participant answers on an individual
device (preserving anonymity); and
results are immediately tabulated and
displayed to the entire group as a bar
graph, chart, comment list, or other
format. Some systems use dedicated
devices with interactive whiteboards,
and some have teachers use personal
devices (like laptops or smartphones)
and software applications with
web-based feedback tools—such as
Socrative, Poll Everywhere, Google
Forms, and GoSoapBox.
n Cloud-based tools for collaboration.
Imagine if, during inservice presentations, teachers spent time exchanging
feedback on lesson plans connected to
the strategy just presented. Or imagine
if, during faculty meetings, they collaborated in small groups on a master
scheduling document—which was
then saved to the school’s network.
Google Apps for Education, Microsoft
365, and Zoho, among other products,
are effective ways to share work and
provide comments online. These tools
let people share at a variety of levels—
view, comment, edit, or chat.
n Online tools to meet—and
brainstorm. Nifty tools like Padlet,
MindMup, and TodaysMeet enable
a group of people to share plans and
ideas online in real time. Padlet offers
advantages over paper-based brain-
storming: Users can add photos and
graphics to their “sticky notes,” elec-
tronic “walls” can be saved for later
viewing, and the notes can be easily
sorted and categorized.
n Built-in cameras and microphones.
Many schools choose tablet computers
rather than laptops because they have
built-in rear-facing cameras and micro-
phones. When kids record their own
actions during learning activities, these
devices become formative assessment
tools of the highest order. Adults can
use them for formative assessment of
their teaching, too. Record a lesson
or an interaction with a student, and
then view it with peers (or share the
recording online) for comments,
feedback, and discussion.
n Web-based creation software. When
you do need to present a chunk of
information, make your presentation
look professional and awesome.
Animoto, Prezi, Wordle, Voice Thread
and a multitude of infographic creators
like Creately make doing so relatively
simple. Some, like Voice Thread,
enable users to comment online within
In professional development exercises, we might give participating
teachers a quick tutorial on, say, Prezi,
then have them communicate their
ideas and demonstrate their learning
to the group with pictures and sounds
as well as words.
3. We can hold paperless meetings.
Instantly modifiable and full of links to
further information, online documents
are more current, more useful, and
easier to find again when needed. Our
district uses Google Docs to create and
share agendas, schedules, and informa-
tional materials pertinent to meetings.
Rather than printing documents out,
participants bring a device to meetings
and refer to documents online. We
provide updated information for par-
ticipants online after meetings. Plus,
this sends an environmental message.
We school leaders must be the change
we want to see in our school, to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi. We have
to model good technology use in
all human interactions—including
classes, meetings, and professional
Technology use can even help us differentiate instruction for adult learners.
If schools use content and course
management systems like Moodle,
teachers can assess their own skills and
place themselves in the right professional development course or session.
When online courses or activities at
a variety of skill levels are available,
nobody gets bored or frustrated.
Do we really think teachers will try
to integrate technology into their classrooms when encouraged to do so by
an administrator who only uses paper
handouts and lectures at meetings?
Get real. EL
1Byrne, R. (2013, June 13). 5 Benefits
of using backchannels in the classroom
[blog post]. Retrieved from Free Technology for Teachers and www.freetech4
Doug Johnson (doug0077@gmail
.com) is director of technology for the
Burnsville-Eagan-Savage Public Schools
in Minnesota. He is the author of The
Classroom Teacher’s Technology Survival Guide (Jossey-Bass, 2012). He
blogs at the Blue Skunk Blog (http://
Making It Happen
What School and District
Leaders Can Do
n Create staff meeting norms that
allow the constructive use of tech-
n Model effective device man-
agement strategies in meetings.
n Use the tools teachers are
expected to use in the classroom in
staff meetings and inservices.