Sunday, May 22, 2011

Part A - A Need or Opportunity

Part A – A Need or Opportunity

The Need or Opportunity
The important educational need that I am seeking to address is that due to financial restrictions, my school district will be searching for a MS Office compatible free ware program to replace the more pricey (over $45 per computer) MS Office that we have had in the past. Since the district has already piloted Open Office and has not cared for what it can provide for its students and teachers, they are still on the lookout for what to use when the new Macs and PCs are installed this summer. This need for an Office compatible freeware program is what has driven me to find a solution to this problem with the growingly popular Google Docs.

Technology used to Address the Need
The technology I have chosen to address this need is Google Docs. Google Docs is an online word processor, spreadsheet, form, drawing, and presentation tool that allows the user to “Create and share your work online and access your documents from anywhere. Manage documents, spreadsheets, presentations, surveys, and more all in one easy location” (Google). The reason I chose Google Docs is because of its user friendly interface, accessibility to teachers, students, and parents, as well as, and probably most importantly, the fact that it is free. The only thing it requires is that the users have a Google account. The Google account can be created through Gmail (Google’s email client) or through another email linked to Google.

Greenville Public Schools, if they chose to implement the use of Google Docs would begin implementation in the 2011-2012 school year. There would need to be several supports in place in order to make using Google Docs in the classroom a success. First of all, students would need to register for a Google account. This could pose some problems, because from what my research tells me, users need to be 13 years of age before they have access to a Google account. This could be different for educational settings, however, I would need to continue my research to solve this problem. Students could then potentially have the same Google account for their entire high school and middle school career. Classroom teachers and/or technology teachers in the building would need to provide instruction to students on how to use Google docs, as it is different from MS Office in a few ways. They would especially need explicit training on how to use the peer editing functions and share functions. In the past, my district has used My Access, an online writing prompt scoring and editing tool. Again, due to financial restrictions, this will be taken away, so Google Docs would (and could easily) replace this program with proper instruction on its use. With the variety of uses, Google Docs would be used across the district in multiple grade levels, buildings, classrooms and computer labs.

Research and Resources
Some difficulty I had with the research of my product was that because Google is so engrained into the internet, many of the sources I found were sponsored by Google itself. Because of this, I didn’t feel that I could get a very subjective review of Google docs. My searches had to be very specific, and needed to include both videos and regular research. Here are a few websites I found to be helpful:

Getting Started with Google Docs in the Classroom - ProfHacker - The Chronicle of Higher Education

UsingGoogleDocsintheclassroom.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Google Docs in the Classroom | Clif's Notes

Improving School Communication with Google | Edutopia

Plan for Implementation
With the school year winding down, it will be difficult to implement my project with students, as I feel it will take a significant amount of time to get accounts set up for all of them since that would need to be something approved by the district. Because of this, I plan to implement the teacher usage portion first to see how that goes before I branch it out to the students.

As team leader this year, I have to send out a weekly agenda to the team of teachers that I work with. Many times, this is something that is edited multiple times before we come up with a final agenda. I would like to create the team agenda in Google Docs, then send out the link to this document to my team. Then, when they have something to add, it gets added to the agenda and we can print the final draft before the first meeting on Monday morning. With the time constraints that we have (only one full week left) I feel that this will be a reasonable implementation to complete, and will give the teachers who could potentially be using this product next year a “crash course” in how to use it.

Indicators of Success
I will know that my implementation has been successful if all of my team members are able to edit the document I have sent out, and then all those edits are contributed to the final document. Some instruction will be needed, but hopefully this will be able to happen without much side by side guiding.


  1. Hi Stacy!

    We are in similar situations as the school year is quickly coming to an end! As I started to read your Wicked Problem, I began to also think about the constraints you might have in regards to district rules for student use through an e-mail program. I am curious what “solution” the district has developed if they do not want to provide any programs. I think your project could definitely have a huge impact amongst faculty, even if the district says no for student use. At least you could still share lessons and agendas as a faculty through these programs.

    Due to time constraints, I think your implementation seems reasonable. You obviously cannot try any student e-mails until rules are established about permission for students to use or not use the e-mail program. You mentioned sharing an agenda with your team teachers. By any chance does your team also collaboratively share lesson plans? You could also use Google Docs near the end of this school year to see how collaboration of lesson plans works also. I don’t think you NEED to do more than one thing, but it is an option if you wanted it.

    I can tell that you got several resources for your project, however, I did notice that the links do not work for the resources. That is an easy fix. :) At some point, you might want to mention specifically how these resources support your use of Google Docs in the work world.

    I think you have a good start! If I think of further things I will let you know! Good job!

  2. Stacy,

    Go to: Or simply Google, "Google Apps for Education." At my school we have Gmail accounts for teachers and students through Google Apps for Education. Pass this on to the "powers that be" so that they can set up this free and amazing tool. Additionally, this will help with the issue of age.

    It may be beneficial to create a list of what your district wants out of a word processing program. The nice part about Google Docs is that it continues to change and get better...

    Looking forward to seeing you take a leadership role in technology at your school.


  3. Stacy,

    I too was thinking of mentioning the same idea to my district because it would be easier for teachers to communicate with students at all times and students can simply email their projects to themselves or use the online features and never have to worry about a flashdrive or figuring out how to get the project from your home to school.

    Just like Chuck suggested, you can actually create a google platform for your school that gives out a google email to each student and faculty. My last semester of college my school switched to that and my schools logo is in the upper left corner, I honestly didn't even realize it was a google email as the ending is

    The other advantage is that I was able to keep the email address even after I graduated. However, a difference I have found from other regular gmail accounts is that on my school account I only have the mail, calendar, and documents options at the top of the screen. I was able to get into the other features such as the google reader using that email address but I had to get onto it separately. I don't know if that is the same for Chuck in his experience, but its something to keep in mind.

    Overall, I think that there is a lot of potential for this product and that all schools should be going to this. I can't wait to find out how it worked for you!


  4. Hi Stacy,
    My school switched our faculty email accounts to Google this year and it has been a wonderful change for all of us. I, too, was surprised to see that we could use gmail and still retain our district email address. It has been great to be able to collaborate with other teachers using Google Docs. I think it will certainly help you achieve the goals you had set for your school. That is news to me that through Google Apps for Education student emails can also be set up. I wonder why my school didn't implement that as well. Good luck with adding gmail to your faculty/students. I think it will make a world of difference with the ease in which you are all able to collaborate!