Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Starting a Technology Collaborative

Grass Roots

The past three weeks I've had meetings in my classroom with a few people on my staff who are interested in using technology in education. All I did was email the entire staff to see who would be into being part of a grass roots team of people talking about what we do and can be doing to enhance learning in our school. After three weeks of meeting our number has grown to about 10 people. One of those people is our Principal! He came in the door last week and I was a bit shocked! We are not an official committee and we weren't having an official type of meeting and I have no status other than classroom teacher. It's great to see that teachers are interested in helping students learn and that they are willing to give up a lunch hour each week to meet to discuss ideas.


Photo Credit: tbone_sandwich via Compfight cc

Connections

In our first meeting we got to know each other better. We discussed our background, if any, with technology. I set up Google Apps for Education accounts for those that did not have them and reset passwords for others. I am lucky to be an admin on our Google Apps for Education at Regina Public Schools. I can give students, administrators, teachers and interns accounts very quickly. We found that some of our members were using Google Apps in other schools but not in this one. We identified that we had a variety of levels of knowledge and that we all shared one important thing. We are passionate educators who aren't afraid to share and to learn new things. One of our members teaches in another school in the afternoon so she joins us via Google Hangouts. We shared our minutes document and kept notes on what we were talking about. We've kept this document up each week and are following a bit of the style that we see in the document we've been using in our EC&I 831 class at the U of R. We are learning to collaborate on the minutes and learning how to connect with phones, tablets and laptops.

I created a Google Group, a Google + community and a blog on Blogger for our Tech collaborative to start the process of sharing ideas and building interest in what we are doing. I hope that these connections will be the beginning of something great at our school!

Learning Together

The biggest goal for our team is to learn how to collaborate and share with each other using technology. We are learning together how to use web based tools to communicate and collaborate with each other. Through hands on experimentation we are learning how easy it is to work together. The next step is to take what we have learned and use it with students. I have set up a few classes with Google Accounts already. My goal is to have our entire team become admins so that we can work to set up accounts for more teachers and students. Many keyboards would make light work of entering all of our students into the system! If we can hit a critical mass this year with teachers and students collaborating with each other I would be so excited.

Making Better Use of Our Tools

We've also been sharing which tools work well for us when communicating and collaborating with students. We are lucky to have a growing population of students bringing their own technology into the classroom. There has long been the complaint that we can't involve more technology in our classrooms because of the shortage of shared resources. We've been discussing the shift towards BYOD and how we can easily facilitate ways for students to use their devices in a positive manner in our classes.

So it's a beginning. I'm glad I took a leadership role in getting this team put together. I hope that it will grow and that the collaboration will continue. We are learning together and working together. Hopefully in doing so we will encourage the same from our students. If you've been in a school that's been working towards better using technology in the classroom and on staff feel free to share some ideas with me. 

3 comments:

  1. Great initiative Jason. It sounds like you are making some real progress. I am trying to create a community with faculty at the U of R using our LMS to start and then hopefully incorporating more open tools later. It is really slow and not taking off like I had hoped. I have some ideas. I plan to sit down and rethink how I might proceed in the new year. Maybe getting everyone interested f2f like you have done and then plan out the next steps from there. Good luck with your endeavor.

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  2. Great project Jason. It sounds like you have an enthusiastic staff to work with. Hope your colloboration continues for the rest of the year and into the future. How many staff do you have at your school? What time of day do you meet?

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  3. Good for you for taking on this leadership role Jason! It is encouraging to hear that you have so much support on your side already, including your administration. At our school, educational technology seems to have limited support. I've been encouraging the use of technology in more subtle ways, including sharing things I've learned through our sessions with staff, showing people new tools I'm excited about, and explaining how I have had success. Perhaps this is my grassroots way to increase student engagement through technology! Good luck with the meetings.

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