How about a little of both?

I still see the debating on social media, in news articles, blog posts, and the like. Some healthy debate is good. It creates learning, it broadens horizons, it gives us those, “Oh I hadn’t thought of that” moments. I’m talking about comparing one device or platform against another and trying to figure out which one is better for kids. It feels like we still want there to be “the one” that is all encompassing and all powerful that we put into our students’ hands. Hint: there isn’t one. 

picture of rock em sock em robots toy

It’s like how people are surprised sometimes to hear that I own Apple products. “Kyle! I thought you were a Google guy!”. Well, yes, that’s true I am but did you know that the very first computer I taught myself was an Apple Performa 550? Or did you know that I stood in line at 4am to get the iPhone 3GS? I love my MacBook, iPhone, and iPad but I also love me some Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Calendar just like I love some Clips, iMovie, and Keynote. I have different preferences for different things that I need to do on any given day. I also use PCs and Chromebooks too (cut to dramatic visual). Honestly, I don’t want to be an expert on any given one. I like to know enough just to be dangerous and then I learn more as I need to. 🙂

My point here is that yes, we need to be doing our homework when trying to decide the kinds of devices and platforms we want for students to create and learn with, but maybe it’s time we stop trying to be so locked into just one? Let’s just focus on what our students need and not make it a this vs. that thing anymore. I’m not saying throw proper planning, professional development, and financial responsibility aside, but let’s be more open to what’s possible. As technology departments and as school districts, maybe we need to be thinking bigger about what role we want technology to play in our students’ learning opportunities. We must remember that while learning is no longer tied down to happening just during school hours or just from our formal teachers, learning also isn’t tied to just one platform.

3 Ways for #EdTech Coaches to Communicate with G Suite for Education

In my previous post, I shared some thoughts about the importance of edtech coaches to be an effective and efficient communicator. Strong communication skills, coupled with building relationships, creates a very strong foundation for success in working with teachers and students.

Since many school systems use G Suite for Education already, I thought I’d keep this post under that umbrella and share a few ways you can more effectively communicate and share information with teachers and staff.

Boomerang for Gmail
This is one of my favorite Chrome extensions for Gmail. Boomerang for Gmail has many great functions like the ability to schedule your emails ahead of time (which is great for working ahead to create regularity to your communication efforts), and you can “boomerang” them for yourself to temporarily get it out of your inbox until a later date. Also, you can set it up so if the receiver does not reply to or open your email within a given time frame it will automatically get sent to them again.

 

Boomerang for Gmail adds a “Send Later” button when you compose a message.

After you install Boomerang for Gmail you will need to refresh your inbox, and then authorize Boomerang to access your Google account.

Note: I use the free version of Boomerang for Gmail. There are paid options but I’ve never felt the need to have that. Thanks to Jeff Bradbury for the reminder! 

Google Classroom
I know Google Classroom isn’t new anymore, but it doesn’t have to be used only with students. Technology coaches can create “classes” for different buildings that are focused on edtech PD, ideas, and resources for teachers to access. If we’re going to be at a particular building working with teachers on a given day, the space for those teachers in Classroom is a quick and easy way to share slides, links, or other materials they need to be an active participant in their learning. It can also be used to create discussion activities and post questions to receive professional development feedback.

A newer feature in Google Classroom that is great for organizing your communication is the ability to create topics. Any type of post you create can be tagged with a particular topic, which will make it easier for teachers to find previous resources you have posted.

Google Forms
Part of being a strong communicator as an edtech coach is making the time to understand your learners’ needs prior to meeting with them; whether that’s 1 teacher or a group of 20 teachers. Creating a Google Form is a great way to do this. Sure, you could email the group and collect replies, but who wants more emails in their inbox? Sending out a quick form as a “needs assessment” is a great way to help you feel more prepared heading into the meeting. The more you know beforehand, the better prepared you’ll be and your teachers will really appreciate the learning being tailored to their needs. Even if your topic isn’t yet decided, a form is a great way to provide teachers with a “menu” of options to seek input and give them a voice in their professional development.

Bonus! Bitmoji for Gmail
Earlier in the post when I mentioned Boomerang for Gmail, you might have noticed in my screenshot that “Bitmoji” Kyle made an appearance. 🙂 If you haven’t delved into the world that is Bitmoji you should definitely check it out. It allows you to create a fun “cartoon” style version of yourself. The Bitmoji Chrome Extension can add some fun to not only your texts but you can insert the Bitmoji version of yourself right into your emails too. If you produce a weekly or monthly edtech newsletter, you can also use the extension to insert your Bitmoji into a Google Doc or Slides presentation too.

 Disclaimer: while Bitmoji is definitely a fun way to communicate there are some that are not school appropriate.

There are certainly lots of other great tools for communication but I wanted to share a few of my favorites that fall under the Google umbrella. What are your favorite communication tools?