Our hub meeting last week has forced me (willingly of course!) to reflect on our journey so far in St. Fintan’s. In some aspects of the project I feel that we’ve made massive progress in a fairly short time. In only four years we have totally overhauled and updated our hardware and school network, taken on eportal at a whole-school level, and now as part of Living Schools Lab we have implemented a school-wide email and cloud network through Google Apps. Major changes!
Part of the Living Schools Lab project is to document and assess how these changes occur, and more importantly, how could another school learn from ours and make those same changes?
To be honest, it has happened so subtly, and has been so inherent within the staff and students that it’s almost impossible to track! But there’s no doubt, there has been a shift.
If I could sum it up in two words it would be these- baby steps! In my short presentation last week, I mentioned the changes I would make if I was to begin this project again. Firstly I would adjust my expectations. Not lower them, I might add, just narrow the goalposts a little. To quote Gearoid, “money, money, money, time, time, time!” My job is to teach, and also to mind 90 Transition Years, and as enthusiastic as I am about this project and its implications for my school, I have found that each step has taken a lot longer than I imagined!
Back in August, myself and Shane presented to the staff about Gmail, and Drive, and how to add contacts, and how to share documents. All in 45 minutes! So the other change I would make would be to simplify this presentation. I would show two things a) how to log in to Gmail and b) how to set up a contacts group. That’s it! Because anyone who was fairly tech-savvy figured out the rest in their own time. And the people who weren’t only want to hear the basics anyway.
The success of this project so far is down to the staff and students. I’m stealing a phrase from Grainne here, but I’ve realised that a ‘filter-out’ approach is the key. I think teachers will try anything new if they can see the value of it for their students and if it makes their own life easier. And most students are so comfortable with ICT that it seems absurd not to make it a major part of their school life. Slowly but surely, word of mouth is increasing the number of users of Google Apps in the school.
Google Forms are a great way of gathering feedback from students and teachers. They have already been used to survey teachers and first years as part of our SSE plan. I’ve also attached a form that I sent out in January to see how Drive was going for the staff.
This week, a new eLearning committee has been set up and we’re having our first meeting on Tuesday. Our goals are simple and achievable. By Easter, each committee member will:
1. Set up a Contacts Group for all classes
2. Upload some (all?) resources into organised folders in Drive
3. Share resources with at least one class group
4. Receive work from at least one class group
5. Share any successes/useful websites/tips/issues in the Google Group
6. Promote among their subject department and friends!
So we’ll see how that all goes, and take it from there. By the end of this year I hope that all students will have used Apps in some way, and that the eLearning committee to start an Edmodo trial. Baby steps.
staff feedback form