For the longest time, I didn’t see the need to own an iPad. After all, I had an iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy S3, an iPod, a Nook Color, so why would I need yet another gadget? Yes, that’s the old Raye… The Raye who allowed financial frugality to trump geeky gadgetry. And while that Raye still exists (mostly when app shopping), the PreventionGeek side of me finally bit the bullet and purchased the new iPad with Retina Display. My life will never be the same…
Back in January, I committed to Taking the 10 Tool Challenge, which was an idea put forth by Jane Hart. I dedicated the end of January and all of February to the iPad so I could have a reason to play with my new toy. Besides, it genuinely was the most relevant tool at the time.
My month-long exploration into the device can easily be summed up in three categories: Apps, Training, and Learning. I’ll cover Part I today and Parts II and III later on in the week.
By far, shopping for apps has been the most fun part of owning an iPad. Like I said, I am a pretty frugal person, so I’m always hunting for the most economical yet useful version of an app. It’s like a digital treasure hunt for me. I think this frugality has a lot to do with the fact that I have always worked in the fields of education or prevention. There is never enough in the budget, yet we always find a way to make-do with what we have. That’s why most of the apps you’ll see on this list are either free or very low cost (all of the following apps are FREE unless otherwise noted).
Google Drive /Dropbox: Gone are the days when people emails files back and forth. It’s too easy to lose track of the most recent file and it’s too easy to lose people in the process. With both of these free apps, your coalition can share documents in one simple location without those worries. I’m a Google gal myself, mostly because of its desktop live editing capabilities, but I use Dropbox more for photo, video, and audio files.
Evernote /Penultimate: I have not used Evernote as much as I would like, but I do love the simplicity and the organization capabilities within this app. Admittedly, I mostly use it for “to do” lists, but I hope to take it farther in the future. Also, for those of you who like to write/draw notes, Penultimate is for you. It syncs with Evernote, so you can pull up your hand-written notes on any device that you wish. I hope to work with Penultimate and visual notes more in the future now that I’ve acquired a stylus, which allows me to feel more like I’m writing and less like I’m finger painting.
30/30 : Time and organize tasks (and breaks!) to increase productivity.
Trello: This app is what would happen if a flip chart and the Internet had a baby. You know how prevention people LOVE their flip charts. We’ve all been part of an brainstorm session when we write notes/suggestions on Post-Its, arrange the Post-Its on a piece of flip chart paper, and then we start the planning. This is the electronic version of that. Oh, and everyone has access to the flip chart, even after the meeting. Think of the possibilities!
Haiku Deck: This video from The Wall Street Journal explains what Haiku Deck can do far better than I can. While it doesn’t have the customization that Keynote ($9.99) and PowerPoint (desktop) have, it does allow the user to make quick, visually interesting presentations using Creative Commons images.
Calendar Tracker Lite: Tracker allows you to track progress on a goal, providing both motivation and incentive to keep going. Just like a gold star in elementary school, the red checkmarks allow the user to feel a sense of accomplishment for a job consistently well done. This is one free version of the Streaks ($1.99) iPhone app recommended by Chris Brogan (more on him in Part III).
I won’t go into social media much because I think most people are familiar with these apps. After all, Facebook is the most downloaded app, both on Apple and Android devices. The ones I found myself using most frequently were: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, WordPress, LinkedIn, and Storify.
In a fantastic moment of crowd sourcing, the audience at our CADCA training “Social Media and Free Range Learning” workshop provided a huge number of learning and social media apps, resources, and tools that they use in their everyday work. I would like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who contributed to this list!
In Part II of this blog series, I will talk more about the video and photography apps we used in a “Using Social Media For Good” training, including: Photoshop Express, Color Effects, Snapseed, Instagram, Flickr, Animoto, YouTube, and iMovie ($4.99).
Finally, lest you think I am a boring nerd who spends ALL her time focused on work-related tasks, I’ll have you know that I used my iPad for serious slacking off time… I mean, recharging. The iPad allowed me to raise a community of endangered animals with Ice Age Village. I tracked fitness/diet goals with MyFitnessPal. I shopped for an imaginary dream home on Trulia and Realtor.com. I keep up-to-date on the latest alien and conspiracy theories via Coast to Coast AM. And most importantly, I fell in love with a doctor online… Yes, I watched the entire Doctor Who series on Amazon Instant Video.
However, don’t let the recharge activities lessen the value of this tool when it comes to community work. If you see someone pecking away at their iPad in a meeting, yes, they could be using it to play Candy Crush. But why not let your employees and your coalition members know that you trust them to NOT do that. Instead, let’s change the perception and let it be known that we use them to take notes, tweet important parts of the meeting, brainstorm ideas, and connect with people in the community. THEN after all that is done, we watch Doctor Who…
“Have you ever used video editing software?” he asked.
“Have you ever been involved in designing trainings or curriculum?”
“Have you ever assisted with the coordination of online trainings such as webinars or online courses?”
Seriously, I don’t know why they hired me at my last job. I had exactly zero experience in everything that the job required, yet they hired me anyway. My only guess as to why is because after the list of no‘s, I told them, “I may not know how to do these exact tasks, but I’ve done things related to them. If you’ll give me the time and the tools, I know I’ll figure them out.” It was a bold statement, but I said it because I knew it was true. I love the challenge of new tasks, especially if it’s something in which I’m interested. Had this job been related to analyzing the stock market, I wouldn’t have made that statement (says the girl who barely eked out an A in Econ 101, and only because the final was open-book). However, I had been a teacher and a prevention specialist, so I knew I had the background for the concepts. I was also a closet computer nerd, so the idea of getting to play with software all day sounded like a great idea!
My job at DBHR morphed from one description to another throughout the course of my time there, but the one constant was that I was always given the opportunity to “figure things out.” Even better, my colleagues trusted me and appreciated those things after I figured them out. I went from going in my first day barely understanding Outlook to leaving after posting 10 online trainings, all created from scratch, all using software I’d never even heard of just 9 months before.
With that spirit and excitement, I’ve decided to take on Jane Hart’s 10 Tools Challenge, which I discovered through LaDonna’s blog post about it. (See how that Free-Range Learning ™ works in real life?!) The following 10 tools are in no particular order of importance:
- Tweetdeck/Hootsuite–These two are combined because I have toyed with both sites and apps, and each has its own unique perks. Unfortunately, both lack app/desktop syncing capabilities (as far as I can tell), which I’m not a fan of.
- Articulate Storyline–I used this e-learning software to create online courses for The Athena Forum, but there is still so much to discover!
- Pinterest–For over a year, I’ve been pinning recipes/funnies/design ideas, but only recently have I discovered the possibilities it holds for nonprofits and coalitions. Please feel free to follow me on Pinterest, and let’s learn together!
- iPad–My iPad is about 2 weeks old, and primarily all I’ve done is watch Doctor Who on Amazon Instant Video. I hope to change that, though, by mastering its functionality as well as apps such as Evernote, Pocket, Flipboard, Keynote, and many more.
- Final Cut Pro–This one is a *wish* challenge because in order to learn this program, I must first have a Mac. Hopefully some paying gigs will come my way and my wish will come true!
- Infographics—Noland Hoshino (one of my new geek crushes) has some amazing Pinterest boards full of ideas and tools for creating what he calls “infosnaps.” These small infographics are perfect for attracting attention while educating the viewer. It’s my goal to learn more about infographics and these newly coined infosnaps to see how prevention providers can do something creative with all that data we’re buried under!
- WordPress–I’ve been blogging on WordPress.com for a while, but I also want to learn more about WordPress.org. I know nothing about building websites, but now seems as good a time as any to figure it out!
- Linkedin–The only thing I know about Linkedin is that I seem to get a ton of spammy-looking emails from people who supposedly want me to connect to them. I know there are networking opportunities in this site, and I plan on testing the waters once I receive my copy of Linkedin Log in the mail from SMO Books.
- Wikispaces–LaDonna uses this all the time for training, learning, and networking. It’s a fantastic resource that I think is under-utilized in our field (myself included).
- Audacity–My greatest challenge when producing online courses from videos and webinars was the audio editing. This is one piece of software that doesn’t seem to come easy to me, so I’ll probably end up going to Lynda.com and YouTube for tutorials.
There you have it! I plan on printing out the infographic above and tacking it to the ol’ vision board. Please join us in the 10 Tool Challenge, or the 2 Tool Challenge, or the 7 Tool Challenge–however many you feel comfortable taking on. After all, Abraham Lincoln** said, “He who does not open himself to Free-Range Learning ™ should not be surprised when he finds himself chasing his tail in a cage.”
**Abraham Lincoln did not say this.
2013 schedule so far:
- At-home second grader who wishes to share all the adventures that Christmas break holds.
- Setting up all the logistics for PreventionGeek Consulting (which is a real thing now) including equipment, travel arrangements, supplies, etc.
- Continue work on my and LaDonna‘s CADCA National Leadership Forum workshops, pushing myself to abandon old habits when it comes to PowerPoint and trainings.
- Assist husband during a week of convalescent leave due to having PRK (laser eye) surgery.
- File every paper, electronic file, and scrap Post-it note to try to create order in the home office.
- Continue work on CADCA workshop, still attempting to abandon old habits.
One of the challenges I have faced is maintaining that work/home balance, both timing and tasks. In the first two weeks, I found myself doing housework during the day and work-work in the evenings and on into the night. By nature, I feel more creative and productive after the sun goes down.
However, as much as I like working in the evenings, the fact is I have a family that happens to be off-the-clock during those hours, so I need to adjust to their schedules.
Because I felt like I needed a little help organizing my day, I set out to look for tools that would make me more productive in the 8-5 hours. Some of my favorites so far are:
Tom’s Planner–This handy website allows one to map out long-term projects. So say you’re a coalition working on writing a new strategic plan, this tool could help you organize the timing of each step in the process and ultimately meet deadlines, which have a tendency to sneak up on a person. While the free version allows a single user a wide range of features, for only $9 a month (quarterly subscription), a coalition could collaborate on, personalize, print, and export these schedules. Right now, the free membership is enough for me and my smaller projects, though.
Evernote–I’m a list person, so this app makes me a very happy girl. You can use it to make notes to yourself that can include check-able To-Do lists (my favorite!), pictures, audio messages, and other attachments that you may need. Then you can organize everything into notebooks for easier access and record-keeping. I think back to when I was working with 4 different coalitions and how this would have been helpful in keeping track of all the details for each group. I also think about how easy it is for me to get “squirrelled,” and this app definitely helps keep me on track.
Google Calendar–If it were up to me, I would stick with the pencil-and-paper calendar because I’m a visual/kinesthetic learner. Unfortunately, a paper calendar on my desktop doesn’t allow for much interaction and collaboration. Google Calendar allows me to create events and invite others, much like any standard calendar (like Outlook). You can also create and share entire calendars with others, which could come in handy to any group working collectively on a project. Most importantly, it allows me to integrate my home and work schedules. For example, because my husband makes quarterly trips to Alaska, I have to consider his schedule, making sure I don’t plan any travel for myself during those dates. When I worked in an office that used a networked Outlook system, I had a tendency to neglect adding personal events to my calendars since I viewed it as a “work,” tool. This led to a few scheduling mishaps, which hopefully will now be avoided.
A Post-It Flip Chart and Markers–Like I said, I’m a visual learner, so it helps me to have goals, deadlines, wish lists, etc. within eyesight. The good, old-fashioned flip-chart-sized Post-It allows me to do this. It also provides me with the satisfaction of posting a big red check mark when a task is completed. Everyone knows there’s nothing better than making a big red check mark!
Granted, most of these tools are pretty basic, and anyone who owns a smartphone has probably used them. However, my purpose in writing this blog (for now) is to chronicle the beginnings of learning to integrate technology into prevention. I’m sure as I get further along down the road, I’ll find more advanced tools to streamline life. But for now, as long as I can get a little help when it comes to balancing work/family time when I’m not punching a clock, then I’m one happy geek.
What’s a Prevention Geek, you ask?
Well, it’s not me. Not yet anyway…
Currently, I work for the Washington Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery as a member of the prevention training team. The goal of our project is to record a series of trainings (both in-person and webinar-based) for prevention professionals so that they can be added to the state’s professional development website, The Athena Forum. Though I love my work and give it my all, many days I feel greatly under-qualified for my job. I have approximately three years in the field as a prevention specialist, but the training and technology side of things is entirely new to me. The Oklahoma girl in me would compare the experience to being a barrel racer who suddenly finds herself on the back of a bull trying to hold on for 8 seconds.
Last week, I was fortunate enough to participate in four full-day trainings with CADCA trainer (and self-proclaimed Coalition Dork), Rhonda Ramsey Molina. Our technology consultant, LaDonna Coy, traveled to Washington to assist with the recording, uploading, editing, and ultimately the publishing of these trainings. LaDonna is the latest in my series of professional mentors (though said mentors may not realize their role in my mind!), and an all-around shining star in the field of prevention. She’s the kind of person I could sit and talk to for hours if we ever had the time and the means. Some of it is probably due to our shared sooner state roots, but so much of it is about my fascination with her view on not just the history, but the FUTURE of prevention.
At the end of our final day of training while discussing the various means of technology that we had used over the course of the week, Rhonda casually said to LaDonna, “You’ve been a prevention geek as long as I’ve known you–even before anyone else used computers.” Prevention Geek. I liked that. Later on, I tweeted to LaDonna: “This week I learned the difference between coalition dork & prevention geek. I’m aiming 4geek because they have cooler gadgets.” And there, the seed for this blog was planted.
I once heard Dr. Paul Evensen say that coalitions need to be able to tell their stories to secure funding. In turn, I think that preventionists need to be able to tell their stories not only so we can see the evolution of our profession, but also so we can mindfully plan its future. This is the prologue to my story–a wannabe prevention geek who has no idea where I’m headed or how I’ll get there. Let’s see where this story goes!
Opinions expressed on this blog are not a reflection of my employer. These are my own ramblings from my own brain on my own time. 🙂