Monday, March 15, 2010

Dealing with all of the information, ideas and projects

Supporting innovation and continual growth is an important part of the job of an administrator. Seeking ways to model and encourage integration of technology, building a vision for the future and staying on top of new developments and research can be a full time job. The use of social networking tools in my professional life like Twitter, and Ning helps me access the information I need to do my job. However, I find that often when I am filtering the information flow that my focus is on tools, research, or ideas that will empower  the teachers and meet specific needs they have identified.But sometimes we also need to ask what tools are best suited to support and help administrators?

Looking through my toolbox, I rediscovered a tool, which I would argue, has huge potential to organize and simplify my life as an administrator. There are other tools I use but Evernote is a game changer. One of the most difficult things about administration is the multitude of roles, concerns, projects and stakeholders we work with on a daily basis. Evernote works with all your computing devices and is a place to put all of that information whether it is project ideas, to do lists, expense receipts, business cards, web pages, notes from a meeting or conference, or a voice memo about a classroom observation. This blog post steered me back to Evernote and one of the things that really makes this work for me is the concept he mentions of keeping it simple by having a default inbox where everything goes. Often I am clipping web pages, making notes or collecting business cards on the fly and then I can take a few moments at the end of the day to reflect, tag and categorize. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Evernote, in my opinion, is its ability to search photos of hand written text, or of business cards. At the conference I attended last week I snapped a picture of each business card as I received it and through Evernote it was synched to all of my computing devices and I could search by any information on the card to find it again.

Every day is a busy time for administrators and right now we are looking toward the end of the year and planning for next year. Perhaps, Evernote is one way to make all of that work easier. What tools would you suggest to support and help administrators?

Cross posted LeaderTalk

Photo from Flickr by verbeeldingskr8

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Does Twitter cause writer's block?

Does Twitter cause writer’s block?
Last year at NECC ( now known as ISTE) several well known bloggers talked about how in many respects twitter had replaced blogging. I was aghast, thinking how can twitter take the place of blogging. Now one year later I am on twitter everyday and writing…well almost never. I do not necessarily think this a good thing but it may be an acceptable thing….a stage in finding an equilibrium in this information rich, interactive world.
I feel strongly that blogging and twittering can serve fundamentally different purposes but there is also some significant overlap. Twitter and blogging can both be about exchange of ideas and conversation. The development of lists in twitter, tools like tweetdeck which helps you organize your feeds and the use of hash marks all have made to concept of twitter conversations a reality. In many ways twitter is a better platform for conversation than blogs are unless you have a strong readership and comment base on your blog.
The fundamental difference, in my opinion, comes from the nature of the two platforms. Twitter is just in time connections, instantaneous discussion, and a ready source of resource for cutting edge developments in news, technology, software, productivity tools , classroom applications and educational research. Blogs can provide similar information and in fact twitter often points me to useful blog posts. On a personal level however it seems to me that “to blog” is an essentially different experience. Blogging is a place for reflective thinking. For me it means taking time to pick and choose from the information stream those things which resonate with me and/or challenge me and/or connect with the reality of my community. It means taking time to ponder those things to formulate my own understandings and then write about them to help reflect, clarify my thoughts and open these ideas to conversation.
Twitter has increased my contact with my personal learning network (PLN) and increased my exposure to ideas and information. Everyday twitter provides new links for my diigo account and new resources or tools to pass on to my colleagues at school. It is easy to get caught up in what seems a prolific and productive connection with my PLN but it is not enough. I need to take time to process, to think, to reflect and therefore I need to write…. It is time to find my way into the next stage…