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Introducing Google Apps to Our School - Parkvale School 2011

Cluster Goal 3
Teachers will plan for e-learning integration. Teachers will use Web 2.0 tools and digital resources to create exciting learning opportunities for students. Teachers will carry out an 'e-learning teaching Inquiry' to support the integration of e-learning into their practice.

  • Use of Google docs for communication

Parkvale School is a decile 5 school in Hastings (on the rural fringe), with a current roll of 520 children from years 1 - 6. We have 27 teaching staff (including full and part-time staff) and approximately 8 suppport staff. We are the lead school in the Magpie ICT contract and are currently in our 2nd year of the contract.

We felt that as a school we needed to open up readily available digital lines of communication and sharing so staff could access information on their laptops, contribute to documents and discussion in a collaborative way and revisit information from home easily. We wanted to cut down the amount of paper we were using and the amount of work being done on an administrative level.
We thought it was worth investigating the use of Google Docs as a way of achieving this.

What we did. (Process)

  • We looked at Google Docs as an ICT Team. Talked to other schools that were currently using Google Docs to see how they had found it. Discussed the pro’s and con’s.
  • Changed our e-mail over to Google.
  • Ran a staff meeting on using Google Mail, creating contacts and groups and how to create and share a Google Doc.
  • Made it compulsory to use Google for e-mail, reading school Daily News and putting Absences into a Google Doc each morning.
  • After half a term of using Google Mail, and Google Docs, we introduced Google Calendar.  We gave staff a chance to use and experiment with calendars for a few weeks.  
  • We then made it compulsory to enter school events on to a shared Google calendar and did away with the paper school events calendar.
  • We provided on-going informal assistance to those who had questions or queries about Google Docs or any other applications
  • We ran extra after school sessions on using Google Apps  to show finer points and answer queries once staff had been using these for a term.

What happened. (Outcomes)

  • Staff attended a meeting dedicated to using Google Mail and Docs.  Staff then had a practice week of using Google Docs for Daily News and Absentees and it then became compulsory to use these.
  • This led to Teams using Google Docs for sharing agenda’s and Team Minutes.  This was followed by staff and management using Google Docs for shared discussions around school organisation, PD developments, reflections, programmes and new initiatives.
  • Staff soon started to rave about how convenient and easy Google Docs were to use and how they could collaborate with other staff and know what others are thinking.  
  • Communication within the school became clearer and quicker and administration staff found they were not having to spend a considerable amount of their day ferrying messages around the school or finding out who was absent that day.
  • It has made it easier to pick up trends in attendance and follow up on these.
  • Staff have found they can contribute events and items to calendars as soon as they think about it rather than having to come to the office to find the school Diary.  They have found it easier to see what is happening on a daily, weekly, monthly basis within school and update this diary as changes occur. This led to quicker team planning and less overlap of events.
  • Some teachers have began using Google Docs with their classes. All students log on with a class account. The students love this quick digital collaboration and are eager to share their ideas in documents. Unit work and literacy groups are using the docs and presentations to share their learning and develop ideas together.
Links to movie clips from a variety of teachers and the principal and their use of Google Docs.

Mark to share his Google Doc experience: Collaboration and reflections.

Tracey to share her class experience with Google Docs: Groups.

Nicole to share her use of Docs as Maths leader: Timetables and reflections.

Ngaio to share the ease of Docs for Absences and agendas.

Ngaio - Google Apps from Sandy McFadyen on Vimeo.

Key Lessons and Where to Next?

  • Our continuing aim is for staff to increase their knowledge and capability in using Google Apps and to make the sharing of information, events and news online as much as possible so that paper versions can be completely done away with.
  • We will transition into organising and recording relievers through a Google spreadsheet so staff can plan release from anywhere at anytime. This will cut down on teachers needing to search for available relievers.
  • We want all staff to use Google Apps as their primary method of delivering messages to the wider school and increase the use of Docs for collaboration.
  • We want more students to use Google Docs for group and whole class collaboration and presentation and will be introducing the Google Dashboard next year for at least 1 to 1 computing classes and probably all senior classes.
  • We would suggest that when you make the decision to use Google Docs to take the place of an admin system, that you just do it, because sometimes the best way is just to the force the change.