Sunday, January 31, 2016

Organizing your research and interests

Important to our school district's two-year human-centered design project is the gathering of secondary resources to combine with interview data to identify and analyze patterns that will point our design thinking towards prototyping and other action. I've found that educators sometimes have very weak skills in finding, evaluating and storing this type of research because they've done so little of it since their undergrad days.

For me, the most effective Internet search tool for resources I'm interested in is through Twitter and relevant hashtags. Because I use Tweetdeck on my MacBook Air with multiple feed columns based on hashtags or lists for relevant topics, much of the research comes to me instead of wasting hours on Google or other similar search machines. When I quickly peruse the latest Tweets that come in, if I spot a link that interests me I can quickly scan it and decide if it's something I want to share or explore in more depth. I can then either bookmark the article/post or favorite it in my Tweetdeck feed for later.

One other organizing tool I use is called DEVONthink which allows me to quickly drag a link or article into an Inbox (the general inbox or a folder I've set up for a topic) for later. DEVONthink is a powerful research and writing tool because it has the capability of searching your resources based on tags or topics. I've only begun to better understand how to use this power.

Online sources that are particularly relevant to me I bookmark in my RSS reader and follow their posts more closely. I use Protopage as my reader because its so simple to add another source and organize them by my interests (i.e., News, Education, Detroit Red Wings, Running).

I know I'm preaching to the choir for most of you on Twitter who came to read this post, but there may be those in your schools or districts who could use a little help getting organized. I would also be interested in hearing what works for you.

Below are screenshots taken for each of the three tools I mentioned above as I was writing this Sunday morning post.