Using Google Apps to work smarter

Our school has a strong digital culture both in teaching and learning and in whole school processes. For example roll marking and many administration processes are electronic. Using technology in such day-to-day practices allow teachers to be comfortable and familiar with technology, which transcends into the classroom.

I was recently given the opportunity to move some of the school’s administration processes online. These administration processes include the applications for staff to attend professional learning and applications for excursions and variations to routine.

Prior to this, we were using interactive pdf forms for these applications. All forms were placed in a pdf portfolio in a shared drive at school. Teachers had to complete the relevant form, save the form from the portfolio and attach it to an email and send it to the designated staff member who processes the application. These processes were a critical part of the school’s journey in creating a digital culture. It allowed the school to move from paper-based processes to electronic processes. However the pdf forms had several issues, including:

  • Staff saving the whole pdf portfolio instead of just the relevant form.
  • Only one member of staff being able to access the forms’ information. This staff member would then have to pass on the information to other staff members that required this information, such as the person responsible for organising casual teachers to cover classes.
  • The forms taking up storage space in emails
  • The lack of a system to track which forms had been processed, especially in times when multiple people processed the forms

Basically we wanted a system where there were simple forms that staff can fill out and click submit (without the need to save or email). We wanted a system where multiple organisers can access the same information and track progress in processing the information.

I was lucky enough to be trusted with the responsibility in exploring a tool to do this. I decided to use Google Documents and Google Sites. I made forms via Google Documents for applications for staff professional learning and applications for excursions and variations to routine. With these forms, staff only have to fill in the relevant information and click on Submit. Designated staff members with administration access will see the forms’ responses in a spreadsheet. The main advantage is that there can multiple designated staff members working on the same document (eg. the person in charge of placing events on the school calendar and the person in charge of casual relief can work collaboratively on the same spreadsheet to track who has done what. The spreadsheet can also be downloaded as an Excel file to be backed up if required.

screenshot of online form

Screenshot of online form for application for professional learning made in Google Documents


screenshot of spreadsheet in google

screenshot of spreadsheet in google with responses from online forms

The next step is to find a space to hold all the forms. I decided to set up a staff intranet via Google Sites. I was also able to merge the school’s calendar and link in the school’s previously set up technology blog into the intranet. So now there is one online space for all administration processes that can be accessed at school, home and anywhere else with internet access. It can also be accessed by mobile devices.

intranet screenshot

screenshot of the staff intranet on google sitesscreenshot of a page in the staff intranet where all school admin forms are placed

Hopefully this will continue our school’s journey in creating and maintaining a digital culture. In the end, it’s about streamlining processes, centralising resources and working smarter.

The best part is Google Documents and Google Sites are free!