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Administration, Education, Leadership, Professional Development, Social Media, Teaching, Technology

Productivity Tools for Educators

I am probably the last person who should be writing a blog post on productivity – there are many who would attest to this fact. I often struggle to balance responsibilities and I frequently feel like I am scrambling to efficiently manage my time. That being said, I am also a firm believer in the purposeful use of technology to improve productivity and accessibility to critical information. As a school administrator, I have had to adjust my time and task management systems to address a wide variety of responsibilities and a plethora of paperwork and emails. While paper has its place, I am a firm believer that, in education, we use way too much. The printers and risograph machines whir incessantly. Scantrons, homework assignments, referral forms and even printed emails pile upon on desks, baskets and notebooks. Not only is the use of paper often an unnecessary waste of resources, it can be a substantial financial drain on the school budget.

In addition to be good stewards of our resources, believe that an important responsibility of a 21st educator is the purposeful modeling of instructional technology. That being said, neither teachers or administrators have time for contrived implementation of tech tools – it should serve a purpose and lead to more effective practice. Over the course of my school administrative experiences I have gradually developed systems for managing tasks and duties that minimize the necessity of paper and provide nearly universal access to the notes, paperwork and documentation needed to effectively carry out my responsibilities. It is a work in progress, but I have decided to share the web 2.0 tools I use on a day-to-day basis to improve my efficiency and model technology usage for our teaching staff. While these descriptions have a decidedly administrative slant, each tool is easily adapted for classroom use.

1. Google Docs

Google Docs has become a “go to” app for collaborative documentation. Meeting agendas are developed and distributed via a shared document. Data and required information is collected using forms and spreadsheets. This might include student interest surveys, parent feedback forms or school-wide data collection efforts from staff members. The sharing options make it easy to collect, organize and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. In addition, documents created using the Google suite are nearly universally accessible via any computer or mobile device.

2. Evernote

Evernote is a virtual filing cabinet, complete with an extremely functional tagging and search system. It is great for taking notes, but for me, the beauty of Evernote lies in the ability to capture images and save those scraps of paper and information that find their way onto my desk. Many times, these are reference items that I am never quite sure how to handle. With Evernote, I simply scan, or snap a picture of the item and upload it to my account, thus eliminating those papers that tend to create piles in my office. The Evernote mobile app is great for making notes during classroom visits, recording examples of student work, and documenting professional development activities. As with Google Docs, access to Evernote is nearly ubiquitous – keeping critical information at your fingertips.

3. Dropbox

There have been many education related uses for Dropbox documented on the web. I primarily use my Dropbox account to store current project files so that I am able to access them wherever they are needed – at home, the office, in classrooms, or meetings. It is great to have this information at my fingertips when it is truly needed and it saves me from having to carry around multiple notebooks, files, and loose papers. File sharing with Dropbox is a simple task, allowing for collaborative endeavors. Many apps provide opportunities for syncing with Dropbox, providing an easy method of consolidating work in one place.

4. Wunderlist

Wunderlist is the newest addition to my suite of productivity applications. For some time I have had an unhealthy obsession with finding the perfect task manager – one that might tell me exactly what to do next, or possibly even complete my tasks for me. Well, Wunderlist doesn’t exactly do either of those things, but it does meet other criteria for an effective productivity app: it has an intuitive interface, is easy to use, is accessible from virtually anywhere, and has enough functionality to effectively manage a multitude of tasks. Wunderlist allows the user to collect tasks in an “inbox” and then organize items (if so desired) into an unlimited number of lists. Lists may be shared with others so that teams may work collaboratively on identified tasks. As much as I have enjoyed using Wunderlist, I am anxiously awaiting the release of another 6Wunderkinder product, Wunderkit. I am hopeful that Wunderkit, due for beta release in early 2012, will provide even greater (yet still affordable) opportunities for project management and team collaboration.

5. Posterous

Sharing information and staying connected is a vital aspect of educational professionalism. Posterous is a simple blogging platform that allows users to easily share ideas and participate in conversations to enhance professional development. I currently utilize Posterous as an addendum to my WordPress blog because it is so easy to create and share posts. Meteoric Musings allows me to publicize quick thoughts, examples of student work, and ideas that don’t require a great deal of fleshing out. This year, I plan to use Posterous for a 365 day photo project and will be making a more concerted effort to post on a regular basis. Posterous is a great platform for beginners and they have a great mobile app that makes posting on the go an easy task.

6. Twitter

There is not much need for me to go into a lot of detail about the benefits of Twitter for educators. I have written about the value I see in this social media tool in other posts (see 5 Reasons I Use Twitter and You Should Too). Twitter has been a professional development goldmine – providing access to engaging conversations and outstanding resources. It is so important for educators to develop connections with colleagues in different schools, districts, states, and countries. Twitter is an invaluable tool for doing just that.

These are just a handful of the tools I use in an effort to increase my personal productivity and model the use of web 2.0 tools for colleagues. There are many others worth considering (Pinboard, Diigo, Prezi, etc.). Whether using one of these applications, or anything else, the key is to find tools that work for you and share your experiences with others.

Feel free to share your favorite web 2.0 productivity and networking tools.

About azjd

Junior high principal by day, aspiring difference maker, and Jedi in my own mind. Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.


6 thoughts on “Productivity Tools for Educators

  1. Wonderful blog i plan on reading alot more of your posts soon

    Posted by Shaun | January 30, 2012, 9:00 am
  2. I firmly believe time management is the only way to juggle tasks throughout the day and in life, I really appreciate this blog post. It’s a good thing we can do everything via computer,iPad,iPhone and anything else u need too. Being multitask is a great way to get things done. I will be commenting on quite a few of ur posts. Thanks Jeff

    Posted by Shaun Coleman | January 31, 2012, 10:13 pm
  3. Mr. Delp,

    I am an EDM310 student at the University of South Alabama. Here is a link to our class blog. I too am an avid user of most of the programs you listed. I am eager to try out Wunderlist because I believe it will help me manage the multitude of tasks that I have have a mother, business owner and student. If I did not have my iPhone, I can honestly say that my life would be a hectic mess. I struggled for many years trying to find those important notes written on those little bitty papers. It was very frustrating and time consuming. Now, by utilizing one of my many apps, I can easily access notes and quickly move onto the next task at hand. My life is extremely busy, so time management is of the utmost importance.

    I believe as educators in the 21st Century technology has to be a tool that is utilized more. It is our job to teach them how to use it effectively, safely and wisely. I hope to see more schools in our area utilize products such as the iPad and iTouch. Thank you for your posts. I look forward to reading through a few more of them. Here is a link to my blog, as well as my twitter account, should you want to hear more on my thoughts regarding technology in the classroom.

    Posted by Miranda Bounds | February 24, 2012, 7:39 pm
  4. Mr. Delp,
    Thank you for sharing your experience and resources! I am a student at the University of South Alabama and a future educator. Most, if not all, of the resources you described are being highlighted as useful tools in our current Education in Media class. I haven’t taken advantage of Wunderlist yet, but now I certainly plan on taking a look at it. Your assessment of these tools has served as reinforcement that what we are learning will translate practically into our careers. I appreciate your honesty about time-management issues. I know it is something that many students as well as teachers struggle to take control over. New technologies allow us to efficiently organize and plan without the stereotypical desk full of papers. I am slowly learning to be a paperless student, and I can only hope that all the classrooms of the future will be essentially paperless as well. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience.

    Posted by Jessica Bonner | March 25, 2012, 8:14 pm
  5. Mr. Delp,
    I am a EDM310 student at the University of South Alabama. I can say that I too can relate to you about time management. Since taking EDM310 I have learned that my time management is of the up most importance. I am learning to take control of my time and become better organized. I can see how the different apps can help make my life a little bit more organized. Mr. Delp I believe the information you have shared in this blog will broaden my horizon on the different apps that are available. Dr. Strange actually uses Google Docs with our classes. I believe this does cut down tremendously on paper use. I also believe it helps people become a little more tech savvy. There are several apps I had never used until taking EDM310. I would say one of my favorites so far that I used was Prezi. I believe Prezi is a great way to allow me to use my creativity and share information with my students. Here is the link to my Prezi presentation http://prezi.com/l_wizbkzdcly/presidents-of-the-united-states/. Please check it out and let me know what you think!

    Posted by LaShunda Barnes | April 13, 2012, 2:46 pm
  6. Hi MR. Delp,
    A am currently a college student that is in need of some time management skill. I found a few of the source that you listed to very helpful.A few of the source I was already aware of such as twitter and dropbox. The other three source are new to me and i plan of making good use of the right away.Evernote caught my attention the most.I love the fact that you can take notes with it.Evernotes can help save me a lot of money on paper and is better for the environment. this will help me stay organized because i can just go right to the computer and find my notes instead of flipping throw pages.

    Posted by Kabrina Harris | September 27, 2012, 8:40 pm

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Jeff Delp

Junior high principal by day, sports enthusiast, technology fanatic and jedi in my own mind. Striving to be a difference maker!
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