We are nearing the end of our second year with Google Apps in my district and this summer we will be moving our adult users from Outlook to Gmail. I have been teaching classes for the past few weeks now, preparing users for the "big e-mail switch" and doing my best to make the transition as easy as possible for everyone. We are no different than any other school district, most users are open to the change, some a little nervous and a small percentage thinking that a natural disaster is sure to follow. What was interesting in a class of about 25 teachers last week, I asked how many of you already use Gmail for personal e-mail at home. About 15 people raised their hands and at that point, I figured I was in trouble as collectively, this group knows way more about this program than I do.
The class went on to be a great experience and I learned from them as much as I was able to share with them. The power in the room that day was the contributions and support from each individual. If there was a question asked, someone in the room already had an answer from previous Gmail experience or together, they quickly found the answer. Think how powerful groups of administrators, teachers, and departments could be if they shared their knowledge and strengths with one another. Collaboration is something that seems difficult for adults to do, stepping outside the walls of offices and classrooms to truly share expertise can be a challenge.
Back to switching e-mail clients, which may seem tough for some, is nothing when compared to adding disruptive technology into an environment and changing the cultural of a school. Great leadership, supportive atmosphere, think professional learning communities with collaboration coaches, and the willingness to open the classroom doors, is part of the recipe for systematic change.
I am curious to what others have done to support change at their schools/district. If you have a story, please share with a comment. Thanks for reading!