Using Technology to Support Your PLC

This July I’ll be leading a technology strand at the CLMS/CLHS Summer Institute featuring Richard and Rebecca DuFour. Following the DuFours on Sunday I’ll be speaking to the general session on the topic of “Using Technology to Support Your PLC.” Then, I’ll be following that up with five hands-on bring your own laptop (BYOL) sessions the next day (and we should have 20 laptops on hand for those who need them). I’m excited about the opportunity to speak to a large group of educators who may never attend an educational technology conference, and to actually help some of them get started using the tools I’ll introduce. I’m sharing this here because I suspect others might be interested in this topic, and these descriptions might be helpful in your own planning. It might also spark conversation in the comments below… and of course, if you’re interested in bringing me to your school, district, or event to speak (or lead workshops) on these same topics, I’d be thrilled:


Using Technology to Support Your PLC: An 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.


Technology And Your PLC: Collaboration With 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.

Technology and PLCs: Data Collection with 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.

Technology and PLCs: Search, Learn, and Share with Even More Google

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.

Technology and PLCs: Building Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)

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.

The League Learning Network

Join us during this final session and see how to extend your summer institute experience online when you leave! CLMS and CLHS have set up an online social network for educators. Learn how to join and how you can collaborate with a statewide community. Discover and share blog posts, pictures, videos, and more. Participate in groups and discussion forums – and keep informed about the latest news and events. Best of all, meet and converse with like minded colleagues – all in the new League Learning Network.

I’d also love to hear from anyone who thinks I’ve missed something, misrepresented anything, or otherwise failed to make the most of this opportunity to speak to middle and high school teachers who might not ever attend a technology conference. So let me know if you have questions or suggestions related to these descriptions – I’d happily credit any contributions (or challenges to my own views) when I share this material.

And if you’d like to actually register for the summer institute in Indian Wells, Ca to participate in these sessions, please do. I’d love to see some of you there.

If you do register for the summer institute, you’ll also be eligible to register for a free webinar I’ll be hosting on July 15 (focused on using Google Docs with a PLC).

Finally, if you’re a middle or high school English teacher, you can join the League Learning Network for FREE regardless of whether or not you are attending the summer institute. I hope to see you online!