Dropbox update – MyPaperless PhD

Just a quick post today-

After thinking that I wasn’t saving to dropbox properly at work, I found the real problem was not closing the windows/programs I was working with on my laptop. I was inadvertently overwriting the work I did at work when I would open my laptop later in the day. Dropbox, being uber efficient, was updating the files fine 🙂 . I did find, by using opening my dropbox account on the web, that you can search previous versions of folders and files and re-instate the one you need- thanks dropbox.

I also recently upgraded my dropbox storage and began paying for this extra space- imagine my surprise when Dropbox announced last week they were upgrading all pro- storage to 1TB for no extra charge! Very happy with that 🙂

Until next time

Fiona T

Paperless progress

A belated ‘Happy New Year’ to you all. Those who are regular followers will have noticed ‘My Paperless PhD’ has been very quiet since September least year. This is for a number of reasons, including actual progress in my PhD, working full time and working on conference papers too.

Today I had a ‘free’ half hour, so I thought it best used to give you a quick paperless update.

Since my confirmation of candidature in March last year, data gathering has been constant. I am using a range of data gathering tools, including interviews (recorded on my smartphone and backed up to a password protected cloud file) before being transcribed (using a program devised by Wonderful Husband- WH), and then also stored in a password protected file. Some parts of my data collection require paper, like the participants constructing Personal Meaning Making Maps (PMMM – based on Falk et al, 1997) which are drawn on A3 paper. These are then scanned and stored – you guessed it-  in a password protected file. I am finding it easier over time to correct my writing on the screen, though I do still print hard copies for final reading and editing. While not completely paperless I do feel like I am not using a forest to draft my work, and paper is used sparingly.

In terms of writing, I still find the ‘shut up and write’ pomodoro sessions very helpful, with our little group meeting on Friday morning for most of the year. These will start again soon, when semester gets back into swing.

In other news, 2 teacher friends of mine invited me to be a part of a review blog, aimed at Australian Parents  to find apps that will support their children in fun and learning too. Many apps reviewed so far are free, though the original idea was to assist parents in making informed choices in spending i-Tunes and similar cards. The blog is here: http://appsforaussiekids.blogspot.com.au  and the facebook page has a healthy following for being active for just under 10 days now. If this interests you, please follow along and support us – you may also want to suggest apps or write a guest post – email contact is available through the apps for aussie kids blog (on the right of the page).

I hope to be more active on this blog this year. I have many posts in mind…I just need time to write them!

Until next time

Fiona T


Falk, J. H., Moussouri, T., & Coulson, D. (1997). The effect of Visotors’ agendas on Museum Learning. Curator, 41(2), 107–120.

Literature Review and Confirmation: Preparing for Milestones

Over the last few weeks I have been busily writing and preparing for PhD Milestones, as well as starting back at work. It has been very busy! It is times like this when my PhD is clearly not just ‘my’ study, it is something my whole family and extended network are supporting, and in a very real way, working towards too. Thank you to everyone on my ‘team’!

When writing both the lit review and confirmation paperwork I found it difficult at first to hone all the ideas and supporting reading I have done in the last year, into one document. This troubled me, as I knew the ideas I was putting forward had come from great books, papers and sources. I went through my folder (with only a handful of printed articles) and combed through my far more extensive Mendeley data base. I went decidedly ‘non-paperless’ and bought post-it notes to help make sense of key ideas, references and quotes (thanks BB for this strategy), sticking them on a wall into a huge concept map. This concept map helped to form the first of what will be a continual editing process for the next few years of my (soon to be part time) PhD study.  Below is a panorama of the ‘wall’ in progress. I was able to take each key idea and write the sections far more comprehensively than the first attempt. panorama phd wall 2I am more determined to keep clearer notes to organise my reading and references. Mendeley will allow this, I just need to be more consistent. The ‘import to mendeley’ plugin for my browser often doesn’t transfer the authors of blogs/websites, and I now know I need to put these in straight away, as it is too time consuming to amend these records while writing. As I write more and more of my thesis, I am sure I will get more streamlined in the process of storing my references in a style that works for me.

This week I am continuing to prepare for my Confirmation Presentation, and at this stage I am more excited than nervous. Writing the confirmation paperwork has further consolidated my study focus, and what I hope to contribute from the research. Again, planning for and working towards these milestones can’t be easily done in a short space of time. My advice to those starting on the journey is to be aware from the beginning where these milestones fall and plan towards them, don’t avoid them. Even though I have been writing outlines towards this since November last year, I still feel like I could have developed the paperwork further if I had ‘more time’. Perhaps this is the lesson…working within a time frame is in itself a discipline that we need to embrace instead of lament. What do you think? How do you work to deadlines?

Until next week

Fiona T





Paperless…it’s all the rage!

As the title of my blog suggests, I am a big fan of going paperless when I can. I suppose this stems from my earliest years of teaching, when our staff office was mostly destroyed by fire. I am a paper hoarder and stacker,  so my desk was one of the worst affected as it had the most paper on it. This was in 1997, and there was no laptops for teachers at this stage, and only a few computers around for teacher use. It was then that I began to really use the computers (and disks) available to transfer all my planning and work to disk. The following year I began a Post Grad Diploma in ICT, and this added much needed skills and a shift in my thinking in what was possible with ICT, inside and outside the classroom.

I doesn’t seem surprising to me (or my nearest and dearest) that when I started my PhD journey I would need a new laptop, and that this blog has eventuated. I store increasingly more and more in various cloud based archives. For the last 4 weeks of my teaching I have had all of my presentations and resources stored in the cloud and accessed via the internet connection from the computer in my classroom. It has been great. I have also been promoting and modelling the use of EDMODO and our institutions LMS system for my classes.

This week, Thesis Whisperer posted this guest post from Marek Martyniszyn Going paperless part one: your desk « The Thesis Whisperer.  I liked it (I have 2 monitors at work), and some of the ideas resonated with where I have been and where I hope to go with this journey. The comments on the blog are also great, giving some alternative ideas and solutions to ‘go paperless’. So do pop over and have a read.

Like Thesis Whisperer, I find I still print off a few pages each month, these are mostly for formal letters or final proof reading of papers I am writing. I am happy that the majority of my reading is now on Menedely, with my annotations and notes easy to access and share.  My ideas and drafts are now being written into Evernote, using ‘Pomodoro’s ‘ while at ‘Shut up and Write’ sessions. I have also used google docs to collaborate with people on documents. As you can see there are a lot of ideas and techniques coming together for me at the moment, and as I head towards the end of my first year of candidature I feel quite well prepared and supported.

There are lots of ways of going paperless, what do you do? What is your favourite idea for going paperless?

Until next week

Fiona T

Mendeley vs EndNote -Guest Blog Post

This week one of my PhD friends, Hardimah Said,  has written a guest blog post for me. She has recently shifted her reference database from EndNote to Mendeley and agreed to write a review on her experience with Mendeley:

“I had heard about Mendeley quite a few times from friends and from reading some academic blogs, but I never really gave it a thought as my EndNote was doing a fine job for me so far. Until, recently, I came across this blog (a link recommended by one of the phdchat twitters, http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2012/08/20/organisation-research-library-mendeley-convert/
and I don’t know what ‘special’ effect this blog had, but it made me want to instantly give it a go. I surfed the Mendeley website and 30 minutes later I had a Mendeley account and all my references from EndNote were transferred to Mendeley too.

One feature of Mendeley that I love is that it allows the detailed notes on the right side of the same window. Whereas for EndNote, any specific reference that I want to look at in detail, will need to be opened as a new window. I also like the read and annotate feature which I can’t do in EndNote. And I found that whatever EndNote can do, Mendeley can do it too; such as the Microsoft Word Plug-in.

But overall, what I like the most about Mendeley is what EndNote can’t do*.  The backup feature which allows it to be synchronised to all other devices. This is a very convenient feature which is similar to Evernote (another great app that I rely on very much every day). So I now don’t have to worry anymore about updating & saving my Endnote from my office pc to my thumb-drive, and then do the same thing to my EndNote on my pc and mac at home. I have been ‘manually syncing’ EndNote this way for the last 2 years, so the auto sync feature in Mendeley is great. Another good feature which I love is that Mendeley can be opened on the iPhone or iPad, while EndNote can’t.  I usually use my iPhone in bed before going to sleep and so now I can check Mendeley or do some reading before I start dreaming.

For now, these are the reasons why I’m a happy convert to Mendeley although I know there are more great features of Mendeley that I know will be useful to me being in an academic profession such as; sharing papers, collaborating with friends and creating my own profile for own publication.

Hardimah Said.”

Thanks Hardimah! I have been enjoying the sync feature on Mendeley too, it does take the worry out of the backing up process.

I wonder what reference system you (my readers) are relying on? Is it EndNote, Mendeley or another program? As always, feel free to share in the comments below, or over on the facebook page.

Until next week,

Fiona T

*At this time ( October 2012) we don’t have access to the latest version of EndNote via our institution. Thanks to Tilla from EndNote for her comments about the increased functionality of EndNote6.  (Blog post updated 16th October 2012)

Thinking about ‘self’- extending mind and body to incorporate technology

One of my longtime friends and colleagues shared a clip on Facebook from a TedX talk and invited comments. I opened it up a new tab and this morning I had a chance to watch the 15 minute clip. I am writing these details because, if you reflect on my blog you will notice that it is becoming an example of what David Chalmers is talking about in this clip. People do ask me why I blog, and the key reason is that it is another way of using the ‘cloud’ and technologies to remember for me. I can write and reflect on various topics, all relating to my journey in my PhD and life at this time. It is stored in the ‘cloud’ and I can look at it when I need, and access links, and information (like my recipes) when I need them.  In time, I will be able to reflect on my whole journey, hopefully see growth in my writing and ideas as I emerge at the other end of this intensive learning journey.  So I invite you to watch and ponder the clip that got me thinking, thanks to the ‘extended consciousness’ now available via Facebook and my generous friend and colleague.


What did you think? Did David’s metaphor resonate with you? I liked the notebook, it is a reminder that humans have always relied on external storage for ideas and memories. The existence of the smart phone is making the storage of this information more secure (if you sync that is). I know my smartphone has reduced the level of stress in my life, as my appointments, phone numbers and Evernote are input and synced without me having to remember…and should the phone get stolen/lost I have it all backed up in the cloud.

I am also interested in how we identify ourselves using this technology. David touched on the idea that ‘google is making us smarter’. Indeed I feel less pressure to remember the trivia I used to, and know that I can use the expanse of the internets’  “collective consciousness” to find out anything I need to know in a ‘just in time’ capacity. From this paragraph perhaps you can see that I feel connected to and a part of this collective consciousness.  In my emerging self as an academic,  my self as a mother and wife, my self as a teacher, friend, and tatter, I draw on the ‘affordances’ of technology. This means that I use technology (my laptop, smartphone and internet for example) to store, source and synthesise a wide range of things in my life. Years ago I used notebooks and post-it notes, now it is mostly my smartphone, yet all of this has the same end purpose: to store and support my brain in recalling things important in my life.  I wonder how you ‘identify yourself’ using technology? Do they form an integral part of your life or professional identity?

Happy Father’s day to My Dad, WH and all the dads out there

Fiona T



Conference travel preparation.

The countdown is on! In less than 2 weeks I will be jetting off to the UK for my first International Conference.

I have been pondering and planning for this trip for a while now, and here is a link to my previous post on this topic.

After reading other blogs on conference travel I am under no illusion of getting a stack of reading done on the plane. In fact I am looking forward to the quiet (well relative quiet LOL) of not having to rush anywhere or do anything for quite a few hours.

I have found my case to be a little big for the carry on allowance the airline allows, so have sourced another case. I still did a trial pack though, into a smaller case, and think it will work out fine. I have 4 outfits that work with one pair of shoes and can cross co-ordinate these easily (yes, I’m only taking one pair of shoes!) :thinking in a minimalist way is getting easier. I am really proud that my toiletries bag is packed with the bare essentials, and have decanted creams and lotions into the teeny-tiny jars my BB found for us. Today I bought a bag that is between a handbag and a tote bag to be practical enough for plane and train travel and take to the conference. Of course there is always the option of shopping for something if I have really forgotten an essential item, but I don’t anticipate this as being necessary 🙂 .

Packing is only part of the logistics. The presentation will be fine and will be backed up on Prezi and Evernote. Insurance is sorted and tickets and accommodation. This week is busy with final bits and pieces as we get ready to jet off to this great opportunity.

The blog will be quiet for a couple of weeks while I am on this adventure, as I will be saving precious global data for skype calls home. I will post as soon as I can after I return.

See you all on the flip side!

Fiona T

Time management: It’s important to have a plan.

Those who have followed this blog for a while will know that I am now studying full time, with a little part time work and my family to organise. As I get busier I find that I am seeking out more blogs to see how other Mum’s (and some Dad’s) manage their time to effectively juggle their lives. Seeking balance is the main theme of these blogs, and sometimes they are successful and sometimes not. I like the honesty in many blogs, and am constantly reminded that we all need to reassess situations when things aren’t working. This term (Ok 2 weeks in) I think my ‘schedule’ is working well…here is why I think it is (and please remember I had a pretty rough term 1, it worked in some ways and other things didn’t)…

I have a teaching background and have learned to work in 45 minute blocks for planning, teaching and correction. While my time at the moment isn’t quite as structured, I do think of my day in blocks of time. Everyday I try to balance my time spent studying, working and ‘playing’.  I think it is quite important to set achievable goals for each day/week, and have found that by chipping away at my goals over the last few months, I have actually completed many tasks before the dates they were due and there has been no ‘mad rush’ to finish things.  There have been other things that have taken longer than I expected too, but it hasn’t been stressful to complete them and because of the way I have ‘chipped away’ I have known well in advance that the timeline I had set was unrealistic, and so was able to adapt this.

I am also using (and advocating) technology to help me use time effectively and reduce double handling of so many things. For example:

  • Party invitations my LT brings home get photographed and put straight onto Evernote, I check the date with my synced Google calendar on my phone and respond as soon as I can whether we can make it so it’s doesn’t get overlooked later in the week when I am working.
  • I am learning to use highlighting on my email and folders and documents I am working with. The colours I use helps me quickly pick up from where I left a project the day or week before. So a document in progress will be green (going), when a document is complete I change it’s highlight colour to orange (nearly done) and when I have printed/emailed/actioned it I change the colour to red (stop work).  This has really helped with a multitude of papers I have been reading and reviewing. I also send a progress copy and complete copy to Evernote for backup, in case my laptop plays up. (Yay Cloud!)

I have planned out a weekly schedule with all the “must-do’s” in it, and have some windows of time to catch up with a friend here and there. I find I work better with this written plan, and think that I need this visual to make sure I do use my time the best I can.

A while ago I came across this blog, how one man organises his ‘space’ to improve productivity. He outlines things like cutting down on time to ‘set up’ for the task, prioritising tasks and also having an idea of things you can do, even if you don’t really feel like it:

How Can I Increase My Productivity On My Side Projects At The End Of The Day When I’m Tired From Work? – Forbes.

Do you have hints/tips on how you maximise the use of your time? Please feel free to share in the comments here, or on the facebook page.

Until next week…

Fiona T

Here is a blog I wrote on my other blog last week. Yes, it reflects on craft, but it’s ideas and plan for action can be applied to any pursuit.


Fiona T

Planning for action, a guest blog from ‘One Mad Tatter’.

One Mad Tatter

I came across this blog post today and it made me think about a few things. This post could easily go into my other blog, but it resonated more with my ‘craft’ self, so here it is in this blog:   http://www.mysimplerlife.com/blog/new-idea

I took a long time to learn to tat. When I was about 17 or 18 years old I found a tatting book and blue plastic clover shuttle at a craft shop while on holidays. I thought I would teach myself! But try as I might, my rings kept locking.  I loved the idea of tatting (something beautiful made from knots)and proceeded to buy more books with instructions and beautiful patterns….I kept trying for a few weeks each year (usually summer when it was too hot to knit) and still couldn’t master the sliding ring.  After quite a while I could do a lovely double stitch, but not…

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Evernote story at MKA | edSocialMedia

Evernote story at MKA | edSocialMedia.

It is no secret that I love Evernote! Here is just a quick snippet post to show how one school uses Evernote to support learning and teaching in it’s school. It is a way of giving both students and teachers a way to keep track of work and developing ideas. It supports collaboration and the use of photos and audio files to track learning. I see it as a step towards supporting 21st Century learners, regardless of age, to work ‘smarter, not harder’.

How would Evernote improve learning and teaching in your school? How could it help stream line your personal life and organisation?

Fiona T

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