7 Edtech Strategies For A Recent 1:1 Rollout
Once upon a time, Good High School gave every student a Chromebook to take to class and take home. But the school did not educate the teachers on how to effectively use the Chromebooks. So teachers at Good High School did not show the students how to effectively use the technology. This led to many parents not understanding the value of the Chromebooks. And this led to the Chromebooks being used as paperweights in many classrooms.
Then a Google Certified Trainer accepted a position at Good High School and….
I’ll let you finish your own version of the narrative. If you work in public education, you know that while this narrative may make you sigh, it happens too often. In this post I address 7 strategies that I would teach the staff of Good High School to address common issues with a recent 1:1 rollout.
(1) Show students around the Google Drive
No matter who students are, or when they were born, they should be guided through how to use the Google Drive. In addition to making documents, students should know that they can save in their own drive documents they’ll need to access. Once they do this, they should organize the documents into nested folders so that they will know how to reference the documents in the future. Students should also know how to search their drive if they know only a few keywords of the title. Finally, students should know that any Google doc can also be bookmarked for easy access, and it is possible to make nested folders in the bookmark bar in Chrome.
(2) Teach students how to use the G Suite site panel
As of August 2018, G Suite users have the option to turn on the side panel to give quick access to Calendar, Keep, and Tasks. Students should explicitly be taught the benefits of each app, and when to use each. In my 9 years of experience as a high school teacher I’ve seen hundreds of examples of weak executive function negatively impacting student performance. After students were taught to use the free tools available to them, I then saw hundreds of examples of students succeeding due to strong executive function skills. If you work in education, I’m sure that you’ve seen this too.
(3) Give students a “Tech Tips” cheat sheet
Once students are shown how to do something, and time to practice the skill, some will always need a quick reference to go back to. This is why a tech tips cheat sheet can save a lot of anxiety and headaches. Topics that can be on this cheat sheet include: (a) how to avoid confusion with too many tabs, (b) how to keep track of due dates, (c) how to use tech to manage work, and (d) what to do with the tech doesn’t work.
(4) Empower students with a grade calculator
Most high school students (sooner or later) realize that there is limited time to do everything that they need to do, and that they need to weigh their study options. Sometimes they (or their parents) pressure teachers to update grades in the gradebook or enter hypothetical grades so they can know how their overall grade will be impacted. This is rarely to the teacher’s pleasure, and is unnecessary since it is possible to make a template of a digital grade calculator. Whatever the grade formula is, use the formula functions in Google sheets to set up the grade calculator. Then turn the sheet into a template by pushing out a link that forces a copy to be made. See Shake Up Learning’s description of how to do this last step.
(5) Show teachers how to set up a tutoring check-in form
Students will visit a teacher’s classroom before or after class for a number of reasons. Sometimes they want to make up a test, sometimes they want to re-take a test, sometimes they need to access late work, and sometimes they need to study something in particular. With so many different reasons to come to tutoring, it can be difficult for a teacher to manage all of the different needs. This is why it’s important to set up a branched Google form for students to check in at tutoring. The form can be set up to direct students to resources they will need for success depending on their specific goals, and it will also work as a log for teachers to track who comes to tutoring and when.
(6) Empower teachers with canned and automated email responses
Any change can bring about a feeling of uncertainty with anybody. If a teacher is leading the curricular change with the tech integration, they will be the first point of contact for questions and concerns for both students and parents. Depending on the school, this can lead to an overburdened inbox. One strategy to manage this is setting up quick response email templates using the canned responses option in Gmail. To see how to do this, see Alice Keeler’s description. If this option is still too time consuming, an add-on can be used to send a list of FAQs to all email addresses outside of your organization. See Labnol’s description of how to use the Autoresponder add-on.
(7) Teach teachers how to make appointment slots
Once an inbox is under control, and the most common questions are answered with the list of FAQs, some parents will still want to schedule a meeting to talk in person about the recent integration of technology. Emails going back and forth can be time consuming and several apps make them unnecessary. Within G Suite, educators can schedule appointment slots for when they are able to meet. See a description of how to use this on Google’s Support site. I found that this works best when you know whom you want to schedule an appointment with has a Gmail account. If can’t be sure of this, check out Calend.ly, which works in a similar fashion but with any email domain.
Planning For Success
If you are reading this, you very well may be an educator at a school like Good High School, which I introduced earlier. However there is so much free help available for teachers who want to learn how to effectively use technology in the classroom.
This post gave ideas for how to get started to make sure there is an overall plan for success by building the capacity of both faculty and students. The 7 ideas discussed were:
Show students around Google Drive.
Teach students how to use the G Suite side panel.
Give students a “Tech Tips” cheat sheet.
Empower students with a grade calculator.
Show students how to use a tutoring check-in form.
Empower teachers with canned and automated email responses.
Teach teachers how to make appointment slots.
All of these are ideas, and are currently illustrated on my portfolio page on this site. If you like these ideas, stay tuned. I’ll be blogging in future months about strategies for managing change through educational technology.