Before classes began this year, I sat down with John Lovett, the head of the Green Dorm, to talk to him about his options regarding how to best share data among his dorm proctors. We worked out a good way to start the efforts and John took things from there. Here’s what he has to say about the program so far:
The Green Dorm is working hard to reduce the amount of paper we use and better fulfill the Academy’s mission of environmental stewardship. With the help of Josh Seamon we have been able to use Google Documents as a solution to our paper usage. The unintended consequence of this move to protect the environment is that we are now better able to share information about students and meet student needs in a more efficient way. The gift of the tablets has only served to enhance the usefulness of this project, and had broadened the spectrum of its possibilities.
Each dorm is responsible for several pieces of information which have traditionally been kept on physical paper copies. The most visible of these information sheets are the daily check lists. These check lists track whether or not our students are able to meet expectations in the dorm on a day to day bases. Expectations include room cleanliness and checking in at dinner. Students who are successful are rewarded, while students who are unsuccessful are highlighted as needing some further education or motivation to allow them to meet expectations. By creating a digital check sheet in Google documents, not only are we able to track a student’s success, we are also able to chart and collaborate on this information to help better serve our students. Our digital copy is instantly available to all Green Dorm proctors and administrators, and each student’s mentor can better monitor a student’s progress each day. This allows us to more readily see inconsistency’s or trends as all of our information is in one easily accessible place. For the future we will also have an archived log of student behavior that can be referenced as well help students reach their goals through the entire year and in years to come.
We are also responsible for information about students that is not easily tracked with check marks on paper. Google documents allows us to create individual student files that can be shared by the proctors so that we can stay informed of the individual needs of each student. Though we do not make any delicate student information public, we do have general notes on likes and dislikes, and we have highlights of circumstances in which other academy personnel should be contacted. For example, some of our students have statements in their file that instruct us to contact our nursing staff if we see specific symptoms of behavior. This allows us to take care of our students without infringing on their confidentiality.
Our Google document account has also become a centralized location for information about each individual night of duty. In the past we have relied on e-mail to communicate to other proctors pertinent information from the night before that they would need to be effective for their night of duty. Now a daily log allows all those who are shared to the document to know how an evening has gone, and what actions still need follow up from the previous night. It also allows persons in the administration to be aware of some of the struggles our students are having, and allows them to offer support when appropriate. It also allows us a reference to better inform decisions about each of our students.
Using Google documents has worked very well so far. We are able to share, collaborate, communicate, and serve better than the past simply by streamlining the information use and collect. We are moving in the future to better synchronize our information with the rest of the resident life program. The hope is to have a comprehensive look at returning students, and better initial information on new students. We will already be using Google documents to have information regarding afternoon activities in the near future. The hope is we will also be able to use Google documents to communicate better with our students using their digital devices, much like our K12 alert system. I believe this will be possible in the near future as we implement our iPads to each new incoming class.
The possibilities are exciting.
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