Collaboration is vital to teaching and learning. Before COVID-19, collaboration might have happened at the copy machine, in the hallway, or in department meetings. Things changed last spring with the onset and spread of COVID-19. During this time, we had to respond and act quickly.
Now, we all face uncertainty with our back-to-school plans for the fall. It is more important than ever that we find new (and sustainable) ways to help facilitate our collaboration with each other regardless of whether we are online, remote, in-person, or using a unique hybrid. This is our time to move from the defensive of managing a crisis to the offensive!
This blog provides five apps that can help you collaborate with other teachers, colleagues, community members, and even parents during the fall semester and beyond. Whether you are working remotely or teaching in-person, these are helpful tools that can keep your lessons, projects, and priorities moving in a positive and sustainable direction.
Though many people and schools use the Microsoft or Google suites for communication and information storage, there are many other apps available that can take your planning and collaboration to the next level. These tools can be used with others for collaboration or purely for self-planning.
1. Appointment Tracking and Planning: Calendly
Are you managing a team and need a way to connect with colleagues regarding their tasks? Are you looking for a simple way for families or colleagues to schedule a time to meet with you without sending a million emails? Are you a college advisor who is holding appointments online?
Calendly is a great tool to schedule one-on-one meetings with colleagues, committee members, and even parents. You are able to list different times when you are available to meet. Then, the guest is able to go in, select a time that works for them, and receive an email with information for the meeting. You can even sync this to your online calendars where you and the guest get a reminder about the appointment. There is a free version of Calendly, but iff you find it helpful, there are additional options available for a monthly fee. This product is similar to using the appointment book feature in GoogleCalendar.
ELT Example: Imagine that you are the director of an EL program. Because your program will now be offered remotely for the fall, you want to check in with all of the educators in your program to see how they are doing and if they need anything while they plan their courses. Calendly could be a helpful tool that would allow you to painlessly schedule meetings with these educators.
2. Project Management and Collaboration: Trello & Slack
Are you currently working on a project in your department? Are you reorganizing how you do student intake and education planning? Are you going to coteach with someone this year and need a place to store curriculum and lesson ideas? Do you want to track all of the steps within a given project?
Trello and Slack are great Apps that allow you to manage projects, tasks, and information. These programs allow you to collaborate with others, share information easily, and make sure that all elements of a project are completed. Trello can also be used as a personal planning tool. If you are sick of writing to-do lists over and over, you might use Trello to create running lists of tasks that need to be completed through organized categories. Regardless of what your project is or the type of collaboration you are participating in, both of these products allows you to move information, tasks, and updates outside of your email.
ELT Example: Imagine that you are coteaching a class this year with a content teacher. Right now, you do not know if you will be remote or in-person for the fall semester. However, you are looking for a place online to store your conversations, planning, and curriculum ideas. You have found that things are getting lost in your email and Google Docs do not seem to be organized enough. Trello or Slack would be a helpful tool for you to store this information, keep the conversations running, and keep the information stored in an accessible way.
3. Note-Taking and Information Sharing: Evernote & Dropbox
Are you in charge of helping a new colleague get situated for the semester? Do you want to share your course planning or department documents with others? Are you on a committee where you have to take constant notes and store information? Are you looking for options other than Google?
Evernote is an app that allows you to take and store notes quickly, manage projects, and stay on task. It also provides options that allow you to share your notes and information with others on your team or in your department. This can be especially helpful if you are organizing a large project but want to avoid using the traditional GoogleDrive options.
In addition, if you have a lot of documents, sound files or photos, you can store and share them using Dropbox. This can be especially helpful if you want to share a lot of data quickly. Whether you are working remotely or in-person, it is helpful if you can store and share information easily with others on your team.
ELT Example: Imagine that you are teaching an English pronunciation course for the first time. You are trying to organize your plans and materials for the course. You have been able to talk with the previous teacher who taught this course. They are collaborating with you as you plan your course. They have offered to share multiple audio and video recordings that would be perfect for your class. Instead of emailing them all or putting them in Gmail, you could share this information using DropBox.
As we start to transition into the fall semester, there are many unknowns. We do not necessarily know what our classes will look like or how we will continue to function in remote and hybrid learning situations. However, one thing is certain: Collaboration and communication are key. Consider using some or all of these apps to help you and your ELT team connect and thrive in the semester and year ahead.
Do you have other go-to apps for collaboration? Please share in the comments below!