One of the most common questions I have encountered this year is "How do I organized all of these digital things?" The hardest part of this question is defining the "things" we are hoping to organize. For this reason, I have divided my recommendation into 3 different levels. These applications are centered around the organization of tasks, reminders, and digital resources.
Level 1: Free, simple, and familiar Google tools (Google Keep and Reminders)
Level 2: Free and collaborative task management with Wunderlist
Level 3: A powerful, do it all, pin-board application called Trello
I have chosen not to include a popular application called Evernote because there is a significant cost to access the tool set. I think Evernote is great, but as I have stated before, my goal is to provide tools with little to no cost for the user.
Let's dive in.
Level 1 - Google Apps (Keep/reminders)
As a Google Apps for Education district, we have a large set of tools at our disposal. If you haven't used Google Keep before, we'll think of it as Digital Post-It notes.
Pros: Easy to use, impossible to lose a note, familiar format for an easy digital transition, Sticky notes can be assigned to categories, A chrome extension can be added to help you save websites and digital materials directly to Keep with one click.
Cons: It's basic, what you see is what you get... (I think this is a pro for those looking for a simple solution)
Summary: If you are looking for more power, continue to Level 2, but I think many of our faculty and staff will find a home with Google Keep if they persist and make it part of the routine.
Level 2 - Wunderlist
Wunderlist was my gateway to collaborative digital task management a few years ago. This is a to-do list style platform. If you like to make to-do lists and want checkboxes with a satisfying "bell" sound when you check them off, then Wunderlist is the app for you. Wunderlist also makes it easy to share lists with others.
Pros: Pretty simple and intuitive to use, I like that you can assign notes to subtasks, Collaborative (lists can be shared with others to help with group tasks), That bell sound is very satisfying and can be addictive!
Cons: Definitely more of an investment to get going, Requires installation of additional apps on your computer (Google tools are just accessed through the internet browser, The notes section a welcome addition but pretty limited.
Summary: If you are looking for more options and collaborative options, I believe Wunderlist is a wonderful step to take. The ability to add subtasks and notes can be extremely helpful when you are unable to finish larger projects in one prep period. On a personal note, the Langer family grocery list now lives on Wunderlist so we never forget an item.
Getting Started with Wunderlist Video
Level 3 - Trello
Trello... Wow, what a tremendously powerful and free system for all types of task and project management. I moved to this platform about a year ago and it has made a major impact on my ability to organize my work tasks. Essentially, they have built a digital bulletin board, but you can have multiple. I have a pin-board for Instructional Coaching, General Teaching, Clubs I Advise, Resources I don't want to lose. While Pintrest is a pin-board style setup, it is more social media based. Trello is a legitimate powerhouse for managing tasks, collaborating on projects, and keeping track of the many hats we wear as educators.
Pros: By far the most powerful and visually appealing option in task management. Integrates and facilitates most projects and tasks the way I need it to. It is collaborative if you want it to be and private when you need it to be. Subtasks, links, resources, due dates, and a ton of other features can be added to individual cards. Each card can have independent alerts setup as well.
Cons: This will be intimidating for some people. The capability is high, but so is the investment at first.
Summary: I am impressed with Trello on many levels but I love how it integrates with all types of links and platforms very well. I find the drag and drop setup to be very intuitive even though you can get so deep into tasks and subtasks. It will take time to learn, but if you start with one board, one list, and a set of cards, the learning curve is manageable.
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