Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How I Weaned Myself Off of Office

How I Weaned Myself Off of Office

In 2011, I was accepted into the Google Teacher Academy in Seattle, WA. I went to this intense workshop pretty confident thinking “I know about Google Apps.” When I saw what others were doing with Google Apps and what was possible, my thought became “I’ve got a lot to learn about Google Apps.” When the school year started one month later, I made the decision that I would begin to embrace Google Apps and learn what it had to offer, but I realized that I needed a plan to be successful. I had been a long-time Office user and I knew it could be a daunting task unless I was smart about it.

Here is what I did, and what I recommend to others:

Pick One

Don’t feel like you have to learn the entire Google Apps suite all at once. Pick one that you would use the most and become an expert at that. Don’t overwhelm yourself. You will find that many actions and menus are the same as you move between apps, so when you do venture into a different app, you will find yourself in a somewhat familiar environment. Once you have become confident in one, move on to the next. Success is a key element to positively affecting motivation, and biting off more than you can chew will only bring frustration.

Don’t Quit Cold Turkey

Whether you are a teacher, business person, or just a private user, switching programs on a dime takes valuable time that you don’t have to spare. I made the decision that if I had to create something new, I would use Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides. If I already had what I needed in Word, Excel, or Powerpoint, I wouldn’t recreate it because my time is valuable. Sure, I was operating in two different environments, but I was learning the Google environment and I was able to compare it to the Office counterpart. It is important to note that Robert Marzano listed Identifying Similarities and Differences, in his book Classroom Instruction That Works, as one of the most effective learning strategies. Once my comfort level increased with the Google environment, I used Office less and less to the point that I don’t use it at all anymore!

Find That One Thing

Another suggestion I make to others is to find one task you have on a consistent basis that requires word processing, spreadsheets, or presentations. From here on out, complete that task using Google Apps. This gives you frequent and consistent practice at using the program which builds proficiency and confidence. Because there are many menus and actions in Google Apps that are the same between the apps, positive transfer becomes a powerful tool! Practice is key to retention!

Synergyse It or YouTube It!

“How do I…?” If your question starts with these words, type it into a YouTube search bar. You will probably find multiple screencasts of different Google users showing you how to accomplish what you are looking for. If your organization is a Synergyse Training customer, you will definitely find interactive training that will show you, in your own Google environment, how to do what you need. Remember that modeling and meaning are important elements to effective and long-lasting learning.

You can do it! Take that first step!