|Opt-in Google Form for Tech Tips|
Why I chose Email:
I've seen lots of tech coaches talking about setting up webpages of resources for their staffs. That's nice, but it requires people to go get the info, (of course they bookmarked that link right?) They need to know what they are looking for, and you have to keep it all current and applicable. To me, a massive list of links, or even pretty buttons, seems unhelpful to our least tech savvy colleagues. What they can do though, is check their email. And, they are more likely to read an email from a colleague they know, than one from the district office. And, if they have a question they can just reply to me.
Yeah, we all get a lot of email, and I didn't want to be sending junk mail, so, in just one all staff email, I asked folks to opt-in for tech tips by filling out a Google Form. You can get a copy HERE. The form has a checkbox list of their tech interests. About half the teachers at my site have opted in now. Each time I send out a message people seem to join because other's forward the message.
What's in it:
Each message is short and topical. I typically include one new tool, i.e. Flipgrid, Edpuzzle, Padlet, etc.. Usually things that I know will have immediate applications, and are fairly easy to learn to use. Google drive tools make frequent appearances. I often include a trouble shooting tip, usually a short anecdote about some issue I saw in my own classroom, or helped a colleague with. If there are good upcoming PD offerings I will include info and links about those. If the district is changing something, upgrading something, moving something etc. I include that too.
Often, I have lots of things I want to get in there, but I don't want to overwhelm my colleagues, so I keep a spreadsheet of what is in each newsletter and what I might want to include in future emails. This keeps me from duplicating myself and give me a place to record ideas for upcoming emails. When I learn about something cool at a conference or from Twitter, I just add it to the list. The screenshot below shows that process. You'll note there are four content columns. I usually try for three out of four, because four out of four seems like too much. This also makes it much easier to write, because I never face a blank page. I always have this running list of ideas about what to include.
|Spreadsheet of past and future topics for the tech tips email.|
I always end each message the same way, with links to sign up, and a link to the drive folder that has all the previous tech tips docs. (I always draft in a doc, so it was easy to share a folder with all the previous versions.) Sharing that link to the folder makes it easy for people to find previous messages. They don't need to look for a link to a site I sent them once upon a time, because each email gives them a bit of info, and links to the rest. This also helps people who join later and want to see earlier issues.
|Drive Folder of Previous Messages|
How often does it go out:
My original intention was once a week. I did pretty well with that for awhile. Then it got more sporadic. Since this is not really my job I just write when I have something helpful to share. Lately, I've gotten back into writing them because more people want to gear up for distance learning.
- Keep it hyper-local, specific to your school and your district. That makes it useful and applicable info for your colleagues. Every district, and school has slight differences in how they handle tech integration. Teachers get so frustrated when they learn about a tool, or strategy and then find out it won't work in their district.
- Try to keep it short of course.
- Always use BCC to add the email addresses. This prevents any pesky "reply all" responses. It also protects the privacy of people getting the newsletter. Yes, they do all know each other, but it is still a best practice.
- Add a semicolon after each email address and you can copy/paste the whole column from your sing up spreadsheet to your BCC field.
- Sorry, I'm probably not going to add you to the list of folks who get my tech tips email. I wrote this post to help you start your own, but the one I write is just for my colleagues. I tend to tell them what I really think in ways I might not if the newsletter were a more public form. Plus, the whole hyper-local part makes it less useful to you anyway.
I do this because my colleagues tell me it is helpful. So often someone tells me they just tried something I suggested and loved it. Many of those conversations begin with, "I never knew that..." And then I feel a little bad because it is often something I've known about or used for years and somehow never effectively shared before. The tech tips email is helping me spread the future to my colleagues. I hope it will help you spread the future to some of yours.
|Example email from fall 2019|