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mlg0171

Using Google Docs to plan and communicate

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We recently started using Google Documents (docs.google.com) to help plan and communicate. I thought others might be interested. Note that all troops have different circumstances and this may not be everyone's cup of tea. E.g. we have a large troop and our SPL's are usually computer literate high schoolers with internet access.

 

 

Google docs are online word processor and spreadsheet documents (think Word and Excel) that multiple users can use. Note there are also "Presentations" which I suspect is like PowerPoint, but I haven't played with it.

 

 

We've found two uses so far.

 

 

1. TROOP MEETING PLANS

 

We first created Troop Meeting Plans. Each looks like the standard BSA form. We posted one form per meeting. The SPL, ASPL, SM, and SA's can log in at docs.google.com, view, and change the documents. You can control who has access to only view vs. who can make changes.

 

At the start of the SPL's term, we posted a blank form for each troop meeting and now the SM can log in any time to see the SPL's progress. Has he finalized plans for the next couple of weeks? Does he have the major parts for the next few months? How far out is he planning?

 

Here's the really cool part. The SM and SPL can be on the phone together, both sitting at their computers looking at the same document, and see changes in real time. So as the SM coaches the SPL and the SPL types changes, they both see the updates. (Not letter-for-letter real time, but it seems to refresh about every ten seconds.)

 

So, in this busy world, it makes it easier to communicate without having yet another meeting. You can print the documents to take to troop and PLC meetings and download them in formats such as pdf, doc, txt, html, open office, and rich text.

 

 

2. CAMPOUT ROSTER

 

Our standard way to find out who is going on the campout is to have the PL's communicate with their members and report back to the SPL. We used to have a sign up sheet at troop meetings, but found this was inaccurate (e.g. a scout is not at the meeting, but plans to camp) and consumed too much time at meetings. We prefer to use the patrol method to find out who is going, then walk into the troop meeting already knowing.

 

So, we posted a roster on Google Docs (again, viewable and/or changeable by SPL, ASPL, SM, SA's). As the SPL gets reports back, he deletes the names who are not going on the campout and he's left with a list of who is going. The other leaders can log in and see the progress. We can print and take it with us.

 

Because the roster started in a patrol format, the SPL can quickly see which patrols have only 3-4 guys going and combine them for the weekend.

 

He also makes notations about which scouts have a parent coming and how many seat belts each parent's car has.

 

 

 

I hope you find this helpful. You'll need to set up an account, but it's fast and free. Just put in your current email address (gmail account not required) and make up a password.

 

We're also looking at Google calendar to replace our current one, but I'm not sold on it yet.

 

 

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