This is post number one for our #saskedchat blogging challenge. I am just one day away from missing the deadline (new challenges are presented Thursday/Friday). Man, what a week to decide to start a challenge: report cards, beginning of new semester, my wife away for the entire week at a couple of conferences and me home with the three kids. I’m not complaining, but I am glad I have a little bit of energy left to get to this on this fine Wednesday evening.
I am always looking for new tools and ways of keeping organized, connected, and decreasing the glitches and hangups in my workflow. There are two tools that I am using that help me stay organized. iCloud and Planboard.
For those who are unaware, iCloud is Apple’s way of accessing documents across multiple devices. If you write something in their word processing app (Pages) and then close the app, the idea is that you could pick up on another device like another computer, your iPad or iPhone. iCloud also maintains a web portal with your calendar, mail, and more recently pages, numbers and keynote files. (Pages is the equivalent of Microsoft Word, Numbers is the equivalent of Excel, and Keynote is a superior version of Powerpoint). The web portal of these apps is still in beta but has improved over the years.
About one year ago, Apple’s iCloud was a pretty average online portal and a rather glitchy way of using documents across multiple devices. I lost all documents following some kind of update. A number of times I would shake my fist at the computer screen when a document wouldn’t sync: I would show up at school to try to find my day plan, and it wasn’t there. And it took for ever for the online portal version of the pages program to allow editing of tables. This was a big deal – all my day plans and unit plans were in tables, so I wasn’t able to edit these files on our school machines.
But don’t let that last horrible paragraph scare you away. The iCloud service, in tandem with Pages and Keynote, is my go to way of organizing my documents and presentations. The syncing between devices is very quick and I’m finding very few glitches, errors or loss of data. The web portal is amazing now. Our school machines are PCs but I can edit documents through the iCloud web portal, I can set up my presentations on my iPad, Mac or iPhone and still present on my classroom PC to my SmartBoard. iCloud has made working with documents and presentations very easy, making them readily accessible across multiple machines running different operating systems. This has made finding, managing and storing files very easy, and has made this part of my workflow very simple.
I’ve been a teacher for just under 4 years. I have never used paper for a day plan, but I had been using an inefficient and multiple file method of creating day plans in a word processor. There was a twitter point that came across my path at one point during this school year. It was about another online web service called Planboard, and so I decided to check it out.
Planboard is a web-based free day planner. You set up your schedule, you can attach curriculum expectations to your courses/subjects and you can even break things down into units. My reason for continuing to use planboard over my old method is the fact that I can attach documents into my day plan, and I don’t have a separate file for each day of the week and a separate week plan. Planboard allows me to access my day plan and week plan, on any machine. If I’m on a school system I can then access my associated documents and print them using the school printers. Such a better tool for organizing all of my day plans into one place. It has been very easy, and is much better than having a pages document with plans, a flash drive with some pdfs that need to be printed and trying to remember which weird file names on my flash drive go with which course.
Some other great features about Planboard. You can copy entire courses or units into new terms and semesters. If you don’t have time to do a lesson, or need to continue with the same content for another day you can shift all lessons forward for that course. Great little features that make continued use of this service even better.
I very much appreciate when technology actually makes work easier, and with iCloud and Planboard, I find that the technology is serving it’s purpose and making things that much easier to do.