest back into it. My rule is, anything you need should be no more than two clicks away. If your breaking this rule and your wondering why no one is using the staff portal page then this could be the reason. Another VERY important point to make it to set this page the default page when opening up ANY browser. Now days I find staff using a whole different range of browsers, I even met one teacher who was using four different browsers because she thought that’s how its suppose to work. At a click of a button the staff should be able to see their portal page clear as day with the items they need.
Digital Day Books
I’m sure everyone has heard of “The Day Book”. Every school has one, however they may call it something different. The Day Book contains the daily activities and functions inside the school. Some schools have this day book as a written book in the staff room which all staff members view, other schools have a Word document stored on the Tshare which everyone modifies and then views and some schools have a procedure where all staff are to email the admin with items they want everyone to know about, it’s then the admins job to compile them into a document and email it out. If currently your staff already have the ability to add notes to a digital notices board then this section probably isn’t for you. If not, then I suggest you look into setting up a digital notice board using google sites!
This will allow your teachers to post their daily items onto a notice board without having it second handled by an admin member or teacher – at a click of a button its up! To really get this idea off the ground it is wise to display this digital board in your staff room using a projector or LCD screen. As staff members post items into your new daily work book it will display in the staff room as well as anyone else viewing the daily work book from their device. My second bit of advice is to put a link to this daily work book on the staff portal page. Staff need to be able to access this site within two clicks of a mouse, if its any harder than that, they wont adapt to it easily!
If your game enough to venture out into cloud storage than get your staff onto Google Drive. The best and easiest way to utilise Google Drive is to use it via the Google Drive application which installs on your computer. Using the web interface “drive.google.com” should really only be used when administering permissions, moving large files around or accessing your documents when you are on a computer which normally isn’t yours. Have all your staff install the application and then get them to bring their devices to a staff meeting to get them to login for the first time. The reason why you want to have all the staff together is for two reasons.
- I can guarantee that some staff will try to login with the wrong email address, a friendly neighbour in the staff meeting can help them on the right path and in turn reduce the probability of you having a headache at the end of the exercise.
- Demonstrate with the staff the power of sharing folder and files with another staff member and get them familiar with where the documents are saving when they are synchronised from Google Drive.
Once this is done, Share a new folder you have created under the admin account called “Teachers” with all the staff. This will be the new sharing point for all the staff and you will see how quickly it will grow when staff start to use it.
If you already have all three of these down packed in your school then give yourself a pat on the back!