Lots and lots gets written about using technology in the classroom with young people and how to use tools to engage learners. This post aims to share a couple of ways in which such tools can be used to support learning.
By support learning I mean the administrative side. By using tools effectively, it is possible to create the culture, climate and opportunity to be creative. To our department, using tools in this way allows transformation to take place (see the SAMR model).
This post does not aim to weigh up the relative merits of different tools, just to give two example of how Google Docs have been used. We have chosen Google Docs as the simultaneous editing of documents is intuitive; all of the team have engaged effectively and value the system (our team consists of the very tech savvy to the ‘how do I turn this thing on’) and (most importantly) it is very easy to share documents.
1. Online Schemes of Work
Schemes of Work are living documents. To follow them religiously stifled creatively and creates a situation where the curriculum becomes fossilised. Paper Schemes of Work are now a thing of the past as our entire curriculum is online through Google Docs.
This allows any of the team to modify, update, add resources and evaluate any part of the curriculum at any time. In turn, this transforms that way in which the team works as good ideas, risks and failures are all shared easily.
Using this system also allows us to share our curriculum with others easily. The next stage in the ‘evil plan’ * is to invite young people in to the documents. The great thing about this is that I don’t own the curriculum. We do.
Finally, we think that it’s excellent that we can be sat at home, the beach, up a mountain, in the bath or dancing dressed up as a Gorilla and be able to collaborate. The latest Scheme of Work which is taking shape was written by team members in different places at the same time. This is a transformation of working practices as people can chose where to work and at what time.
2. Using Google Docs for department meeting minutes
I have a love/hate relationship with minutes. They are important in keeping track of projects, but they are boring to write and it takes someone out of the conversation. In addition, we were becoming increasingly frustrated at the mundane, routine items imposed on our valuable time together as a team from further up the food chain.
To us, meetings should be about making decisions, celebrating progress and holding to account.
The solution: pre write the minutes using Google Docs.
This works as I set up a table to cover the progress reports, SLT imposed items etc a week or so before the meeting, The team adds it’s responses, for example we always start by highlighting those GCSE pupils who may need intervention.
The result? Meetings focus on decisions, curriculum building and avoid the repetitive, circular conversation. They are also shorter.
If you’d like to see our curriculum please do get in touch
*not really an evil plan ;-)