Over the past couple of months I’ve been moving more and more of my content online. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always put my teaching and presentation materials online, but now I’m completely building everything in Google Apps, Google Drive, and Evernote. I’ve written about my workflow plenty of times. To summarize these earlier posts: 1) I don’t use Microsoft Office; 2) I use Evernote to save every little thing I read, write, and synthesize; 3) I use Google Drive and Google Apps to write, create, and share everything.
There are two main reasons why I avoid using Office-like products, and why I chose to use this workflow. The two tenets that frame my workflow are that I need a device agnostic policy, and I need ubiquitous access to my content.
Device agnostic policy
A device agnostic policy means that I use pretty much any digital tool that I can get my hands on. I use a dual-monitor MacBook Pro at my office. I have a dual-monitor PC at home that I built. I am attached to my Android smartphone. I carry around an iPad and a Chromebook on the road. When I teach, or give presentations there are (almost always) Internet connected computers attached to the projector. I also have three or four other devices that are always within an arms reach while at home that my Wife or son use…that I need to troubleshoot. I need to be able to use, and access my content on all of these device at a given time.
This is what my life looks like on an average day. While at my office, I’m working on my Mac and wrapping up materials in Google Presenter for a talk I’ll give the next day. I go home and the next morning finish up the presentation materials on my PC. I embed the presentation on my blog and send out through the various social networks. This allows me to direct the conference participants to my presentation materials…and connect back to me for questions. During lunch at the conference I use my phone and Chromebook to get caught up on some grant materials, a chapter proposal, and review some student work…all in Google Docs. After the conference I head back to work listening to Ender’s Game on my phone. At work I open up my Mac again and finish up my Google Presentation for my Ed Psych class that night and it automatically updates on the class Wikispaces site. I log off of the Mac, head on down the hall to class, log in to Google Drive and give a lecture on reliability, standardization, validity, and practicality of assessments to my students. Finally, I head home and pass out. 🙂
The reason I’m sharing what I did, and the tools I used to complete these tasks is that I have to work across multiple platforms and devices. I’m thinking that you probably have to do the same. Previously I carried around the MacBook Pro everywhere. I once even carried it on a small commuter plane (and crashed the HD) on vacation to Charleston. Now, I use whatever device I have close to me. It doesn’t matter if it is a Chromebook, a friend’s computer, a phone, a tablet, etc. My goal in developing my workflow is to make sure that it is device agnostic.
Ubiquitous access to content
The second tenet that I strive for as I develop and tweak my workflow is that I need ubiquitous access to my content. In the account of my day that I shared above, none of that would be possible if I did not have access to my materials (all of my materials) everywhere I go. I can’t work from home, save a Word doc to my PC, worry about moving it to a flash drive and then bring that flash drive to work, or the conference, or class. This also applies to saving documents in Dropbox, emailing them to myself, or all of the other tricks that we use. I need the latest version available automatically. This means that when I work in Google Presenter at work, then home, then class…I don’t worry about which is the most recent version. This also means that when working on a chapter or article with a colleague, I don’t worry about which draft we’re on, or who edited last. I can dip in to a Google Doc for 15 minutes during the day, make edits, and then revisit the document later that night to write a bit more. Ubiquitous access to my content makes sure that my documents, videos, images…everything…is available to me as long as I can connect to the Internet.
Because we live in a world where we cannot always be connected to the Internet, I also make sure my Chromebook will save offline versions of files…and do the same on the iPad. I’ve seen too many colleagues have their presentations ruined by showing up for a talk and not being able to connect to the Internet. I have an offline version saved on the Chromebook/iPad just in case I get stuck. I have it on both devices since I’ve had issues connecting the Chromebook to VGA projectors.
Develop and focus on YOUR workflow and work process
Please keep in mind that my use of Evernote, or Google Apps is a choice that works for me. I think it could/should work for you. I think that there are a ton of other great digital texts and tools out there that can work just as good (or better) for you. These platforms work well for me…but only because I work them well. I started using Google Docs and Word, and then began transitioning over to using Evernote and Google Docs. Finally I gave up on Word after my dissertation when I no longer had to send Word docs back and forth for editing. I also constantly tweak, test, and try to improve my use of these tools. I read sites like Lifehacker to try and find the best way to Get Things Done. You can see how my workflow has evolved over a year by looking at these two blog posts.
If you have a different way to work, or different tools…and it works for you…great. For me I need a workflow that is device agnostic and allows for ubiquitous access to my content.
Image CC by fer1972