Thanks to Matthew J. for reminding me to write this post. As the school year begins, I have suffered a viral attack on my Dell. Fortunately, I know Matthew, who seems to understand Skynet precursors like my machine. In discussing at-risk data, I noted that I had various Google Docs, but a great number of Microsoft Office documents as well. Software. I find it. I use it. The Google Docs live safely in the cloud, but Office documents lurk like barnacles in the Dell unless I deliberately put them in the cloud.
Matthew and I discussed Google Docs briefly. Google Docs don’t work like Office documents. Shared documents can become real headaches as new Google Doc users move, share and delete documents without understanding that the whole school just lost the new lesson plan template, right before the whole district received Ms. Connor’s Revolutionary War lesson plans for the week. I have lived through numerous examples of Google Docs running amok. Please see my “Refrigerators and data” post of 9/14/14 for more details. Or search the blog archives for Google Docs.
Eduhonesty: I would like to suggest that any readers who manage professional development (PD) or who work closely with PD planners should try to schedule a Google Docs PD for new teachers. Teachers may wish to suggest this PD to their administration. Older, new teachers often lack previous experience with Google Docs. Many experienced teachers may benefit from a Google Doc training/refresher as well. Because Google Docs are shared, mistakes rebound through the whole sharing community. Time loss from Google Doc mistakes can be considerable. I can’t count how many times colleagues came in to ask me to help them find Google Docs last year.
District security will be improved by teaching the fundamentals of Google Docs as well. My district has deactivated my user account since I retired last spring, but I still have these eight and eighteen page lesson plans that I printed a few days ago.* I can reach many documents through what I suppose one might call back doors. Privacy issues loom large here. Even if my colleagues merely feel aggravated, as a blogger, I may find Ms. Connor’s lesson plan intriguing. I shouldn’t have access to that document, however. Sharing occurs by mistake or poor design too often.
A Google Docs PD should be put on district calendars early in the year. Google Docs are easy to half-understand, easy to use correctly most of the time, and are becoming steadily more pervasive in education. Teachers and school districts should learn the small details that can prevent “roaming” data and privacy breaches. We need to lasso these free-range Google Docs.
*I don’t want readers to think I am busy trying to sneak into school documents. I tried my old email address, discovered I had been inactivated and was then curious as to what Google Docs had been blocked. I found some to be inaccessible and others not. My limited access seems somewhat haphazard. In any case, I always change names and small details. I made up Ms. Connor, for example.
The total number of pages in those lesson plans I printed was accurately relayed, however.