Top 4 Tools for Organizing Your Ideas Online

Monday, September 14, 2015 -- Scott Sterling

Perhaps no profession is better at “borrowing” things from the Internet than teaching. Even this blog post is designed around the fact that teachers will hopefully use our ideas in the classroom.

What’s really difficult about Web surfing is saving the things you find on your various devices so that you can refer to them later. As the saying used to go, “There’s an app for that.” There are often several, in fact, and today, I’m going to introduce you to a few of my favorites. All of these tools help you collect resources, and they have sharing features so that you can distribute your nuggets of educational gold to your professional learning community (PLC) or students with just a few taps/clicks.

This post will slant toward Apple devices. Although I have used the Android operating system at various times, I am not up to date with its current version; I’m more familiar with iOS applications. However, I do know that all of these tools are also available for Android devices. Speaking of iOS, its abilities to share from one app to another have vastly improved in the past few releases. Becoming familiar with the share sheet menu can make your online life much easier. Each of these tools has extensions that can be added to that menu.

Evernote  

I know of people who have built their lives, online and off, around Evernote. It’s an incredibly powerful tool that not only lets you take and organize notes but also organize links, photos, videos, and pretty much anything else that might live online or on your devices. It also has some productivity features, like reminders. There are apps for every device, as well as Web browser extensions that let you clip things from the Web without having to open the app.

I could go into all of the possibilities for teachers, but Evernote is simply too vast to summarize. Instead, check out this post on the Evernote blog from teacher Michael Cruz about the ways he uses the application. It’s quite impressive.

Trello 

Speaking of PLCs, getting everyone on the same page can be hard. Trello is a workflow tool that is widely used in the corporate world, but it can definitely be used in education. You can keep and share Web clippings like other tools, but you can also assign tasks to people and create checklists for projects. Many teachers also use it to keep their students organized while they are working on a group project.

Pocket  

For some people, Evernote is just too much. Pocket is a scaled-down tool that does many of the same things but in a much more manageable user interface (for some people).

Buffer 

One of the challenges of connected educators with an online personal learning network is finding time to share everything. Buffer is a tool that automatically schedules your tweets, shares, posts, pins, and whatever else you do online. You simply put your findings in a queue, and Buffer does the rest according to your schedule.

I’m a big advocate of these four tools, but this post only skims the surface of the apps that ae available to help organize your online life. Take the time to try out a few different options, and decide which works best for you. Already have a different tool that you love? We’d love to hear about how you use it in the comments section!

Finally, once you’ve mastered your online organization system, check out this blog post for 5 Lesson-Planning Tips, and put all of the great resources you’ve found to use in your curriculum!