Thursday, January 10, 2013

Making Teachers' Lives Easier

The following is a guest post by Jessica Groff, an English teacher here at New Milford High School.  In this post she discusses her experience with a cloud-based technology solution called ClassLink. Jessica also teachers Digital Journalism and has worked with her students to create The Lance, our school's digital newspaper.



Four years ago, I left a desk job to become a teacher.  In my previous life, I would turn off the computer in the office at 5:00 and go home, not thinking about the files left at the office again.  When I began teaching, my world changed.  Although school ended at 3:00, my work continued.  From extra help, to grading papers, to creating assessments and coming up with activities, my profession reached far into my home life.  

I quickly realized that saving work on my computer at work was not going to be good enough anymore.  How could I open up a document and work on it at home at 7:00 at night when a great idea came to me if it was something that I had saved on my school computer during my preparation period at school?!

The first thing that I did was invest in a good flash drive.  It had lots of space, and it was handy because I kept it on my keychain, something that goes everywhere with me.  I began saving all of my work to my flash drive.  I could easily work on a document at home OR at school.  It was simple, lightweight, and convenient.  And then one day, my world came crashing down.  My flash drive had fallen off of my keychain.

Hours worth of work were lost forever.  

After this traumatic experience, I caved in and started emailing myself documents.  I would have different versions of the same document at home and at school, taking up space in my email, and I was always unsure of which version I had used latest.  It was confusing, but the only way that I could get done what needed to be done!

And then I came to New Milford High School, a school that has invested in and uses Classlink.  My life was saved!  With Classlink, I am able to save my documents to my personal drive on the school’s server, and access them from ANY computer with Internet capability.  I can download the document, work on it, and upload it back into my personal drive at work, even from home or on the go.  

Also, with Classlink, there is easy one-click access to various websites that we use the most often here at NMHS, such as PowerTeacher, SchoolDude (our work order request website), Google Apps, and virtually anything else that we may access on a regular basis.  It is a one-stop shop for all things education and ed-tech.

What I like the most about Classlink is that I can access it from anywhere.  My responsibilities at school do not keep me chained to my room all day.  I often move to different rooms, and sometimes I cannot just log on to the school server using my unique username and password.  At times like this, I can simply go to any computer that’s logged in and go to the Classlink website.  For example, today I was working with my Digital Journalism class in the Mac Lab on the lower level of our school.  A student needed a permission slip that I had drawn up on my computer on the third floor.  I simply logged onto Classlink, found the document, downloaded it, changed it to reflect what he needed, and printed it out on the spot. 

For the Apple users out there, there is an iPhone/iPad application, as well.  With the app, I can download documents into Evernote, or any other compatible processing app, and view or make changes to anything.  I often access my personal drive from the application during meetings to discuss projects and assessments or curriculum with colleagues, which makes on-the-spot collaboration much more interactive.  Instead of saying, “I’ll email you the document,” or running to my classroom to print it out and run back to my waiting colleagues, I can open any document on my cell phone and show it to my colleagues at that very moment, and we can move forward with our discussion.

I really cannot say enough great things about Classlink.  It has made my life so much easier in so many ways when it comes to planning, preparation, and collaboration, the three keys to being a teacher.  I know what life was like before, and I’m so glad that NMHS found Classlink!  

We are also using ClassLink here at NMHS as a cloud-based Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) solution.  It is a fantastic resource for schools looking to streamline their BYOD initiatives

2 comments:

  1. This is a great idea! We did this same thing with DropBox years ago when we had a Talent 21 Grant in my school district.

    Thanks for the idea and I will check into Classlink!

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  2. Very informative post. Keep up the good work. I would really look forward to your other posts
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