“Grab Gaggle and Let Your Technology Fly!”

“This is going to change everything that we do!” Awed by the range of the Gaggle platform and the fellowship and enthusiasm among the staff working to implement Gaggle, Pete Boudreaux, one of the St. Mary Parish supervisors who attended Gaggle training, couldn’t help but vocalize his enthusiasm. This excitement is coming from a district that had been saying ‘no’ to a student email application for at least eight years.

“We already knew that we weren’t fully meeting Louisiana technology standards, which stipulate that students should understand how to use communication media such as email in a safe, ethical, and responsible manner by high school. When the state recently required that each student be registered on a new career planning site and that the registration include a student email address, we had yet another reason to move on providing student email,” shared Susan Dupre, District Technology Facilitator in the St. Mary Parish School System, a rural public school district with 23 school sites.

The many features of Gaggle, including the security of the system, lead Dupre to present it to her superintendent. Convinced that it was something they wanted to try, the school system conducted a beta test with one of its junior high schools last year. When the 500 account trial seemed a success, the district submitted an E-Rate application to purchase an additional 5,000 accounts and began to plan for the best way to present this opportunity to their junior high and high school teachers and students.

“We created a Gaggle deployment team at each school and gave that team the power they needed to really own the implementation. The team was able to decide what tools they wanted to roll out first to students and what tools they wanted to keep blocked until they saw how the initial phase was going. While letting the schools control their own implementations complicated things a little on my side, acting as overall administrator, it created ownership among the deployment teams and they responded with true enthusiasm, making the best decisions for their students and school.” said Dupre.

The standard Gaggle training was deemed absolutely necessary to get Gaggle off to a good start. This training covers behind-the-scenes information, like student settings and access rules, grouping options, and account functionality. This knowledge sets the district on the path to successful implementation and integration of Gaggle’s technology.

Dupre attended all the trainings and, because she was right there as the system administrator, could make adjustments to Gaggle as topics were discussed in the class. Dupre, who has been conducting professional development in technology for ten years, also supplemented the Gaggle deployment teams’ efforts by providing additional training specifically for the school counselors. Additionally, Dupre is such a proponent of Gaggle, she is using her professional development background and presenting a Gaggle session at the ISTE affiliated Louisiana Association for Computer Using Educators Conference in December. The title of her presentation is “Grab Gaggle and Let Your Technology Fly!”

Dupre concludes, “Gaggle has been a great tool for St. Mary Parish. Gaggle allows administrators and educators to control what is happening via electronic communication in their schools and, with the addition of Gaggle Safety Management, Gaggle ensures that student-to-student interactions are professional and safe.”