Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Big Switch

In Trouble
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 Power
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.

Support Change
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!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jon,

    I think it's a shift to have ed tech facilitators not be experts in every single aspect of the tech. I like your example, you were facilitating on Gmail, and was aware that your audience knew more than you... and that's fine because you tapped into their knowledge to create a shared understanding. That's fabulous!

    As I run ed tech PD classes, some wonder why I don't know everything about it... and I'm fine with that because I know enough, and it's even more powerful to tap into others (or learn it together). Again, I default to it's the dog that wags the tail, and the curriculum or better yet, needs of the learner, is what determines how to integrate the tech. It should never be the other way around. -- This applies to my not having to be the expert in every aspect of the tech, but I sure am aware of the cognitive affects on learning. That's where I insist our focus is.

    One thing I'm committed to doing next year, even though very minute, is to make sure the learning goal is part of Ed Tech Professional Development (PD) names and descriptions. So, instead of offering a class on "Google Apps Forms", it would be "Surveying and Checking for Understanding through Google Forms." That way the purpose for the tech is highlighted -- it's about the learner and not tech in isolation. Does that make sense?

    Kind regards,


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