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A few months ago I was analyzing the results on a service excellence survey and found a number of responses for “suggested need for improvement” that were as simple as “answer the phone.” About that same time I was attending a conference where a speaker talked about the pushback she received from colleagues when she asked them to include the question, “Is there anything else I may do to assist you?” as they were leaving a customer.

I am attending the FETC conference in Orlando, Florida, this week and in the first session I was introduced to new technologies – apps, gadgets, URL/web-based items, all things technology – that help us connect better with one another or with some thing or with some content. The ideas and innovations move individuals to make connections, in essence broaden their worlds, which is seemingly opposite of the behavior described in the initial paragraph.

The “Tech Smackdown” presentation today got me thinking about how we use technology to improve and/or develop ourselves professionally specifically by connecting ourselves with other individuals. One might argue this means using technology to answer the question “Is there anything else I may do to (better) assist you?” Below are two examples, one showing how teachers provide coaches at their school feedback (so that the coaches may better assist their colleagues); and one showing how teachers provide instant feedback as well as receive instant feedback to and from a community of learners (to better engage students and increase student learning opportunities).

http://www.SurveyMonkey.com is used to create a questionnaire where teachers could anonymously provide feedback to the reading, math/science, and writing coaches at their school. The survey results are usually rolled out to the teachers by the coaches in grade-level meetings; given many of the other data meetings at this particular school, the coaches instead provided an email to their colleagues. Below is a portion of the email:

We appreciate your survey feedback and have pinpointed four areas needing most improvement as a coaching team. These are:

Modeling for teachers
Rewarding and recognizing good work
Planning for productive and efficiently run meetings
Being more transparent in communicating the whys behind decisions made that affect your teaching

We have worked diligently this year to accomplish these goals, but have reflected on our practices and made changes based on your survey feedback. When you have a chance, please take a look at the survey results. We welcome any and all further input, because we want to serve you the best we possibly can and we value your opinions!

@LeslieFisher presented the following website as part of the FETC pre-keynote session http://www.InfuseLearning.com and highlighted some of its features for classroom use. Simply the site offers the opportunity to “engage every student on any device.” It offers anonymous quick-response technology (similar to clickers) so students can respond to a question to the class – maybe even an impromptu question that comes up during discussion and which the teacher may type immediately to include – using their iPad, Macbook, iPhone, Android, or laptop… any device and it’s web-based. Below is an example of how a math educator could use the site:

Draw an angle measuring more than 90 degrees.

Students respond by drawing with their device. The teacher can tell when everyone has responded. A PDF document can be created with all of the drawings and shared with the class (or not). The result? Students are engaged and both the teacher and the student receive instant feedback.

As a blogger I want to connect with readers and always attempt to answer the question “Is there any content I may provide that would better assist you?” These two web-based products might just be the content – free content – that does just that. Take a few minutes and check them out and see if it helps you connect better with your colleagues or students; and please share with me what you find

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FETC 2013. (January 29, 2013). Pre-Keynote Session presentation by Leslie Fisher who is the chief geek at lesliefisher.com.