When I started teaching, one of my colleagues told me, “If you want to start a revolution, make sure you’ve got the office staff on your side.”
That wisdom has come in handy as I try to make Google Apps the standard office suite on the campus.
After all, one of the most frustrating things is knowing you have a good idea and wishing others would quickly realize it for themselves. I mean, come on, already!
It’s not that progress has been bad. After our first year, about 75 percent of students prefer Google Apps to create documents, although most still haven’t migrated over to their new Gmail account. Students love that they don’t have to worry about losing their work and that they can collaborate with others much more easily than with Microsoft Office.
Predictably, however, the adults have been less open to switching. Despite workshops, encouragement, and fanfare for those who try Google Docs, the majority of staff have remained Office users.
It takes time to break bad habits, right?
So my latest effort has been with the office staff. After all, the people in the school who control all the information control how people access that information.
I’m happy to report that today, there were two epiphanies:
- The Registrar uploaded the student directory, up until now on Excel, to Google Docs. Now teachers can view the spreadsheet but only she can make changes. No more mailing and remailing attachments to teachers over email!
- The School Secretary converted the principal’s parent letter to Google Docs. She was giddy with excitement. “There’s only one copy! There’s only one copy!” Indeed.
These stories may sound small to a serious Google Apps user, but it’s this kind of progress — bit by bit — that makes something spread across a campus. Besides, if I have the office staff on board, anything’s possible.
Although Google Docs by no means has gone “viral” — whatever that means — I’m happy to say that we’re getting there, and I’m hoping big things will happen this school year.