A couple of days ago, I crossed over the 10 month threshold of my job as the Director of Enhanced-Technology Instruction (TEI) for Jamestown Community College. Since I joined JCC, the TEI team has been working through a number of applications and processes to find the best fit for our faculty and their needs. I thought I would take a moment to share what we are doing.
When working out tools to use, it had to fit two major criteria items; it had to be cheap/free and work in the cloud. The tools we are using are Mailchimp, Insight.ly, WordPress, Asana, and Google everything. Our processes focus on two major areas: keeping our team on track and providing support to faculty.
Keeping Team on Track
Each Monday, we have a team meeting that lasts about one hour, and we work through our agenda that is built in Asana. The agenda has weekly standing topics, and we add additional topics as they arise. Since one member is working remotely in Olean, we use Google Hangouts to make the call and I share my screen. From this agenda, we pull up our other tools to discuss them. Here is an example of our standing agenda:
Rolling out a new term is a huge task with a lot of moving parts. A number of the tasks must be completed before the first day of classes. Once the term starts, there are a number of additional tasks that we must ensure we are tracking. Each week in the team meeting, we look at where we are in the master checklist and what we must do. The master checklist is built using Google Sheets.
Project Priority List
Stealing an idea from Google, we put together a project priority list with Google Sheets so we could keep track of all our great ideas. It is a source of tasks that each team member can take on to help move the program forward. In the book, How Google Works, the authors indicated that Google kept a simple spreadsheet to track their 100 ongoing projects.
OKRs or Objectives and Key Results are another tool we stole from Google. According to How Google Works, each employee must identify 3-5 objectives they are going to focus on during each quarter. At the end of the quarter, the teams grade each others attainment of the goals. We create our OKRs on a semester basis. It is helping to get a lot of projects completed.
The One Thing
With so much to do, I am interest in my team’s priorities. Taking a lesson from The ONE Thing, I ask each member to focus on one task until it is completed. For example, my ONE thing is to complete the Tools and Methods section for our Website. Reviewing the ONE Things is a good time to talk about any help they may need. This is identified in Asana as part of our team meeting, and it is listed on the Project Priority List.
In Google, we developed a communication plan to help us ensure that we are sending out the right messages at the right time. We look at this along with our master checklist because there are some items that are not appropriate for the master checklist. The communication plan lets us know when to send out our all faculty newsletter, our subject newsletters, and friendly reminders. We focus on the week rather than specific days.
Tying everything together is our Ops Manual. Being the newest member of the team, I needed processes and procedures spelled out for me. It seems instructions were everywhere, but there was no logic and order to the system, at least, in my mind. Our team now uses a Google Drive to store content; everything from checklists to email messages we would send. Our Ops Manual is basically an index that points to specific document that provides instructions or to a specific resources such as communication plan. The Ops Manual is broken into categories with sublinks to the specific documents. When we develop a new process, we document and tie it back to our Ops Manual. This is especially useful for tasks we do only once per year. Because it is in the cloud, it is easy to debrief and update. It also provides great continuity for new team members and for those of us who must fill in during absences. From our master checklist and communication plan, we also link to specifically needed resources.
All of that was just to keep us moving forward. Here is what we are doing to support our faculty.:
Blog, Website, and “Working Out Loud”
Center to our faculty support is our Website and blog. We use our blog to share timely content with our faculty. If we see something trending in the help desk logs, we will write a blog post and share it with our readers. Additionally, we are following a philosophy of “working out loud.” In other words, when someone asks a question, we will write a blog post with the answer and then send a link to the blog post. We not only help the individual with the question, but also help many others.
Within the Website, we are creating learning guides on a myriad of topics from badges to Google Drive. These pages provide links to not only instructions to use the tools but also ideas for using them. It is a quick way to bring the faculty up to speed on a topic. They create a starting point for a much more interesting conversation for using technology in instruction.
Closely tied to our Website and blog is our collection of newsletters. We have a generic newsletter called the TEI Digest that we use to communicate with all of our faculty. We often share routine events that occur during a semester. We also use it to highlight our faculty who are doing creating things with technology in the classroom. We are using Mailchimp to deliver the newsletters; it allows us to track our success. Previously we were clueless on the open rate.
We also offer a collection of opt-in newsletters on specific subjects. These newsletters share curated content with interested readers. Here is our current offering:
- Blended Learning
- Game-based Learning
- Google Applications
- Interactive TV/Video Conferencing
- Open Educational Resources
- Online Learning
- Social Learning
Faculty Relationship Management
We are finding that our greatest success comes from working one-on-one with faculty to solve problems and encourage the development of new skills. To keep track of our efforts, we are using a faculty relationship management (FRM) system called Insight.ly. With this FRM, we can track requests from faculty until resolution as well as tag them based on what we learn to target learning materials of interest to them. When we send them information of interest, they are responding much more and more positively than previously.
Finally, we are continuing to offer workshops on different topics and technologies. The challenge has been dialing in the best time to offer a workshop. We believe we have figured out a good time to offer instruction. We list our training options using a Google Calendar.
So far, the majority of faculty seem to be pleased with the direction we are going. Naturally, we keep learning and adapting based on what we discover. How about you? How are you developing and tracking your part of the world?