Archive for July, 2010

Tech Support System 2.0

Our technology department just launched our new tech support request system and we built it all with Google free tools. We provided our users with two options to submit a tech support request. The first option is to leverage our Google Apps Edu infrastructure using Google Forms. We created a simple Google Form that asked for information and detailed messages about the tech support issue. It automatically retrieves their account information and populates a Google Spreadsheet shared with my technology team.

If the tech support issue is not being able to access the Internet, we provided our users with a Google Voice number to submit a request. We established a Google Voice local number that users can call to drop a message. Google Voice is feature rich and it allowed us to move away from a virtual PBX solution. Users call the number, leave a voicemail and Google Voice transcribes the message and sends an email to my technology team. It also keeps a voice record of all our submitted tech support requests.

Just another way to reduce the costs of information technology in K12. Drop a comment if you want more specifics. @franze98 has also another great alternative that integrates with Google Apps Edu called eStreamDesk.


Why my PLN uses Google Apps?

July 9, 2010 4 comments

I am launching Google Apps across seven schools this summer and asked my education PLN to help provide reasons why they use Google Apps? Thank you to all the valuable PLN members on Twitter for providing this amazing list! Keep the responses coming, I will continually update this list.

  • @pmcash Students create a folder for a course/teacher. Store all work in the folder, teacher has access, no need to share each item.
  • @kelalford I use Google Docs for myself to be able to collaborate with other teachers. Want to try to introduce third graders this year.
  • @kelalford we use it to create grade level tests.
  • @dmantz7 I like using Google Apps for Education because it can be integrated into Moodle. Also add Creately (mind mapping) to GAE domain.
  • @jenroberts1 5 ways I use docs in an English class and 5 tips to make that easier:
  • @techmunoz #edtech I love google apps–forms, because it makes it so easy to create a quick assessment that you can embed or email 2 stdnts.
  • @soltauheller we use googledocs to create surveys then to look at graphs that are produced – we can send the link to anyone we like
  • @soltauheller have also used it to do collaborative unit planning with other teachers
  • @bandlady All my students use google docs & presentations; so easy to share #edchat #edtech
  • @coreygin Some reasons for Google apps: Simple, accessible, available anywhere anytime using any computer. And best of all: Free!
  • @oh_the_places Used Gdoc for students to write collaborative letters – requesting info/decision from principal, parent letters, etc.
  • @mtrump Too many ways to list in 140 characters
  • @shfarnsworth #edtech #edchat – communal lesson plans that all teachers, study hall teachers, subs, at-risk teachers can access on google docs!
  • @pughamy accessible, collaborative, community of resources #edchat #edtech #googleapps
  • @pmcash Use anywhere, collaboration, FREE #edtech#edchat
  • @jasonschimdt123 I want it for the communication and collaboration tools. I use GApps in my class, spoof it with a class email acct.
  • @doremigirl Project assessment; teachers using GDoc to brainstorm curr ideas, sharing folders for diff classes GSites 4 Ss
  • @wmchamberlain cloud based is nice, plenty of apps that allow them to be worked on locally too. Easy to share and collaborate with.
  • @mtrump I share several G-calendars out of many with key people so they know if I’m in meetings or PD, etc. Integrates w/ Outlook Cal. if needed.
  • @mtrump And collaborative editing on G-Docs = priceless! Teachers use for PLC planning….
  • @mtrump Also use G-forms for instant surveys and assessment of classes/school/district. See the forms on – they link to SSheet
  • @thnorfar editing collaboratively-google apps
  • @franze98 1 thing i liked over exchange (besides cost) was the more granular options for e-mail groups
  • @marcellarepp I love igoogle-It is a great, quick way to organize all my websites I enjoy&areas that I want to keep connected with everyday.
  • @carolgau Google docs – st collaborate and create rubrics, st make presentations for class
  • @ariellehg multiple students take notes in a google doc using different colors focusing on different things ie: numbers, vocab, stories…
  • @rosengo I have students use Google Pres for collaborative Socials presentations about Mesopotamia and Early Homonids. #edchat #edtech
  • @MrA47 I use google docs with my students to go paperless. We are creating spreadsheets now and charting survey results
  • @rkiker I use all the Google Tools b/c of simplicity, reliability, global access,and collaboration. Not sure why I wouldn’t use them.

Here are my reasons why I use Google Apps in K12 Education:

  • Unified communication for all staff members using tools such as video chat, email, docs, wikis, and shared calendars.
  • Growing list of available apps through Google Marketplace.
  • Empowering users to contribute to the knowledge database using sites and docs.
  • Access anywhere and anytime.
  • Postini services provides strong mail filtering capabilities.
  • Uses Google search engine for all our applications. Simpler to find information and hard to find emails.
  • No servers to manage.
  • Scalability of users is simple.
  • Capability to combine multiple domains under one management interface. Schools can separate teacher and student domains.
  • Google Docs editing on the go using mobile technologies is now available.
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Thoughts About K12 Education Information Technology

July 3, 2010 6 comments
Below is a compilation of my #EduIT thoughts from years serving in K12 education infrastructures. The role of the technology department is continuing to evolve, and with the rapid growth of edtech in K12 schools, it is important to understand everyone’s role (teachers, IT, admins) in the success of technology deployment  This opinionated post will continue to evolve and I welcome other technology administrators & teachers to participate in this ongoing discussion about education information technology.
  • K12 information technology is NOT enterprise IT.
  • Successful technology departments are not troubleshooting day-to-day tech support tickets, but rather empowering users and providing structured professional development.
  • The more technology proficient our K12 users are, the less tech support tickets are submitted.
  • When I am focused more on educational technology, I know information technology is doing its job.
  • Putting technology in the classroom without proper professional development = money squandered.
  • Just paying for tech support = adding more cost down the road. Tech support must combine with professional development, technology vision and strategic technology planning for successful integration.
  • EdTech specialists should evolve to learn and experience aspects of information technology.
  • IT administrators should observe classrooms and understand the needs of our teachers.
  • “Geeked-Out” teachers + “Education-Minded” IT admins = Happy Medium!
  • Content filtering is a must when dealing with federal dollars…but that doesn’t mean IT shouldn’t listen to their teachers about what you block. Both sides should be knowledgeable about CIPA.
  • Responsible management of equipment by our teachers will go a long way to preserving the technology while lending a hand to the IT department.
  • When purchasing technology, don’t forget their is a total cost of ownership which adds maintenance, warranty, training, and support costs.
  • 250:1 workstation to desktop support technician is what I have seen typically in K12. But I have heard cases of 600:1…yikes! In comparison, a typical corporate enterprise would have a 25-50:1 ratio.
  • Flexible desktop virtualization & cloud computing will save costs down the road while providing teachers content for engaging educational technology.
  • Technology departments should be one of the models for 21st century learning. We need to empower our users to be constant learners, collaborators, and innovators.
  • Majority of tech support tickets are user errors. I have even been told up to 80% by other technology administrators.
  • The more we open our technology infrastructure to our users, the more important digital citizenship becomes a key component.
  • When offering technology professional development, remember The Boiling Frog Syndrome metaphor.
  • It is possible for a teacher to run the technology infrastructure of a school. I know many teachers who take on this role.
  • Provide technology tools and avenues to empower users to share information and collaborate.
  • The skill of patience is a necessity when supporting diverse groups of users. Don’t make assumptions about technology use, there are diverse experiences and attitudes towards technology.
  • Implementing changes in technology requires thorough planning and strategy when dealing with such a diverse user base.
  • Even when you are confident that change in technology is better in the long the run, there tends to be a resistance to change that dampers the process. One needs to be build a thick skin when making school-wide technology changes. Keep pushing forward and try to win the few resistors over.
  • Not all users will read your first email or update, differentiate how you disseminate technology changes to the staff.
  • Tech support is a thankless job.
  • When users are not hollering, is it safe to assume there are no tech support issues? “All Quiet in the Western Front” or should tech support be worried that it is too quiet.
  • “I didn’t get the email” = “you didn’t read the email”
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