Tag Archives: administration

5 tips to help school administrators make the most of Google Calendar

The is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius

new-google-calendar-810x456

One of my favorite Google Apps resources is Google Calendar. If your school has enrolled in Google Apps for Education, it is part of your GAFE suite of tools. With a Google Calendar, you can more effectively organize and plan your administrative tasks. Here are some quick tips to help you to effectively wield your Google Calendar tools.

Use a Shared Calendar

With Shared Calendars, multiple people can view and even edit the same calendar. It’s easy to manage a shared calendar with your Administrative Team, Clubs, Faculty, or even parents using Google Calendar.

create shared google calendarYou can give members the ability to subscribe to the calendar to view updates or even grant them the ability to edit it. To do this, simply open up your Google Calendar and scroll down to “My Calendars,” press the down arrow and select “Create new calendar.” Give the Calendar a Title and include a brief description. Next, check the box “share this calendar with others” and select your sharing settings. Do you want it to be a public calendar that others can only view, share it out publicly only with people in your organization, or do you want to invite specific people who can then add items to the calendar?

Google Calendar Sharing Settings

Google Calendar allows you to be flexible here with multiple levels of access and sharing; for example, you can allow some people to view and others to edit. As the creator of the calendar, you can always change or revoke another person’s access to it. This is a great way to keep a group organized. By keeping a shared calendar with faculty, you can schedule tests and major assignments to make sure students don’t get overwhelmed. If you have resources, like computer labs or iPad carts, you can allow faculty to “reserve resources” on a campus calendar.

Set up Appointment Slots

Google Calendar also allows you to set up appointment slots without sharing your whole calendar with others. This is a great way to hold open office hours or allow people to book time with you; it will also let your faculty, students, other administrators, and parents know your availability without publishing your entire calendar. Note that you can only use this feature with a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) or a Business account; it will not work on a personal account.

When you open your calendar, switch to Week or Day view. Click on your Calendar anywhere and select “Appointment Slots” from the pop up bubble. From the drop down menu, select the Calendar you want to use. I recommend using the calendar you use for professional appointments – rather than a shared calendar – so that you don’t inadvertently schedule a conflicting event. Remember, sharing appointment slots will not reveal your whole Calendar only the time slots you designate available for appointments. Give your Appointment Slots a name, such as “Ms. Carey’s Office Hours,” and set the times for your appointments. When you have finished, copy the appointment page URL and click save. When you share the URL with others, they will be able to schedule appointments with you. If you would like a step-by-step tutorial, check out this great video by The Gooru

Sync your Calendar Across Devices

If you’re like me, you’re always on the run; going to a meeting, a class, or just trying to grab a bite of lunch. My Smartphone is my organizer on the go because it’s readily accessible and I can see my schedule at the touch of a finger. One of the great things about Google Calendar is that it resides in the cloud, so you can sync it wirelessly across devices without thinking about it! If someone emails you a calendar invite and you accept it on your desktop, it will populate your calendar on your laptop, smartphone, and/or tablet. Likewise, if you are stopped in the hallway and someone asks for a meeting, you can schedule it on your Smartphone and it will then appear on your calendar across all of your devices. Here are the instructions for setting up Google Calendar syncing with your with Android & iOS devices. If you need a little extra push to keep you going, you can even have Google Calendar send you a reminder with a text message directly to your cell phone (price subject to your texting plan).

Schedule a GHO Video Call

GHO Link in CalendarsVideo conference calls are becoming more popular as they allow you to engage beyond a disembodied voice. Google Calendar allows you to not only schedule a video conference call, but to include a link within the calendar appointment that users simply click to join. This is much faster than logging into Google Hangouts or Skype and inviting people manually. With aGoogle Hangout, you can have up to 10 people in the same call; so you can easily navigate remote meetings, interviews with multiple participants, and more.

Add Attachments to Calendar Events

Often, our calendar events include meetings to review different documentation, such as policies and procedures, or to discuss a specific agenda. To keep everything organized, you can attach a document to your event. This is a feature that requires you to enable “Labs” in Google Calendar.

goole labsNOTE: Labs are features that have not yet been broadly rolled out and are still in beta. It is important to know that sometimes Labs features are buggy. If you experience problems, simply disable Labs. To enable the “Event Attachments” Lab click on the the gear in the top right corner, then select Labs, scroll down and enable “Event Attachments.”

Now when you create a new event you will have the option “add attachment” available. When participants log on to the calendar, they will see the attachment and have the ability to download it.

There are a lot of great ways that Calendar can make your administrative duties more organized and streamlined. Explore other tips and tricks as well as more Lab options.

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4 Ways Administrators can use Google Drive

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.

google_drive-810x456

One of the most effective ways for Administrators to empower and encourage their faculty to use new and innovative tools is to model best practices by employing them in their own administrative duties. Google Docs, a tool withinGoogle Drive, includes a number of robust features that can streamline teacher’s administrative tasks and highlight their ability to foster collaboration among peers and students. If you need a quick tutorial on Google Drive, check out this article on Daily Genius. Here are four ways that Administrators can use Google Docs to both streamline their own administrative tasks and model effective use of technology.

Real-Time Collaboration

One of the most time consuming administrative tasks is writing policies, drafting communications, and updating school documents. Often this is done in a collaborative setting with other administrators, educators, students, and/or parents. Rather than email files back and forth, draft your work on a Google Doc and share it with others for their input. You can share at different levels, giving your collaborators the ability to “view,” “comment,” or “edit.” This can give you control over who makes changes before a final draft. To review changes in a document, go to File → See Revision history. This will allow you to see what edits were made and by whom.

Community Whiteboards

Faculty live a life on the go and as such, it is easy for them to become isolated from their community. A solution to this is posting an embedded Google Doc on a blog, website, or other digital bulletin board. By selecting File → Publish to the Web and select the “embed.” You can then include this on your electronic medium of choice. Faculty can leave notes, engage in discussions about ideas, etc.

Make Comments for Evaluations

Narrative comments are an important component of evaluating faculty. With a Google Doc, you can share your reviews with Department Chairs, HR, and the Faculty being reviewed. You can even populate a document using a Google Form with the docAppender add-on.

Newsletters

Google Docs allow you to include images, live links, and more. You can easily format a school newsletter (using Google’s collaborative features with contributors) and then share it with your Faculty, Staff, Students, and Parents. With “view only” privileges, individuals can still read content, click on the links, and make a copy for their own records. An electronic newsletter saves on printing and mailing costs and allows you to easily catalogue and digitally archive content for later access.

These are three simple tips to help you get started using Google Docs to complete administrative tasks. By harnessing the power of its collaborative tools and ability to share with people both inside and outside of your community, you can streamline your own work while modeling effective and powerful technology use for others.

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How to Empower Your Faculty in a Mobile Learning Environment

mobile-learning

Introducing a new technology into the learning environment can be an intimidating experience, even for seasoned educators. However, with careful and intentional planning on the part of administrators and educational leaders, they can become powerful tools as part of your curriculum and pedagogy. Here are eight ways that administrators and school leaders can empower their faculty to successfully adopt technology in their curriculum.

Is the Technology on Your School or in your School

mobile learning

Greg Kulowiec, in his talks on iPads and other mobile devices, is fond of asking “Is your technology on your classroom or in your classroom?” Using technology because it’s there, or because you’re “expected to” can be a path to failure. Instead, when choosing a tool, be it a device, a software platform, or another instrument, consider your educational philosophy, objectives, and vision. In his article, 5 Critical Mistakes Schools Make with iPads (and how to Correct Them), Tom Daccord argues that you should explore and examine your curriculum, learning objectives and goals, and pedagogical vision. Perhaps you are in the process of adopting technology at your school in the form of a 1:1 or BYOD; or expanding an existing program, however, don’t just throw technology at existing educational problems. Instead, make meaningful choices.

Reexamine Learning Spaces

A traditional learning environment, with students in rows looking at the teacher, is not an environment conducive for learning with mobile technology. Mobile devices are just that, mobile! Look at restructuring learning spaces to be more conducive to your learning environment. This could include having students work in pods or even taking their classroom outside of the physical building. Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs argues that forward thinking schools are fully redesigning the concept of what a school should “look like.” If you want to see some amazing, innovative architecture look at the cutting edge designs of Fielding Nair International. The Hilbrook School has some great tips on this in “5 Steps Towards an Intentional Learning Space.”

Bring Faculty into the Discussion

All of us in education are advocating for the children. We want our learners to be successful. Teachers are also stakeholders in this experience, in fact, likely the most passionate ones! By bringing them into the decision making and implementation process, you foster their investment, promote buy-in, and can readily address their needs and concerns. Teachers are your greatest allies, use them!

Technology Must be Education Focused

The transition of technology in the classroom has been a rapid one. Many schools are still scrambling to catch up. Because of this, technology often still falls under “Operations” (akin to utilities, car-pools, maintenance, etc) as opposed to “Education.” If you are introducing technology into your curriculum, then youmust ensure that your technology has an educational focus. To this end, it’s important that Educators and Educational Administrators be directly involved in the decision making process for hardware, software, filtering, and more, just as they decide other school supplies like notebooks, textbooks, and pencils.

Professional Development and Mobile Learning

The most important and powerful thing you can do to empower your faculty is to provide them with meaningful, relevant, and dedicated professional development time. In a time when schools are experiencing budget shortfalls, Professional Development budgets are often the first ones slashed. However, remember that when introducing a device into the classroom, even your veteran teachers are back to year one. Their curricular thinking, classroom management, and lesson planning are being entirely restructured and shifted. Professional Development should be tiered and scaled appropriately; do not put AP Science Teachers in curricular training with elementary school science; do not train all teachers with an “introduction to email” course. Instead, professional development should be leveled (Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced), as well as focused on appropriate grades and subject matter. I also encourage you to not add training to already busy schedules. This should be dedicated training time in lieu of other experiences. In addition to in-house opportunities, arrange for funding and provide time off for teachers to attend conferences, participate in webinars, and take classes. While it is great to organize internal opportunities for professional development, look to bring in outside instructors such that you can tap their expertise and let teachers hear from a different voice.

Tap Peer Teachers

One of the best resources that you have are your teachers. Tap your power users and those who have greater social influence in your schools. Even if you make it clear that approaching your Tech Director or Department Chair for assistance is not a “penalty,” it can still be in the back of their minds. A peer is less intimidating. Additionally, they know that their fellow teachers have the same students and work conditions as they do. Their advice and ideas often carry more weight than a Tech Director with decades of experience.

Don’t Lock it Down!

If you allow your teachers to be their best professional selves, to personalize their tools and devices, you give them ownership of the technology in their classrooms. If you send the message: “This item is fragile and dangerous. You can’t be trusted to use it properly, install software, or explore,” then you can’t expect them actively want to use and explore with these devices. I am not saying it should be the wild, wild west. However, set a reasonable use policy and trust your faculty to be their professional selves. By managing their own devices they can explore new tools, become more comfortable, and therefore feel empowered to use it in their classrooms.

Allow Time for Learning and Growth

New devices come with a learning curve. While you can minimize it, there will be some growing pains. Do not make technology adoption a high stakes game for your faculty. Allow for mistakes and failure. One of my favorite podcasts,Freaknomics, posted an episodea few months ago entitled “Failure is Your Friend.” By failing, you take risks, learn, and advance. So don’t just tolerate failure, celebrate it! If you want an innovative environment, then you must celebrate the process of innovation, which includes failure.

Building and fostering an environment where your faculty feels empowered to use mobile devices requires an intentional process on the side of administrators. Respect them as stakeholders, support them professionally, and allow them to explore and take risks. You will be amazed at what they can do!

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5 Ways School Administrators Can Use Google Apps

This is reblogged from my post on Daily Genius.

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One of the most powerful ways that administrators can encourage their faculty to adopt new technologies in their classroom and curriculum is by modeling effective application of new digital tools. With Google Apps for Education, there are many tools that are helpful for administrative tasks, providing a number of ways to effectively model technology usage on a daily basis.

CREATE A SHARED GOOGLE DOC FOR FACULTY MEETINGS

Use Google Docs to create and share meeting agendas. Not only will it prep your faculty for meetings, but they can use the document to keep shared, electronic notes; this is especially useful if you have a designated individual to keep minutes. You can include live links for content, embed materials, create & share calendar events, etc. These are not possible in a static, paper document and not only demonstrate your commitment to adopting new technologies, but also help spark the imaginations of your teachers in applying these new tools in their own classrooms.

USE A GOOGLE FORM FOR CLASSROOM OBSERVATIONS

If you visit and observe classes, then turn your classroom observation forms into Google Forms. Having an electronic form will save you time and space. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can complete the form easily on a portable device. Also, by using a Google Form, you can quickly email the contents to faculty, department chairs, and HR. Here is an example form for observation.

USE GOOGLE FORMS FOR SIGN-UPS

If you need chaperones for a school dance or field trip, lunch duty, or detention, Google Forms is a simple way to have faculty and staff respond. You can easily share a form via email or post it on your school’s website. With the new Google Forms Add-Ons, you can limit responses by automatically turning off the form when you reach maximum participation, set up notifications when faculty respond, and export it to a shareable Google Doc when you need to share information (such as chaperone contact information or time slot sign-ups for an event).

USE GOOGLE CALENDAR’S “APPOINTMENTS SLOTS” FOR MEETINGS

One of my favorite features in Google Calendar is setting up “Appointment Slots.” Keeping an “open door” can be tricky; it’s difficult to get your work done when you are regularly interrupted. Posting your calendar can also be problematic as even if you have nothing scheduled, you may want that time reserved for administrative work, phone calls, or lunch! With appointment slots, you can designate certain times you are available for meetings. This is a great way to have your faculty sign up for face-to-face time with you as well as keep you organized.

If you would like a step-by-step tutorial, check out this great video by The Gooru.

 

COLLECT IMAGES & VIDEOS VIA A SHARED FOLDER

Schools often struggle collecting images of field trips, school plays, and other activities. If you would like to facilitate this process, then share a folder with the community that they can use to upload videos and photos. When you designate a shared folder, be sure to explore the various options available to you and apply them appropriately. You may want to share the folder only with the certain teachers and students, the whole school, or the broader community like parents and alumni. The flexible sharing options make it easy to individualize. What makes Google Folders such a great way to collect materials is the fact that most people use their phone as their camera. With the free Google Drive App for Android or iOS, they can upload directly from their device.

Google Apps is a flexible and robust tool that can facilitate not only teaching, but also administrative duties. Additionally, by modeling effective use of technology with your own administrative tasks for your faculty, you familiarize them with available tools and encourage them to apply them in their own classrooms.

For an opportunity to learn more about using Google Apps for Education, join EdTechTeacher and Google for the firstEdTechTeacher Google Jamboree. Registration is FREE! The deadline to apply is January 7th.

Life of an Educator by Justin Tarte: 10 tips to avoid technology integration frustration

technology frustrationYou’ve heard it before, you’ve seen it before, and you’ve most likely experienced it yourself before: technology integration frustration. Change is not easy. When we talk about change, especially technology changes that take us into the wide world of the unknown, things can quickly become even more complicated.
Technology integration in schools is particularly important because kids are really branching out and utilizing technology at a much higher rate than ever before. Part of teaching and helping students to safely and appropriately use technology is recognizing that it’s happening all around us. 
Here are 10 tips to help you and your colleagues avoid technology integration frustration.

Life of an Educator by Justin Tarte: 10 tips to avoid technology integration frustration.

Google Apps Planning & Deployment Best Practices

courtesy of wikimedia commons

courtesy of wikimedia commons

The next session I am attending is “Google Apps Planning & Deployment Best Practices” by Tim Lee. You can find his presentation here.

Tim highlights the need for laying a proper foundation. This includes:

Plan

  • Have a written plan that is unique to your institution’s needs.
  • Identify use cases across the school.
  • Showcase these tools to get buy-in from faculty, staff, parents, and students!

Set Realistic Goals

  • Determine and define stages of your adoption; be flexible, things can and will change!
  • Do this project in bite sized chunks. Prioritize.
  • Highlight measurable success and celebrate it.

Keep Up to Date

  • Update software and apps as needed.
  • Spread the word about what is possible and new material that is added.
  • Share a “tip of the week”
  • Revise your adoption plan as tools, needs, culture, change

The next focus after your plan should be professional development, which is probably the most important step in success.

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Join the Conversation

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  • Differential costs, focus on task skills, and flexible tools

Next consider how you want to setup and manage google apps

Administration

  • Create administration roles carefully
  • Delegate access (e.g. can reset passwords, manage sites at different schools or divisions).
courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Organize Users Wisley

  • Create appropriate organization units and determine why.
  • Only enable appropriate services (e.g. do you want students to have access to Google Voice?).
  • Establish channels of communication so that teachers and admin can request additional services.

Track Usage with Reports

  • Keep track of activity (how many people are creating docs? How are people collaborating?).
  • Consider paying for additional security services like Cloudlock.
  • Be sure to audit the log to check out what other admin are doing.

Learn to use Google Apps Script and/or API’s

Next Consider Student Management/Compliance

Walled Garden

  • For elementary aged students you may not want to let them send emails outside or receive outside emails.

Consider Filtering Options

  • Whatever you choose to filter, it should change as students get older or as needs change.
  • Establish delegation rules, perhaps a generic mailbox for school groups. You may also want to turn off the features to prevent student shenanigans.

Archive/eDiscovery/backup

  • Check out Google Vault for email.
  • Make sure you have tools to know what’s going on in email and drive and how you want to monitor content.
  • Consider your backup needs and find an appropriate tool (e.g. Backupify).

In addition to usage professional development, it’s also important to plan how teacher’s can use these tools in the classroom.

Google Sites

  • Class/Teacher Sites
  • Library & Technology Sites
  • Student digital portfolios or project sites

Google Groups

  • Online discussions
  • Take the classroom outside of the room

Explore the Marketplace

Take Google Apps to the Next Level!

  • Consider single user logon
  • Consider syncing existing LDAP (GADS) or SIS
Hapara Teacher Dashboard via Hapara

Hapara Teacher Dashboard via Hapara

Top  Issues Challenging GAFE: Admin & Teacher Workload, Administrative Tools, and Online Safety

  • Explore options like Teacher Dashboard by Hapara or provide professional development that will help manage work flow.
  • Explore monitoring/management options.
  • Be mindful of training and requirements!

Whenever considering adoption, make sure that you customize GAFE to meet your needs, plan for PD, and simplify student and teacher interactions as much as possible!

For additional info, check out the GAFE Audit and the Best Practices Document! Take what Google gives you with a grain of salt and modify to meet your school’s needs.

Google Apps Admin Console – Best Practices for Schools

The next event I attended was “Google Apps Admin Console – Best Practices for Schools,” led by Peter Henrie.  Peter is an educational technology consultant for AmplifiedIT – a consultancy that works solely with educational institutions.

Part of your role as administration is to ensure that you are enabling necessary features for faculty, staff, and students as well as tweak them to meet your needs.

This is a largely hands on workshop for the administrator console, so I may not be writing as much. Right now, the Google Admin panel has two versions: an older version and a new one (you see it if your account is less than five months old or you have been migrated).

There is also the Google Marketplace, a way to add on services (both free and paid). It’s important to understand that third party services are not bound by the Terms of Services for Google Apps for Education. Therefore, be sure that before you add them, you check out the terms of service. One great tool (that is paid) to check out is CloudLock. Also check to ensure that services you do not want are turned off. Be sure to check not only the default GAFE apps, but the additional google services.

Screen Shot 2013-10-19 at 11.48.01 AMAnother tool I want to play with is aliases – that will allow a single user to get email from multiple names (e.g. if it’s misspelled, someone manages sports, etc).

In the Administrator console, you can also assign people different roles. For example, you may not want someone to have full access to administrative privileges, but they should be able to reset passwords. A great tool to enable user abilities without endangering the security or setup of your system.

Another great feature (that I have used as we piloted Google Drive) is the ability to pull reports. You can examine stats such as: email usage, doc creation, collaboration, etc. over a period of time. It’s a great tool for advertising its success and adoption.

Another key suggestion is to write down the support numbers and your pin. Because when you really need Google is when your console goes down – and you can’t get in to get the number. Be sure to note that the PIN changes regularly!

He also highlights that calendars can be used to schedule resources (e.g. computer carts, rooms, etc). One of the best tutorials on this is by Anson Alexander:

Another element that he highlighted is that you get more accesibility and services the more you enable (e.g. using gmail or Google Plus) as well as devices (e.g. Chromebooks). Every time you add a service or device, be sure to explore all of the settings. Understand the settings and what you have setup. For example, in GMail you can include spam filters, content filters, and routing.

The key concepts I have taken from this session is explore your settings fully and regularly.