5 Essential Technology Tools for Campus Administrators


  • Read Part 1: 5 Essential Technology Tools for Campus Administrators
  • Read Part 2: In this second in a series of three articles on “Five Essential Tools for Campus Administrators," I offer some imperfect responses to the most common questions about blogging.
  • Read Part 3: In this third in a series of three articles on “Five Essential Tools for Campus Administrators," I suggest that R.E.A.C.H. is a way to help schools engage parents, as well as their children, in achieving students’ academic success.

by Miguel Guhlin

“Miguel,” a superintendent in a district I was visiting asked me, “could you develop a CD highlighting the top 5 technology tools to make a principal’s life easier?” I was flabbergasted. A CD? You mean, a compact disc? Who uses those anymore? The ubiquitous web makes it possible to access a wealth of online resources. Sure, a simple CD with free, open source tools would be useful, but there is so much you can do with free, online professional learning tools. As such, my response was simple:
5 Technology tools to make a principal’s life better are not CD—compact disc—based because they are not software. CD-based tech tools wouldn’t go far either since 99% of principals don’t have Active Directory installation rights. Yet, this list provides the opportunity for extended conversations.
But that kind of response does not go too far with a superintendent. You have to highlight solutions, not just counter with problems. Of course, one would want the content to be self-paced and enable administrators to work their way through it as their schedules permit. Here is a short list of topics that could be addressed in the context of a Moodle, which is a course management system. You could just as easily organize this in a wiki but Moodle makes it convenient because of the interactive questionnaire and discussion forums (View screenshot of Moodle).
Although each topic in the Moodle course I organized for the superintendent in question is a face to face class by itself, there are ways to accomplish this course online! You can actually preview one example of an Administrators’ Academy online (login as guest)!
  1. Assessing Technology Implementation in Campus Classrooms
  2. Building Interactivity into Your SlideShow Presentations
  3. Surveys, Forms, and Spreadsheets - Data Collection Made Easy, and, though it’s beyond the scope of this month’s article, these additional items:
  4. Putting Your Best Foot Forward, Online with Blogging and Podcasting
  5. Facilitating Online Learning Conversations with Moodle
Although there are many more technology-related tools that administrators could use, these are some of the ones I have found most useful for campus administrators.
Let’s explore these briefly below:

1 - Assessing Technology Implementation in Campus Classrooms

“Is it possible,” asked the superintendent in my story, “to put together an assessment our principals could take so that we could identify other areas for professional development?” There are a variety of technology assessments that could be used with administrators. Although I definitely endorse the use of Dr. Chris Moersch’s Levels of Technology Implementation (or, the new name which is the Levels of Teacher Innovation), sometimes it is necessary to accomplish your own assessment within the District. Many school districts are forced to report on this data due to No Child Left Behind (NCLB) funds that they use in their district. For the description in the Moodle, I wrote the following:
This short assessment will help you gain insight into areas of strength and weakness, and enable you to better determine what professional learning opportunities you can seek out in the future. It will also help the District prioritize and customize professional learning for you.
For the purposes of the district in question, I adapted a sample technology self-assessment tool from Massachusetts and embedded it—with a few minor modifications—in a Moodle using the Questionnaire module. The Questionnaire module makes it easy to share surveys with staff and collect data, then view that data in graphical format. For example, here is a screenshot of the Massachusetts questions and responses (only 1 just so you get a feel for what it looks like):
external image 20080903-bab28e17q7s7s16mk8iajdyeey.png
In this case, it is important that administrators learn that they can use in-house district tools to gather information. However, it is a simple matter to use other tools as well to collect information. Finding the right assessment is also a matter of finding one that is valid and reliable, not just a series of questions designed by a committee. In those situations, only the LOTI Assessment will do.

2 - Building Interactivity into Your SlideShow Presentations

“How did you add audio to your presentation?” is a question that I often get now when I share narrated presentations with administrators. There are several ways to accomplish that, however, I like to share my favorite top 3 solutions according to degree of difficulty. They all work in essentially the same way: a) You send them your presentation; b) You add audio to your presentation if possible; c) You share the “embed” code on a web page so that the slideshow will play on your campus or district web page.
  1. VoiceThread.com - This is my favorite, free tool to share. VoiceThread enables your viewers to add audio, video and text of their own. What a fantastic way to recognize the work that is being done, and invite recognition of that work done by your staff by others! When working with campus administrators, be sure to share the VoiceThreads4Education.wikispaces.com web site with them. There are a few examples of administrators at the district and campus level sharing their presentations.
  2. MyPlick.com - This is a wonderful tool that allows you to upload your Powerpoint presentation, then, if you have it, send in audio you have recorded. When working with the presentation, you listen to your audio and advance the slide show at the appropriate moment. When you are done, MyPlick actually remembers and when played by a visitor, plays the audio in sync with your presentation slides. Amazing! (Thanks to Steve Dembo at http://teach42.com for this tip!).
  3. Slideshare.net - This is another slideshow sharing tool that I use with great frequency. You can also add audio to Slideshare so that it works in a similar way to MyPlick.com.
There are various other tools available but this is a short list of some great ones.

3 - Surveys, Forms, and Spreadsheets - Data Collection Made Easy

Ever had to collect a lot of information from campuses, wanted to do it electronically but instead ended up with lots of emails flying back and forth with Word or Excel spreadsheet documents attached? And then, someone has to put it all together some way or another? Skip that.
You’ve probably already heard of GoogleDocs and it’s built-in spreadsheet function. You make a spreadsheet, GoogleDocs takes your column headings and makes a form that people can fill out online. When you view the data, it’s already arranged in a spreadsheet. You just send out the web page link to the form, and people fill it out. It once was incredibly difficult for non-techies to do this but now it is very easy, so easy that students are learning how to do it all around the world.
To facilitate your creation of GoogleDocs for information-gathering, set up a GoogleDocs area just for your District’s use. Campus administrators love it because setting up a spreadsheet is something they know how to do, and turning that into a form people can fill out is a cinch with GoogleDocs. One thing you should avoid using GoogleDocs—or any online tool that your District does not host on their own servers—is secure, confidential data. But most of the data campus/district administrators collect is not confidential.
Here is one example of a district using GoogleDocs (login as guest) to collect information. Note the two videos at the top of the page give you an overview of GoogleDocs and how it can be used in K-12 education by students and staff. How to get started and what success looks like:
If you do not want to use Moodle and the Questionnaire Module, consider these 10 alternative online poll/survey sites you can take advantage of, all at no-cost:
Collecting information via the Web has never been easier! Make sure your campus administrators know how to do this.

Conclusion

As you can probably surmise, organizing this content in a Moodle makes it easy to track campus administrator participation, as well as to stay in contact with them. I hope you will take a moment to share your top technology tools for administrators with me via my blog at Around the Corner-MGuhlin.net for inclusion in next month’s installment of this article.