I have seen many recent posts about “getting back to work” or “what are your goals this year”. Personally I subscribe to the process of SMART goal setting and Professional Learning Communities, but that is not what this article is about. In the old days (8 years ago) I would meet with my staff and we would look at Provincial and Divisional goals as well as our own personal goals, and try to assemble three or four school goals which would be meaningful to our students, school and community. Then we would write them down and put them in a folder (paper) which we would dust off and revisit a few times a year, then write a review to submit to the province at the end of the year, but that is not what this is about.
Technology has allowed me to coordinate the efforts of my staff by providing them with shared spaces like wiki’s, google docs, and OneNote, where they can work synchronously, and asynchronously to share ideas, plan and reflect on their goals. It allows for a truly green document to emerge and grow as staff members feel true ownership of their activities. They, my staff, own the space they own the goals, and they can work on their school goals any time they please, with one another or in isolation asynchronously.
My current preference is for OneNote at the moment, which is a Microsoft product, but we have the licence and it was included in our image so why not use it. I have used Wiki’s in the past, in specific PBWIKI, which was great as it allowed archiving of ideas, and a shared space to create, organize and share. I began using OneNote for staff meetings and found out accidentally that it had the capability to synchronously allow others to collaborate, it was a great feeling and my staff were excited. We had just been given divisional laptops and everyone had access to the same file on or divisional network so as I was discussing items, some teachers were reading ahead and adding comments or information for others to read. It was much more efficient than creating a word document and emailing it, assigning a secretary and then resending the document. The days of “versioning” and lost files were over. We could reflect together about past staff meetings, search the entire directory of staff meetings and even contribute to staff meeting notes before they occurred. If staff were absent they could read the file when they got back and even write comments.
Now as excited as I am about OneNote My personal preference is for Google Documents when it comes to organizing and sharing for many reasons. The advantage of using Google Documents is that the information lies in the cloud, and as such is available anywhere and virtually on any modern device. However due to limitations of policy and fears about data ownership I have decided to keep our activities on OneNote for now.