Free Technology to Support PLCs

Little or no time to collaborate with colleagues? Take your professional learning community (PLC) to the next level by using powerfully simple and free online tools!

Google Docs: Using Free Technology to Support Your PLC (Original PDF Flyer)

Part 1 - Overview

Take your professional learning community to the next level by using powerfully simple online tools for collaborating with colleagues. Learn how new technologies can help your professional learning community access information, capture the conversation, and focus communication. Extend the conversation online with powerful two-way communication tools, and discover the power of reaching outside the PLC for new innovations by building an online personal learning network (PLN). This session includes an overview of powerful search techniques, document sharing tools, data collection (and analysis) software, social networking services, and much more that you can share with your entire staff when you return to your site. Best of all, everything you’ll learn about is free.

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Welcome Activity
  • How are you currently using technology to support your PLC?
  • How do you wish you could use technology to support your PLC?
  • How would you like to see some free tools that make a real impact? ;)

Anecdotes and Analogies
  • A Message From The Future
  • The Students (of The Future)
  • PLCs and Driving a Race Car

Professional Learning Communities
  • Access Information
  • Capture The Conversation
  • Focused Communication
  • Collaboration

Web 1.0
  • Powerful resource for educators and students, but…
  • Information moves from publishers to consumers
  • Information cannot be edited
  • Read-Only Web
  • One-Way Web

Web 2.0
  • It is now as easy to create as it is to consume.
  • Anyone can publish, share, and change information
  • Read/Write Web
  • Two-Way Web
  • This is changing our world!

And an overview of the following sections...

Part 2 - Google Docs

Google Docs is an online office suite that allows you to create, edit, share, and publish documents, including spreadsheets and presentations. Because everything is stored and even modified on the web, Google Docs makes it easy to collaborate with colleagues - and even to edit the same document from multiple computers simultaneously. This session will focus on the use of Google Docs to promote and support collaboration within a PLC, including strategies for creating common assessments, sharing best practices, and capturing the conversation - even between meetings. This one tool can revolutionize the way your PLC collaborates. And it’s free.

Intro Discussion
  • Do you have a Google Account?
  • Have you used Google Docs before?
  • Could you explain Google Docs to a colleague?
  • What do you hope to get out of today's workshop?

What is Google Docs?

Interactive Overview (with Links to Help Pages):
  • Documents (A few volunteers can join me in a new document.)
  • Presentations (A few volunteers can join me in a new presentation.)
  • Spreadsheets (A few volunteers can join me in a new spreadsheet.)

Activity: How can Google Docs be used to extend your PLC online?
  • Login to Google Docs
    • If you have a Google Account, enter your username and password. Then click Sign In. (Note: Gmail is automatically a Google Account.)
    • Click on "Get Started" if you need to create a Google Account first! (Note: You can sign up using any email account that you can check online... you might just want to use your work email.)
  • Create a new document, presentation, or spreadsheet to illustrate your answer.
  • Add colleagues as collaborators.
  • Mock up a "proof-of-concept" to illustrate something you might actually implement. Examples include:
    • Using a document for shared assessments, lesson plans, meeting minutes, or other resources.
    • Using a presentation for shared materials - or presenting data.
    • Using a spreadsheet for sharing and analyzing data.
  • Add me as a collaborator: (I'll share with the large group.)

  • Consider specific things you learned that you would like to implement in the coming school year. What are your next steps? And what do you still have to learn?
  • Reply to the "How can you use Google Docs to support your PLC?" forum discussion.

Part 3 - Google Forms

Google Forms allow users to quickly and easily create an online form that feeds collected data directly into a shared spreadsheet. This is a powerful way for members of a PLC to collect the data needed to make informed decisions about instruction, best practice, and other matters related to the school or community. Forms can be used for polls, surveys, and evaluations - or for collecting event registration data, WASC evidence, and best practices. A Google Form can even be used to create online common assessments that, with a little ingenuity, can also be self-grading. Unlike many similar services, Google Forms is free - a feature of the Google Docs online office suite.

  • What are Google Forms?
  • And what do they allow you to do?

Interactive Overview (with Link to Help Pages):
  • Forms (Everyone can complete a demo form - see below...)

Activity 1: Who are we?
  • No Google account is required!
  • Complete this demo survey.
  • View the results.
  • Demonstration: View summary.
  • Demonstration: Create and publish a chart.
  • Demonstration: Self Grading Quiz (Your answer to the last question on the survey will be graded!)
  • Are you ready to see how to create, edit, and collaborate on specific PLC documents? (Grin or Frown?)

Activity 2: Create a Form for Data Collection, Analysis, and Sharing
  • Create a form for collecting data. Examples include:
    • A Teacher (or Student) Observation Form
    • A WASC Data Collection Form
    • An Awards Nomination Form
    • A Professional Development Evaluation
    • A Staff or Community Survey
    • A PLC Team Meeting Form
      • Attendance
      • Team Smart Goal
      • Strategies and Action Steps
      • Responsibilities
      • Timeline
      • Evidence of Effectiveness
    • Advanced: A Self-Grading Quiz
  • Mock up a "proof-of-concept" to illustrate something you might actually implement.
  • Send the "live form" link to colleagues so they can fill out your form.
  • Share the results with colleagues or publish them as a web page.
  • Optional: Create (and publish) charts of the results.
  • Are you ready to move on? (Grin or Frown?)
    • Time permitting we can view more samples...
    • Or create a self-grading quiz...
    • Or talk about using Google Docs with a mobile device.

CHALLENGE Activity: Create a self-grading common assessment! (Time permitting)
  • Create a three question quiz using a Google Form.
  • Solicit sample answers from some colleagues.
  • Create an IF formula for each question to "grade" the question. (Each IF formula needs to be in a new column.)
  • Fill Down so that the IF formulas you've written can "grade" all the responses at once!
  • Advanced: Create a SUM formula to total up the total score for each person that took the quiz. Then create another formula to calculate the percentage. Finally, create a nested IF formula to convert the percentages to letter grades!
  • Time Permitting: Share your quiz with me so I can share with the large group.

More Sample Uses of Google Docs Forms (for Administrators)


Part 4 - Even More Google

(Time Permitting)

Google produces a number of free tools that can help members of a PLC access information, collaborate remotely, and be more productive as a team. Specialized search and custom search help a PLC locate and share timely research. Google Reader and the iGoogle homepage help aggregate and process more information quickly and easily. Google Calendar and Google Groups help with organization and creating a sense of community online. Google Talk connects distant classrooms or buildings, and mobile applications teachers and administrators take all of this on the go... as they walk the halls or chaperone field trips. This fast-paced session explores many of these tools and helps participants know how to get started with the tools they most want to use with their own PLC.

Note: This session is more of an overview than the others today... it is designed to share several new tools. Feel free to follow along through the demonstrations, but don't worry about trying to do everything I do. Time will be given at the end to allow you to pursue one tool in a more hands-on manner.

  • Pre-assessment: How many of you use the tools we'll go over today? (I'll rattle off a list...)
  • How many of you would like new tools that can help you save time, encourage collaboration, and access your data anywhere? :)

Access Information

Aggregate Information
  • Google Reader
    • Have trouble keeping up with the sites you visit?
    • Read them in one place with Google Reader, where keeping up with your favorite websites is as easy as checking your email.
    • Subscribe to the updates that are important to you!
  • iGoogle
    • Create your own homepage in under 30 seconds.
    • Add the gadgets that you will use!
    • And have fun personalizing your page. ;)

Create and Organize Community
  • Google Calendar
    • See the big picture.
    • Share events and calendars.
    • Stay on schedule - and up to date.
  • Google Groups
    • Discuss online or over email.
    • Create rich, custom pages.
    • Customize your look and graphics.
  • Google Talk
    • See real-time availability and status of colleagues online.
    • Send instant text messages.
    • Easily go from text to voice or video chat.
    • Chat right from your desktop (Windows Only) or from Gmail (.

Mobile Access to Data
  • Google SMS - Search by text message! (Just text a search to 466453)
  • Google 411 - Free 411 directory assistance calls!
  • Google Mobile - More Google Apps available for smart phones.

  • Consider specific things you learned that you would like to implement in the coming school year. What are your next steps? And what do you still have to learn?
  • Join the League Learning Network the CLMS & CLHS online social network.
  • Start a discussion about the tool you want to learn about!

Part 5 - Personal Learning Networks

(Time Permitting)

Personal learning is one of the foundations of a successful PLC - and an element of any successful organizational change effort. This session focuses on tools that can be used by any member of a PLC to build their own Personal Learning Network (PLN), which can not only support their own professional development but can also be an efficient means of diffusing innovation within the PLC. Learn to connect with a community of like minded professionals, make contributions, have conversations, and make requests in your times of need. Powerful free tools such as Twitter and Ning make this possible.

  • Who makes up your learning network?

PLNs and PLCs
  • Extend your PLC online.
  • Create a permeable PLC.
  • Encourage diffusion of innovation.

Learning to Network & Networking to Learn
  • Make Connections
  • Make Contributions
  • Make Conversation
  • Make Requests


Getting Started

  • How do you plan to expand your learning network?

More Links and Resources

Google Docs Mass Uploader - I had this tool made to allow anyone to upload multiple files at once!

Overview of CIPA, COPPA, and FERPA

Evaluation and Contact Information

Online Evaluation

Mark Wagner, Ph.D.
Educational Technology Coordinator
California League of Schools (CLMS/CLHS/CLES)
6621 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 210, Long Beach, CA 90803
MarkWagnerIM (AIM)
markdwagner (Skype)
markwagner (Twitter)