Monday, February 9, 2015

Herding Cats with Trello

Here is an organizational app perfect for managing committee work, clubs, student group projects, scheduling department resources, to-do lists, herding cats, and much, much more

With a Trello board a team can ...
  • Discuss and prioritize project goals
  • Assign task roles 
  • Set deadlines
  • Communicate on work progress
  • Comment on shared content
  • Share media files (video and photo)
  • Access shared boards with both the PC and mobile devices

Currently the science department uses Trello to schedule, organize, and communicate about labs. Gen Greene kindly agreed to share a quick reflection on their department's use of Trello. 

Why We Use Trello
by Gen Greene

With the creation of the Lab Coordinator position for the 2013-2014 school year we needed to find a system where individual teachers could make requests for lab setups that didn’t involve multiple emails, would allow other teachers on a team to see what was scheduled, and allow the lab coordinator to manage workflow. 

How We Use Trello

In any given week there are multiple labs that need to be set up and cleaned up, all requiring different equipment, acquisition of materials, and preparation of supplies. Trello has allowed us to have one location where all teachers can go to make requests, post lab handouts and make checklists. On each team (Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, and AP classes) there is one teacher who is in charge of posting all requests on Trello at least one week in advance, including a lab handout. The lab coordinator can then look at the lab handout to compile a checklist of tasks/items that need to be purchased and prepped prior to the lab being set up.  

If the lab coordinator has questions, instead of emailing the teacher a comment can be posted on Trello and a notification email is sent to the teacher.  When the teacher responds the comment is posted on Trello so there is a continuous record of communication. Cards can be archived and recalled again in future years so if there are changes to the lab or notes that would be helpful to have, these are all stored on the card and available for future reference.

The checklists that are on the Trello card can be printed out and used by TAs to complete tasks like getting materials out. In the event that the lab coordinator is off campus and a TA is looking for work to do, a teacher can look on Trello to see what work needs to be completed.

Limitations of Trello

Currently, adding work requests to Trello requires an additional step by teachers because they have to look at their class calendars and then create a card on Trello. Ideally, there would be a way in Google Calendar to send an activity to Trello and a card created automatically. This would help when lab dates change because as it stands now the teacher needs to go into Trello and modify the due date, which often doesn’t happen.

Does this sound interesting? 

If so, be sure to sign up for Gen Greene and Mary Anne Saunders' inservice workshop on March 16.

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