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

Evernote Review (Part 4)

Yes, Yes, I know. Even my students now roll their eyes when I say ‘Evernote’….but this week I have helped 2 more people streamline parts of their lives by using Evernote. As far as I can see Evernote keeps getting better and I am learning more about how to use it more effectively too.

A couple of weeks ago Evernote upgraded the usability of their free package, this now includes the ability to store office documents (excel, word, powerpoint), previously only available to premium users.  This is a fantastic step towards supporting teachers, students and schools to utilise this functional and free cloud based storage to work and share.

I have also had opportunity in the last few weeks to compare Evernote more closely with drop box (for a good blog on how this can help students see  Claire O’Neill’s blog). There are similarities between the basics of the two but the biggest differences I can see (please let me know if I am mistaken) are:

  • Files in dropbox need to be physically updated to make sure they are the newest version (by dragging new files to it). Evernote allows you to work on notes, or documents and save back to Evernote, meaning that you will always have the most up to date version synced. This can then be accessed via internet, computer, tablet, or smart phone.
  • Evernote also has options to record voice notes, take pictures and then add text etc onto Evernote directly. This means there is no need to work in another package and transfer to Evernote. My LT is having heaps of fun writing notes, taking pictures and reading stories onto Evernote, he was even able to show them to his class at school using the interactive white board. I have also used the audio recording feature recently to record practice interviews and then later listen back to them and transcribe them onto the same note in Evernote. I believe to do this on drop box I would have to record the audio file in another application and then transcribe to a word or other text based file, and put both files physically into drop box.
  • Individual notes or whole notebooks can be shared via email with non-Evernote users. I have the impression with drop box that you share the whole folder/box with others (again, correct me if I am mistaken).

So Evernote is working really well for me (and no, I am not getting a ‘kick back’ from Evernote…I just really like it)

Do you use Evernote? Do you use Onenote? Do you use Drop Box? Do you use Google Docs? Is there another ‘free’ cloud tool That you like to use?

Until Next Week

Happy Studyng,

Fiona T

Why I like the Cloud…Prezi and stuff

Two posts in a weekend? Yes, and you can tell I am excited.

When I first started teaching and presenting I was interested in getting kids learning and presenting their learning in interesting ways. I have always worked in State schools, where funding and resourcing are stretched, and so was always interested in free and dynamic ICT tools. My first forays were into using Word, Publisher (which is now returning to the office package), Excel and Powerpoint with students. Yes, there is other software, some designed specifically for education, however I was never going to be able to get it in my schools, especially if this software only does one or two things, it just wont get used long term. So my first statewide presentations were about creative ways to use the software schools already had, and most schools had MSoffice.

Then, a few years later the ‘Intel Teach to the Future’ program was launched. I became a Master Trainer in this exciting project, that among other things, promoted the use of Office tools to use with students in the classroom.

Today I am reflecting on this journey. Those who are following my blog know that I am loving the free tools out there that can help organise study and work (evernote, drop box, google docs) and also have the added backup of the ‘cloud’ to help me access my ongoing projects from anywhere that I have an internet connection. In this vein I am very excited to have found (via a lovely student) and be using Prezi. Here is a link to a short presentation I made this morning, I have been using this tool for less than 5 hours now (and have done washing and bathed LT)…it’s quite fun http://prezi.com/8biqyansbnhp/why-i-like-prezi-and-the-cloud-in-general/

Now I have to get off the computer and let LT make his Prezi on lego…

Have fun!

Fiona

Evernote Review (Part 1)

I have now created an Evernote account and am busy seeing what this offers to my pursuit of a Paperless PhD.

First, I am impressed that there is quite a bit of storage available on the free version, so it may be supportive of my ‘financially neutral’ philosophy. Also, I am pleased to report, that the premium package is a mere $45 for a year…I have spent more on shoes 🙂 So If I think the increased functionality is what I need to streamline my study further, this upgrade would be a possibility.

So once signed up for my free account I was faced with a blank canvas, it is neatly set out and works around you creating ‘notebooks’ to place files in. You can write a note directly in the text box on the right hand side. Easy. There are also videos to watch to show you how to use the interface. Another great thing is that it is set up to work across devices, so you can access your storage from any computer, tablet or mobile device. It seems to be very friendly 🙂

My next mission was to upload a PDF (portable document format) file to an Evernote notebook. I searched the page and couldn’t locate an ‘upload’ or ‘attach file’ button…hmmm. Looking in my settings menu I noticed a special email address for my account…light bulb moment…you need to email to your Evernote page. A few seconds later and the three PDF files I had read and annotated over the last couple of days appeared upon my new Evernote. I was able to drag and drop them into a new notebook I created for PDF files.

Now the true test was to see if my comments transferred with the PDF file, as googledocs was unable to do this. Here is the interesting thing about Evernote, it stores the whole file. To read it, you don’t see it in a reader like on google docs, it allows you to download the document to your mobile device to be read. So in terms of archiving information, Evernote is brilliant and keeps your files exactly as they have been uploaded. However, I have yet to find a way of working on the file online, as I can in googledocs if need be. Notebooks in Evernote can be shared through Facebook or email.

Evernote also works with google accounts and a google notebook can be uploaded to Evernote at the press of a button. I was also able to send a text based email and it became a note instantly.

The only hiccup is word documents, it won’t upload them unless you have the premium package*. So this is the only drawback, so at this stage I will be unable to have all of my resources and work in the one place. I can cut and paste the content of the word document into an email and this becomes a note, with comments I have added appearing as a hyper-linked footnote. I see this as an option to back up some of my work in progress as they can be edited in the Evernote browser.

At this stage, I see myself working between googledocs and Evernote, both provide different types of backup for my developing body of work, and both allow me to select people to view and input as necessary.

Does anyone else have experience with an online tool that will allow me to combine everything in one place? What do you use? How does it make your work or study easier?

*Evernote now allows uploads of word, powerpoint and excel files in it’s free account. These can be edited and saved within Evernote. this blog post was amended on 1/8/12.

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