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Monday, May 22, 2017

Information Wall

I heard a story about an information wall--a human-made obstacle to good information share that created havoc.

As I listened to the story, I thought of ways to break down that information wall.

First, it's critical to create websites with essential information that are easy to access at anytime of day or night. In the story I read about, the information was difficult to access. Recently a colleague created a website to support our systemwide work with MCAS. I consulted that website daily as I proctored the test and navigated the school computers and systemwide infrastructure and MCAS routine. The website saved me time and helped me to do what was right in view of the tests. If there had been a well designed, easy to access website related to the story above, the havoc would not have occurred.

Next, information needs to be easy to read and understand. Too often those who create documents related to their field of expertise forget that they are communicating with people in other fields who are less familiar with the material. People have to make time to make information simple to access, read, and understand.

Also, information requirements should be easy to complete. Many documents in our system can be completed online in short time. This is positive and should lead the way for others to make information easy to access, complete, and turn in. One great app to support this kind of work is DocHub which allows you to fill out any form online and then immediately send that form into the location that requests the form.

Further there should be sensitivity to people who work away from good phone or tech access during the day. Elementary school teachers have little to no time during the day to do personal business--our jobs are very active as we work with and for young children. People who work with elementary school teachers have to be mindful of this, and perhaps need to schedule events on weekends, in the evenings, or better yet, during a scheduled release time or professional day to ensure that teachers have the time to access the needed information.

Information walls in any field create havoc and block the promise and potential possible. As much as possible we have to take down those walls by making information easy to read/understand, accessible, and timely.

At the grade level we do this with our TeamFive website, weekly newsletters, calendar, and email response--we work to serve students, colleagues, and family members well by anticipating information needs and seeking the best ways to communicate.

Our local union does the same with our union website and regular newsletters. We have many pages on the website to support teacher questions and needs. I can imagine that we will even add more pages in the days ahead as questions arise.

Timely calendars also help, and when possible, if calendars can be shared with individuals with plenty of lead time, that too helps to deconstruct information walls and obstacles.

In general, people profit when information is forthcoming and understandable while information walls stymie good work and create frustration, confusion, and a waste of time.