Migrating programs to Google Drive

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Coaching Story: Simcoe County District School Board

Charlotte Parliament is the Literacy and Essential Skills Program Coordinator at Simcoe County District School Board. Responsible for the MAESD learning programs, she is on the move around the county, supporting six learning centres delivering a range of programs. As someone in constant contact with individual instructors and coordinators, Charlotte decided to use AlphaPlus technology coaching services to build a digital program delivery system to complement their online student-learning platform.

Why did you decide to work with an AlphaPlus technology consultant?
Last year we learned our credit students would soon be accessing courses via a web-based platform. They’re no longer going to be using paper-based textbooks or be in a classroom with an instructor. They’re going to be in a classroom on their computer.

For a long time, each program had been using hundreds of USB sticks to help students save files and take them away from class. So after we learned we’d be working from a web-based platform in the future, I started talking about the cloud and how we should be teaching our students using Google Apps. I didn’t know much about it; I just knew it was there and I really wanted to figure out how to use it.

I started trying to learn Google Drive on my own but it wasn’t working. Around that time, I got an email from AlphaPlus asking if we wanted to sign up for technology coaching the next year. I thought it was the perfect time for us. We needed to do this!

When I got the call to talk about what I wanted, the cloud (getting on Google Apps) was the biggest thing for me. I wanted to incorporate it into everything we do — to learn how to use Google Drive not only for our students but also how we could use it in our programs and make sure we’re all comfortable with it.

Describe the training and learning activities you did with your coach.
After the consultations, we scheduled Technology Consultant Monika Jankowska-Pacyna to train our team during a few PD days. She ran a number of different sessions, from the basics of Google Drive all the way to creating and using the custom forms. She also helped us understand the difference between Google Drive and OneDrive, a tool more supported by our school board. To help us teach our students in the future, she directed us to a training site that would help us share our knowledge with students over the long term. It’s hands-on, and the time taken is well worth it for what we’ve learned in our program. There’s no way you can get this from going to a webinar and taking this back to your office and telling yourself you’ll learn how to use it.

Is your team using Google Drive to stay more connected?
Monika helped me implement weekly Google Hangouts with my instructors. This was something I didn’t even know I would be able to do, but we love it. We had tried this in the past but couldn’t figure out what platform would work with everyone’s laptops, tablets and cellphones. Nothing seemed to be compatible with all of them. So now I have a Google Hangout with my instructors once a week to talk about the system and keep the learning going.

What benefits have you noticed so far?
The technology coaching program has really been a benefit to us as a school board program. I know that some organizations will say, “I just don’t have the time as a manager to set aside,” but AlphaPlus has been very flexible, and it only takes a short time every couple of weeks.

The instructors are excited. The technology coaching sessions and support made them ready to share what they learned with the students. This is also important for our students who are going to go home and use a tablet or smartphone. With this cloud-based system, they can save a file and they can create or edit a Google document right on their tablet or laptop without having to pay for (or navigate) MS Office. So that’s a huge improvement, and it makes sure they’re ready and they know how to use the platform when they go into a credit program or an office. And we’re saving money on USB sticks!

Tell us about your next steps.
With this, you’re actually learning how to use technology. I’ve benefitted because Monika has been able to share with me the things that other organizations in the province are working on. So I get to learn from our changes but also what others are creating. We’re sharing the documents and to me, that has been a huge benefit.
Learn more about our technology coaching services or to sign up, contact Alan Cherwinski.

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