Teaching Students Digital Organization Skills
by Elizabeth Dobler
Technology provides us with vast ways to find, store, and use information, but students need instruction, modeling, and practice to develop the digital organization skills needed for success. Encourage students to try these tips to develop effective habits for digital organization.
Utilize an online tool for keeping track of web resources. Online tools for cultivating web resources enable the user to sort favorite websites into folders or collections that can be tagged for easy retrieval and shared with others. Zotero and Diigo, social bookmarking websites, give the option of adding an icon onto the browser toolbar so users can save websites. They also let users form groups for easy website sharing. Pinterest displays favorite websites by visual image and can be used to organize resources by topics.
Use project folders to organize resources. When beginning a project, my first step is to create a new folder on my desktop, and then I can add related resources as needed. On my iPad, I use the share symbol to put website icons onto my home screen. I can then join them to form a folder.
Learn to match information with its source. When I find useful information on a website, I copy it into a Word document and then use the comment feature to document the source URL and link it to the content. Google Docs has a research feature that lets a user search online for more information while still working within the document instead of toggling back and forth between webpages and the document.
Create a system for saving drafts and finished products. I label my documents and projects in a similar way each time, including the title, date, and draft version, then immediately save it to the project folder. I save a work-in-progress or finished product onto my cloud storage space (e.g. iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, Box) for safekeeping and convenience.
Share some of your digital organization disasters with students to emphasize the importance of practicing good habits (like the story of my colleague who spilled a cup of coffee on her laptop and lost everything). If students can instill these habits early they may avoid disasters and the kind of pain and anguish suffered by Mike’s student.