Digital Disorganisation & Parenting: Part 2 - Digital Literacy Dover

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Digital Disorganisation & Parenting: Part 2

Digital Organisation Essentials
As explained in Part 1, parents generally struggle to model effective practices when it comes to the organisation of their digital devices, but it's not all doom and gloom. When it comes to the use of digital tools for organisation, many—if not most parents—embraced these with enthusiasm some time ago, and are now generally very proficient in their use. What they don't often realise, is that they could and should encourage their children to use similar tools, in the same way, and for the same reason they do. 

Where there can be confusion, is which tools to use, as there are a plethora of them out there; so in this post I will outline the tools we encourage our students to use. While these may not be the same as the tools parents use, they will be very similar, and the ways to use them effectively will be identical. So whether they're using Apple Reminders, or Evernote, or Google Keep is not the focus, it's not about the nouns, it's about the verbs, or to put it another way it's not what you use, it's how you use it.

As our students progress through the college in primary and middle school they are expected to use a paper organiser. At the end of Grade 8, in preparation for High School where they have the freedom to choose whatever system they like, we formally introduce them to the wonderful world of digital organisation tools at the start of term 3. What follows summarises our plans for our Middle School students as they prepare to make the leap from paper and pencil, to pixels and dings.

Google tools

As a school that relies heavily on Google Apps it makes sense for us to utlise those as they are just a click away from the GMail inbox and Google Drive that they've been using for many years. The slide deck shared at the top of this outlines how to set these tools up, but to summarise, we expect students to use:

  1. their Google Calendar to manage their timetable, adding other events from their busy lives, such as sporting events, activities, service, and rehearsals et cetera. 
  2. the To-Do panel in our online learning platform (Teamie) to keep track of homework deadlines. 
  3. Google Keep (or similar) for everything else, ie reminders, lists, and notes. 

Blended organisation

Many parents, and many of our students may prefer a more 'blended' approach—having a paper organiser for some items and areas, and using digital tools for others. If you do decide to use this approach, an important consideration is that you need to make sure that with one or both of these you are transferring events, otherwise you can end up with clashes between events, because one is recorded on paper and not included on the digital calendar, or vice versa. This does mean a certain amount of duplication, which for me was the reason why I eventually abandoned this approach, and switched to digital tools completely.

Why go digital? 

There are many reasons, but a brief summary follows, focused on the 'transformational' power of digital tools, ie what digital organisational tools can do that traditional tools cannot:

  • Situated: unlike a paper organiser, digital organisation tools can be anywhere you are with a digital device, synced across all the devices you have connected, and all kept in sync in real time. 
  • Access: an idea, an image, a quote, a website, a video, a document, a reminder, a list, all a click or two away, and a copy/paste makes it easy to locate later, or/and to annotate with some simple notes. Best of all, it's searchable, no more flicking through pages desperately skimming for that snippet of information. 
  • Multimodal: Now you are not limited to text or to a hastily scribbled scrawl on the back of a proverbial envelope—notes can be a quick picture, or short video, or an audio recording. You can even dictate straight into your notes (just pretend you're on the phone 😉) Best of all are the audio notifications; that 'ding!' is incredibly useful. 
  • Mutable: Need to change that date, that time, that place? Update/edit that note? Changed your mind? Need to add clarification? No problem,  and no crossed out entries in your planner. 
  • Social: with a few clicks, notes, and calendar events can be shared with one or many. For parents in particular, if you can persuade your child to share their calendar with you, you will find much easier to keep track of what they're doing, and where they are, or where they should be...

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