Saturday, June 16, 2012

Summer Staff Training Here We Come

Summer time brings about thoughts of grilling out, time on the lake, and sleeping in for most.  However, for technology staff like me it also means the busiest time of the year.  We have roughly a thousand devices to re-image and configure over the next two and a half months, new software to implement, four summer programs to support, and if that wasn’t enough there is always the summer training for staff.  In our district we specifically ask our teachers and staff what type of training they are looking for and then go out and try to schedule what we can.  This summer I am particularly looking forward to a week of training, creation, and specifically integration of our iOS devices throughout the district.  Everyone will be coming together from Kindergarten through second grade, middle school teachers, special education, and even a few high school teachers to plan, dream, and really figure out how we can take our successful 1:1 iOS Program and make it even more effective.  Stay tuned for more information on this week in early August.

However, for staff that do not have iOS devices we also will be running a variety of training sessions throughout the summer.  We have done this a number of times before and have even used Google Forms for them to register.  Then to confirm their registration and send reminders we send out text messages to the staff.  Our principal had the idea roughly a year and a half ago to begin communicating with staff during the summer in a way that would be appropriate and easy for them – text messages.  They wouldn’t have to login it to their school email account and the messages would be kept short.  So far this process has worked out really well and we look forward to communicating with our families via text message more this fall.  Staff can never get enough training though so we are consistently reaching out and trying to find methods and ways for them to learn things on their schedule.

One way of solving this problem is through video tutorials.  As a school district we invested in a large video tutorial library through a third party a year ago, but then we decided after our one year review that not enough of our staff watched the videos to justify the cost we were paying.  Yes, we maybe could have done a better job implementing them into our environment, but we were also up against a staff that is stretched thin already and asking them to watch video tutorials in their free time seemed a bit silly.  So instead we are moving to create an in-house video tutorial library of important things staff need to know.  For instance: how to check your email, how to submit your grades, where the purchase requests can be found, and who to call when you have a technology problem.  All of these videos will be housed in the Videos app as part of our Google Apps for Education Suite.  The majority of them will be private and not viewable to the public, but all our staff will be able to access them with a click of a button.  It will be nice, slick, and a lot cheaper than our third party solution.  Probably the best part about this solution is that the content we create can be directed specifically for our staff.

However, every once in a while an opportunity to assist with staff development comes up and it is just to good to pass up on.  Such was the case when Tyler Hellemann (@MrHellmann), a cohort member from my UNI Masters Degree Program, sent me a message asking if I wanted to help him create a Google Form video.  Of course I agreed and we set off creating a collaborative document with an outline and parts of the script.  We decided early on that we wanted to complete the presentation together, but then after looking around and trying a variety of different tools we decided it would be easier to just film it separately and then put the two pieces together.  So that’s exactly what we did.  He used Screencast-o-Matic to capture the audio and video on his end, exported it, and then sent it to me.  I used Jing Pro to capture my audio and video, exported it, and then dropped both pieces into iMovie.  After a little tinkering we came up with this video:

Clearly this video isn’t going to win us an Oscar or Emmy anytime soon, but the content about how to use a Google Form hopefully got across.  We thought it did and that’s why we will be using this video during our summer and fall technology trainings at our respective schools.

Please enjoy this time of year – whether you are imaging computers, training staff, or hanging out on the lake – because summer is here!