Thursday, June 23, 2011

Too Many Cooks Spoil The Workshop

I did pretty well right up until the last half hour of today's teacher workshop.  I thought I might actually make it, but then I couldn't take it anymore.  Before I could stop myself, I spun around in my seat, glared at my neighbor and hissed, "STOP IT!!!"

She was obviously startled.  I could tell by the way she jumped, looked guilty and muttered, "Er...sorry.  I was just trying to copy the thing."

It's nobody's fault, really.  My school district is switching a lot of our applications over to Google.  They've done about a million trainings, most of which have been poorly attended.  Today's workshop was pretty heavily dependent upon Google Docs.  To make sure that all went well, they started the day with yet another crash course in how to use it.  This happens to be a very handy application and one with which we should all be more comfortable.

I do not claim to be a tech savvy person.  I will also admit that I haven't made it to any of the classes they've offered.  I have, however, used the application as part of a smaller committee upon which I serve and I suppose that this gave me an edge over some of the other participants.

Yet, even without this slight advantage, I like to think I understand the basic meaning of the word "shared."  I learned all about it in Kindergarten.  If something is "shared," it is not mine and mine alone.  Others get to use it.  Hence, it is unwise for me to get all proprietary about this thing and ignore everyone else waiting their turn nicely.

For example, if the crayons are to be "shared," you cannot stick them up your nose or break all the green ones because you hate broccoli.  When cookies are served and you are told to "share," you can't lick each one until you find your favorite.  It's basic pretty basic stuff for most five year olds.

So how is it that a group of fifty adults can't get their heads around the idea that a "shared" document is visible to everyone?  Or that being given viewing privileges don't necessarily translate to editing rights? I can understand how it might be a little confusing at first, especially if you've never worked with a shared document before.  But three hours in, people were still randomly highlighting stuff, taking notes and remaining blithely unaware that everything they were doing was showing up on everyone else's laptop, not to mention the big screen at the front of the room.  Sometimes they even changed the name of the file so that the presenter couldn't find it.  Even better, each time they did something to a doc, the program helpfully identified them by name so that we all could see who was messing with the text.

I mean, good lord!  If a document is "shared" and you don't know what you are doing, take a page from Sheepie's book:  Sit on your hands and touch nothing.  Save yourself the embarrassment until you can figure out how to make it all work.  And Sheepie figured this out in a small meeting where she would only have humiliated herself in front of six people.  Sheepie didn't need to have her sins put up on the big screen for all to see.

There were little colored tabs everywhere, random alerts letting us know that stuff was being changed and sometimes full sections being highlighted as people attempted to make copies so that they didn't do exactly what was driving me utterly insane by that point.

 When the lady sitting next to me attempted to highlight and copy the final document for her own editing purposes, I probably could have held my tongue.  I'd made it through the whole day on very little sleep and somehow kept myself from having an episode.  But I just couldn't take it anymore.  I guess I should count myself lucky that it was a person with whom I have a pretty good working relationship instead of a total stranger.  That is the sort of thing that lends itself to restraining orders and whatnot.  As it was, I merely flung down my knitting and showed her how to make a copy.  I knew how to do this because they went over it at the beginning of the workshop, but I didn't bother pointing this out and that is how I know I have amazing self-control.

All other evidence to the contrary...

Sure, you could point out that maybe 56 people having access to one document is a little extreme and that maybe Google Docs isn't the best way to go about handing out training material.  Or that using shared documents in a training with people who don't have much experience with them is certainly going to take away from the actual content of the presentation while everyone figures it out.  It might even be suggested that a group of teachers forced back to school on the first day of their summer vacations is not the most focused of audiences.  They are highly unlikely to recall certain important details from the first hour of a very long day.

All valid points. But I still can't help but wonder if maybe we should have had a different agenda for the first day of training.  Perhaps Day One should have been right out of the kindergarten teacher's manual...



mehitabel said...

You did well to wait that long. Really. She should be glad you didn't call her bad names in front of everyone.
I hope you don't have to spend any more of your vacation in "training" classes. And, you know, maybe it's just the old unreconstructed teacher in me, but I always think "training" is what you do to animals, and "teaching" is what you do to humans.

Donna Lee said...

You were the very model of restraint. I am NOT the IT person in my building but because I know thismuch more than my coworkers they think I am Bill Gates' sister or something. I hold my tongue and do not say "Just like the last three times I showed you this,...."

Enjoy your vacation. I think you've earned it.

trek said...

Of course, the owner of the document coul dhave given view privileges and denied edit privileges - like I do with the syllabi so that students can't muck it up...

Fell better, Sheepie.

Julia G said...

The teachers are probably as checked out mentally as the students have been during the last few weeks of school (speaking as an exasperated parent). Hope the workshops wind up quickly and your summer can begin in earnest!

Mia said...

well, good for you sheepie, cuz I'm pretty sure I WOULD have had an episdoe! Summer's almost upon us - you can do it!