Google, Friend of the SLP: Part One
In addition to being a total Apple "fanboy", as they say, I must confess I am a pretty big Googlephile — this is somewhat of a conflict as the two companies are generally in competition, but I can somehow reconcile that opposition. What I love about Google (besides their several-year-old motto, "Don't be evil," which in itself is in conflict with some of the company's recent actions) is the selection of free and extremely useful tools that they offer to anyone with a Gmail account.
Of course, we all know that what makes these tools free is that Google snoops on some of our activity (e.g. searches, email key words) and slips in some ads that might correspond to our profiles on their sites. I may regret promoting them someday when Google has become our benevolent overlord, but for now I can live with all of this, and for the next several posts I am going to describe some clinical applications of Google tools for the school-based SLP.
Since most SLPs are starting in on scheduling (or will be soon, or are just starting to follow their schedule), today I would like to talk about the usefulness of Google Calendar. Some years ago, I wanted to convert to a more sophisticated means of creating schedules after years of just making one in a MS Word-style table and printing it out. Apple's iCal seemed an option, but the program kept crashing on the laptop I was using, and synching your calendar across multiple computers or devices required a pricey subscription to the MobileMe service.
I found Google calendar to be a good and easy-to-use solution, the main advantage being that I could access my schedule from anywhere. I therefore did not have to have my paper calendar with me in order to figure out my next day's (or week's) plans from home, respond to an email about scheduling an IEP meeting, or make any adjustments as necessary.
Recent advancements have made it easy to synch your Google Calendar with iCal or other programs, and easily access it from your mobile phone so you don't even need to bring your calendar to your next meeting. In addition, you can receive alerts on scheduled meetings and easily share your entire calendar with other specific people —say, your graduate intern — or to anyone with the link to the calendar. I still maintained the habit of printing each week's calendar, which, in case you were worried, contained only student initials, for reference and so that I could use it to maintain attendance records.
If you would like more information about how to get going with Google Calendar, check out the great tutorials available here (great despite the misspelling — click down the right "Suggestions" sidebar for further videos in this series on Google Calendar).