Let’s Get Together Thursday – Digital Tools for Managing Collaboration

If you’re still using email and/or pencil and paper to schedule, communicate, and collaborate with your teachers, it’s time to look at digitizing your work.   It may be hard to get used to at first, but so was using an online catalog versus the old fashioned card catalog.  Like anything else, it takes time and effort to effectively manage the change, but the benefits are great:

1) Efficiency.  Have you ever had the experience of multiple people editing a single document?  Merging edits is cumbersome. Streamlining the editing into one live document takes a little more digital savvy, but is so much faster in the long run.   How about scheduling?  Ever had to go back and forth with a teacher to find the best time to schedule classes for research?  Real time calendars are a major time and headache saver.  Having these documents, calendars, and other products cloud based and accessible from any connected device is a perk as well.  No need to say, “I’ll have to check my calendar when I get to my desk later,” or “I saved that on my laptop at home.”

2) Be a leader.  We all know that the culture of a campus is a huge factor in planning, and you can’t give teachers an expensive technology tool and expect them to use it if they aren’t even in the habit of checking email.  However, this argument is falling apart for most of us.  If your faculty and staff are still technology resistant, it’s time to build them a ramp up on to the technology bandwagon. It’s 2015, and we are well into the 21st century.  If your teachers and administration are still using old school methods of communication, make it a personal goal to teach them how to use these tools, and why they need to (see #1!).  By modeling how to use these tools, you’re demonstrating your worth as a leader on your campus, but also will be teaching the tools to others as you do so.

3) Be a follower.  If you’re at a campus that is adopting or has adopted a suite of collaborative digital tools, and you’re not on board yet using these them, don’t wait another minute.  If you want to be seen as a relevant contributor to student success, you’ve got to keep the pace, and keep up with all initiatives on your campus, digital and otherwise.  If you’re feeling out of your comfort zone with these tools, ignoring them will only make it worse!  Take the time to take a class, find some online tutorials, make a study group with other librarians or teachers on your campus who need to learn, too, and do it together.  Your administrator will appreciate that you are being proactive in acquiring the new required skills of our profession.  It’s always okay to say, “I’m just learning to use this–I’m not yet the expert!”  No one is really an expert in technology.  As soon as you learn a tool, the developer adds new features, and you’re constantly in a state of learning as you go.  Being an expert in technology is more about being able and willing to figure it out.  Practice those “lifelong learning” skills.

Notice I didn’t specifically name any of those digital tools here?  There are a few that are the dominant tools today, and a whole slew of others popping up so quick it’s hard to stay on top of them.  It’s a certainty, though, that a year from now there will be different ones, or at least different versions of the ones currently in use.  Check out the Technology Tuesday blog for great posts on what’s new, how to use the standard tools, and other hot technology related tips.


Author: Jennifer Laboon

Jennifer LaBoon is the Coordinator of Library Technology in Fort Worth ISD. She serves on the AASL Blog Committee, on the Executive Board of the Texas Library Association, volunteers with a local children’s musical theater group, and is an avid TCU fan.

Categories: Blog Topics, Community/Teacher Collaboration

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1 reply

  1. Rather unique post – I haven’t, till date, seen a post about collaboration tools that does not mention a collaboration tool! What you have is good advice for someone skeptical/wary/intimidated by the 21st century collaboration tools.

    I run a collaboration tool too – GrexIt (http://grexit.com). GrexIt turns your Gmail into a powerful collaboration tool by sharing your Gmail labels. We believe email can be great for collaboration if used correctly and enhanced with the right tools. GrexIt is used by thousands of businesses daily.

    We’d love to be featured in Technology Tuesdays, and we welcome feedback about http://grexit.com. I’m @nirajr on Twitter. Thanks!

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