Rolling it out

Rolling it out

Google Docs Presentations
Image by Tom Raftery via Flickr

Yesterday was my first attempt to inject Google Apps into the conversation about our online school. Now that we have most of the integration worked out with users, it was time to show just what it was capable of to our staff.

I held three different meetings at three different schools yesterday during which I showed off the capablilities of using gmail and calendar for communication, Google Docs for collaboration, and Google sites for holding projects together. I tried not to get too overwhelming, but I’m afraid that I wasn’t able to hold back my excitment for the possibilities (at least on one of those meetings). When I get started talking about all of the things that you can do “today” in order to improve communication with students, I start answering every question that is layed out in front of me.

Some of the more tangential questions that we explored in the sprawling of these meetings:

  1. How would I conduct a book club using Google Docs?
  2. Is there a way to do a discussion forum in Google Sites?
  3. Can we integrate Ning with our portal page and Google Apps?

The staff is very excited, but perhaps a little overwhelmed.

My idea to make sure that they are not overwhelmed is to do a lot of face to face work with staff in order to make sure tha they have the skills they need in order to communicate effectively using Google Apps. My thought is to make a Google Spreadsheet that would allow me to track just where everyone is in their progression (and allow them to track it themselves). I will be creating this later today, I hope.

The next thing that I would like to do in order to roll it out is to establish the best plan for getting students and parents on board. I have already set up a meeting so that we can all come together and talk about it, but I haven’t gone much further. From our brainstorming yesterday, this is what I believe the roll out should look like:

  1. Meeting to introduce Google Apps and have a conversation with parents and students about what they would like to see more of/less of in its implimentation. Answer any questions that come up.
  2. Pilot meeting with 10-20 students from all grade levels. If I can see them face to face, it would be great to get them all trying out what they do and don’t like about it and where they want it to go next.
  3. Measuring success along the way among staff, parents, and students on logging in, checking gmail, setting up their calendar, etc.
  4. Switching on Google Apps within the LMS and switching off the internal calendar and message system.
  5. Continued workshops on the topics of Beginner/Advanced Gmail, Calendar, and Sites.

My question to everyone that reads this is the following: “What am I missing?” What sorts of roll out pieces haven’t I thought of? What would make this transition easier for staff, students, and parents?

(I’m sorry that this post sounds so much like an e-mail. I really am just in a very procedural place right now. I have to figure this out, and one of the most basic places that I figure something out is on my blog.)

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  1. Ben your staff and co workers are lucky to have such a forwards thinking hands on person heading their professional development and direction. Please keep us updated on how it’s going I know that there are many of us out here wishing we could jump in and dedicate to the use of these tools and resources.
    Just brainstorming here but here’s my initial thoughts:

    *Age restrictions on Google for stud nets? Is it still 13? I know that teachers can serve as “advocates or facilitators” will that be an issue?
    * Open Calendars will they be public or just viewable by your apps or hacking?
    *Still in Beta? Many of the apps are still in Beta meaning some days are better than others; will the inconsistency be an issue?
    *Tech learning curve? Will getting everyone on board be a slower process than anticipated?

    Like I’ve said many times, you are brilliant and I look to much of what you do as leading the charge and I admire your vision so much! Thanks for challenging our thinking and model/system.

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