Has your school just arrived at the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) party? For those of you who’ve just migrated over to GAFE, you are likely aware that your work is not quite finished. You may have just migrated, but now it’s time to get everyone to start loving and adopting this powerful platform.
A challenging step in the cloud-IT shift is end user adoption. School systems with more experienced employees may find moving to the cloud equivalent to moving a mountain because employees resist change. Change can be difficult for many, but don’t lose hope. Here are eight verbs for getting the GAFE ball rolling at your school.
1. EXCITE your school community by communicating your Google Apps mission/vision with all stakeholders. Show them Google case studies that highlight the GAFE benefits reaped by schools similar to your own. Present them with hard facts that impact their lives such as this statistic: with GAFE, 52 teacher hours are saved per year. You can also share inspirational facts like the fact that GAFE has improved literacy rates in many schools. Motivate everyone to be evangelists of this innovative technology by identifying ways it will improve each department. Get everyone onboard.
2. EMPOWER your stakeholders by including them in a structured plan of deployment. Create a timeline and provide next steps for getting the word out. Make it easy by serving them templates and examples for how other schools have advocated for the platform. Involve as many different departments and roles as you can. With an energized group of GAFE supporters on the job, growing Google Apps will be much easier.
3. EDUCATE yourself by taking advantage of the many training tools offered by Google. Make sure you are aware of all the features and uses of the platform. Have a question about the platform? Post it to one of the many Google+ educational communities and get fast answers from your peers. Search, download, and learn GAFE “hacks” by downloading and reading instructional eBooks. Subscribe to relevant blogs for daily advice. Visual learner? Head to YouTube and run a search. Become the in-house expert to all things Google. How could you fully take advantage of all Google has to offer if you haven’t taken the time to fully explore the platform firsthand?
4. ENCOURAGE parents and caretakers to leverage some of the great GAFE applications to get involved/stay up-to-date with their student. Set up “virtual office hours” for teacher-parent conferences and connect anytime via text chat or Hangouts. Showcase how easy it is for parents, no matter how busy they may be, to be included in their children’s education.
5. CONNECT administrators, teachers, and other educational professionals locally and nation-wide through Google’s engaging User Groups. Exchange ideas for lesson plans. Share tips and best practices. Troubleshoot. Learn from each other about the awesome power of this program.
6. UNITE students by researching and assigning highly collaborative group projects in Presentations, Sheets, or Drawings that requires them to work together with their peer group. Each student can add his or her own contribution seamlessly to create a dynamic group presentation. The ease of real-time collaboration from the Google platform has revolutionized education and can truly impact the way students learn and communicate.
7. INSPIRE students with exciting “guest speakers” addressing the class remotely through Talk or Video. Introduce them to individuals they may never have had the chance to encounter if not for these virtual communication tools. What about virtual exchange students? Anything is possible!
8. LEARN about your students from your students by leveraging the Forms survey feature. Poll a classroom and find out what’s working best and what needs to be reassessed. Ensure students are getting the most from their classroom experience with real-time feedback. Find out what they really think of last week’s exam. Forms has the potential to open up communication in a whole new way.
Now you know the 8 verbs for finding success with Google Apps for Education: excite, empower, educate, encourage, connect, unite, inspire, and learn. Following through on these suggestions will have you well on your way towards becoming a lean, mean GAFE machine. Remember, continue to take advantage of the plethora of Google resources available to you to help make your program as good as it gets. Never stop learning!