Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Go-to Technologies as an Administrator

Wikispaces home page for Qatar Academy
Of course I am only a rookie, but In my first two months on the job, I have been leaning heavily* on the following technologies:

I've given this meeting scheduling software a real workout because I have set up several meetings which included 6-20 persons.  One can use Doodle to whip up a poll in a couple of minutes, deploy it, and then determine how many persons can attend at the offered times. And they don't have to be using any particular calendar software.  They just click through the link I send them and respond to a simple "poll".   I upgraded ($39) to the paid version without ads, but the free version is great.  I use this once or twice a week with efficient results.

iPad + Notes
Loyal Drive-thru readers may recall that I received my wife's hand-me-down iPad last spring.  I didn't begin using it as a workhorse until I became an administrator.  I take nearly all my meeting notes with it, and the "Notes" application synchs with my desktop, laptop, and iPhone, so it has become indispensable as my number of meetings has increased.

UPad +  Targus StylusiPad 
One of our vendors and I did a walk-through of our school.  We both had iPads, but he was jotting down handwritten notes continually.  When I inquired, he told me about how much he depended on the  inexpensive app, UPad, and his Targus Stylus for jotting notes.  He had tried out different solutions, and was sold on this pairing.  Based on his testimony, I purchased mine the same day and there is no looking back.  Since school started, I often walk the halls during the early morning, chatting with students and staff.  When they make requests or suggestions, I  jot them down on UPad and try to act on them before the day is through.  The advantage of course over a paper notepad is that I never lose or mislay these notes!

I love Wikispaces and keep trying to lure (and yes, drive) teachers to our staff wiki.  There we can share discussions and resources without face-to-face meetings.  This seems like a no-brainer to me. One of my big projects has been a "refresh" of the school's hallways and common areas.  Since June we have had several meetings and discussions both in person and online.  All of this has taken place at the wiki, making this one of the most transparent enterprises I have experienced on a large scale.

While I haven't used Zoomerang surveys as often as the other resources, it has served an extremely important task.  As part of our strategic planning for technology, we surveyed the staff on current usage. Using the "Pro" account purchased by one of our departments, I drafted a survey, submitted it to review, and beta-tested it.  Recently I deployed it.  50 persons responded and I have found that the results are easy to digest and share.  If I need to create another survey, I will definitely use Zoomerang.

* I have not received any form of compensation for using or recommending any of these products.

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