Each year in our community, sixth and seventh graders from different synagogue schools converge on one site to act out shtetl life and role-play the experience of early 20th century immigration to a new land (the U.S. or Palestine). It’s an attempt to teach history experientially. So every year we directors of education meet to redesign the program. This year a new element in the planning was introduced: The Cloud.
Usually we planners meet in one of our offices to discuss ideas. This year was my second as the lead organizer of this community effort. I decided to conduct an experiment. Our team continued to meet to brainstorm, but in addition I introduced Google Docs to my colleagues. After every meeting I wrote up the notes, posted them on and shared them via my Google Docs account. In addition to the notes, I shared the documents that we planned on using during the program (faux passports and visa applications, publicity pieces, letters to parents for help) for feedback and revisions. Essentially, what developed was an added layer of collaboration as we put together the “Immigration Experience”. Rather then just waiting for our monthly meetings, we were able to plan the program on a constant and consistent basis. It provided a great impetus for making a good event even better, because we planners were more invested and involved. No longer was the process of collaboration episodically based on face-to-face encounters.
Of course there were many learning curves, each defined by the technological comfort level of the Google neophyte. Most of the other education directors had never used Google Docs. Despite initial trepidation, most of my colleagues are now embracing the idea of integrating this type of digital tool into their work. We have begun the process of growing into a stronger professional learning community.
I can't wait to introduce them to Dropbox and Wikis.