A teacher, Mike, recently told me about his student who was ready to submit an assignment, but he couldn’t remember where he had digitally saved it, and so he had to create the assignment again. Aauugghh!
Technology provides us with vast ways to find, store, and use information, but students need instruction, modeling, and practice developing the digital organization skills needed for success. Try these tips for helping students develop what could be life-long habits.
Utilize an online tool for keeping track of web resources. Online tools for cultivating web resources let you sort favorite websites into folders or collections that can be tagged for easy retrieval and shared with others. Zotero and Diigo, social bookmarking websites, give the option of adding an icon onto the browser toolbar for easy saving of websites and letting users form groups for easy sharing of websites. Pinterest displays your favorite websites by visual image and can be used to organize resources by topics.
Use project folders to organize resources. Whenever beginning a project, my first step is to create a new folder on my desktop, and then I begin adding whatever resources or assets I may come across or develop myself. On my iPad, I use the share icon to put a website link onto my desktop, and join it with others to form a folder.
Teach tips for matching information with its source. When I find useful information on a website, I can make notes on the information and connect it to the website url by using the comment feature on a word processed document. The research feature within Google Docs lets a user search online for more information while still working within the document instead of toggling back and forth between webpages and the document.
Create a system for saving drafts and finished products. I label my documents and projects in a similar way each time, including the title, date, and draft version, then immediately save it to the project folder. I save a work-in-progress or finished product onto my cloud storage space (iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, Box) for safekeeping and convenience.
Be sure to share with students what works for you and some of your digital organization disasters – like the story of my colleague who spilled a cup of coffee on her laptop and lost everything. If we can instill these habits early maybe we can avoid disasters and spare students the pain and anguish of Mike’s student.