Most of the time, I am trying to achieve something that may be impossible: creating a way to synchronize my digital life and my real life so that I can meaningfully accomplish things in both areas. I have been on a journey of sorts with social media…first seeing it as “evil”, then as a necessity, and finally now a tool. A tool is only as good as the person using it…so I hope that the suggestions that I will give in the following paragraphs will be useful.
Why should I have a digital life?
Hard as we try to hide from technology…it is there, staring us in the face. Especially social media, which has taken up quite a bit of the world’s zeitgeist in the last five years. It has helped people advance causes for social justice and become the downfall of others. Why would you want to mix yourself up in this?
Learning with others is better than learning by yourself. What I have learned is that with the power of social media, “sharing” takes on a whole new level of meaning. If you setup up your learning channels in a way that you are able to easily comb through and digest the essential pieces of information about your topic or interest level…you will be pleasantly surprised at how much you are able to learn in a relatively small amount of time.
Where do I start?
Here is where I started. I created a Facebook account. I know that does not sound like a revelation to you (especially if you already have one) but hear me out. Not only did I begin to connecting to my family and friends but I started to find pages that promoted the kinds of information that I wanted to know about. For me…that was special education and anything to do with inclusive education and inclusive communities. I also started a Twitter account. Here is where my world was really opened wide. Through the various hashtag chats (especially for education related topics) I was able to find people to follow that shared my interest. Then of course…I started talking to people. I started to ask questions about articles that people posted. I was able to become part of a community…and this is where the power of social media is so evident. If you realize that it is not really about promoting your ideas but engaging in a community of learners that will reinforce your learning…than you are on the right track.
Did I lose you?
Here (IMO) are the big three: Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ (sorry Pinterest). Get on these portals and start finding people that want to learn what you want to learn. Then after you are setup with these or a combination of them…you can begin to use some nifty tools to help curate your digital learning experience.
Information Overload. Once you start to follow all of these people and organizations…how do you manage all the information? Here is how I do it.
- Evernote: Think of a filing cabinet…only digital and infinite Yes…it is that good. There are many ways to integrate Evernote into your life but for the purposes of this post I would say…just sign up.
- Pocket: This is a newer tool for me…but it is really exactly what I have been looking for. I wanted a way to send things I wanted to read later on my various social media outlets and put them altogether until I knew what I wanted to do with them. Pocket can be integrated with almost anything and you can send articles/pictures/videos via link or email. The best thing about this powerful tool, is that you can share directly from the app to a host of other places.
- Dropbox: Another site that can be integrated into everything. I use this as a go between from my different machines. It is great for large files and can be shared and linked to publicly.
- Paper.li: This is an online newspaper that you can curate for your readers/followers and can be sent via Twitter. There are some filters that you can play with and create something that is really special. I often will open it up and be surprised at what is in there…it is like it reads my mind. Great tool!
- Asana: This is a task management tool (a la Getting Things Done) that has been a wonderful tool. My props go to Mickey Mellen (Green Mellen Media) for suggesting this to me. It has redefined how I handle my “to-do” lists. It can also be integrated with Google Calendar.
- Tweetdeck: This is a very nice tool that I use to manage my twitter accounts (I have my personal one and my professional one). The dashboard is user-friendly and I like to see the tweets as they come in when I have the time.
- Smartphone: I have an iPhone but any phone that has the capability of apps will get you far in managing your information. The link provided gives you some screenshots of the apps I use.
Below is a video that I made using Google+ Hangout (if you want a further explanation of the information that is in the post). Thanks for your time and attention and please connect with me…I would love to hear how you manage your digital life. (Photo Credit: espensorvik)