By Rhonda Spradling
Is your school or district a victim of its own information overload?
Find out how one school is wielding a standard intranet to tame
its out-of-control digital filing system.
Vanquish the Clutter Beast
Istarted teaching high school English in 2006, after a seven-year stint in IT. My first year in the classroom came well after the introduction of computers, file sharing, internet applications, and electronic communication.
As you might expect, the stockpile of digital clutter I faced
when I started my new job proved fit for an episode of
Hoarders Some people discovered that they could store everything in all kinds of fancy tech applications, so they did.
In gigabytes. Other people wrote off changes as technological fads and maintained their own paper-based systems
completely off the grid.
All this file-storing vigilantism meant that, if you wanted
to find a policy or procedure, fill out a particular form,
or view a calendar, you had to remember its exact physi-
cal or virtual location. Is that the thing kept in that one
notebook? Is it behind the secretary’s desk? Maybe it was
in that document or on the school webpage. Or perhaps
it was on Moodle. And what was my user name and pass-
word again? We wasted way too much time just keeping
track of what existed where, not to mention the productiv-
ity lost due to our perpetual frustration.
Over time, new models for educator effectiveness (such
as professional learning communities) and new educator
evaluation systems (think “pay for performance”) drove an
increase in collaboration between school faculty and staff.
Unfortunately, this only fed the digital clutter problem. We
couldn’t put it off any longer. We had to take control of our
clutter beast before it devoured us.
But what kind of system would be big and powerful
enough to tame the monster, yet still affordable and—
most important—easy to use? We decided to take a page
from the corporate playbook by installing a comprehensive
schoolwide intranet. Here’s how we made it work in an
educational setting. I s t o