TransDevice Admin: 9 Tips to Streamline Tasks with @Centrallo @Readdle @Voxer @Microsoft @Adobe

Are you a trans-device educator? That is, have you managed to transcend your device's limits to work anytime, anywhere? If yes, then this blog entry is for you.And, note that you probably need to have an iPhone or iPad handy for some of the apps mentioned but you can certainly get it done with an Android device.
Copyright Notice [fake]: As far as I know, I made up "trans-device educator" phrase. As such, it is copyrighted and you can pay me royalties. If I'm not the original author, please leave comment with source. ;-)


Tip #1 - Organize Your Email
"Hundreds of emails flow into my inbox," shared one principal. "I'm always on the go. How am I supposed to figure out what to do with each one?" Whether you use MS Exchange, Hotmail, Gmail, you now have access to some easy to use email clients that work quite well.

CloudMagic--which works on Android, iPhone and iPad--or Readdle's Spark (iOS only) are two great mobile email clients. Both it make it easy to sort your messages into folders and/or forward to somewhere else, like Centrallo to house your email content. In fact, CloudMagic Cards offers some even more exciting features, like saving content to favorite locations. 

Centrallo uses--here's a video overview--two organizational principles, including List and Note. You can create a list that contains various notes, group notes according to lists. The interface is quite simple and easy to work with and fast on mobile devices!




Tip #2 - Collect and Organize Critical Documents
"Every day," shares one administrator, "I have to manage a ton of documents, some of which are digital, others that are mostly paper. What tips do you have for me?" Whether it's business cards, invoices, permission slips, you can easily capture these documents with an app like Readdle's Scanner Pro and save them to the cloud (e.g. Dropbox, GoogleDrive, Centrallo). Another great app--which also happens to be cross-platform--is Microsoft's OfficeLens, which works on Android and iOS devices. Going on a field trip? Scan all the student permission slips with parent/guardian contact information in! Need to share a notebook or a single note with others? It's easy to share the link, all from your mobile device or desktop computer.
But what to do with all these scans/pictures? I like to place documents in Centrallo because it's easier to search for them, but you aren't limited to that. For secure documents, I encrypt them first. Then, I put those documents online and add a short description to make them searchable.

To scan a lot of content, it's as easy as running the stack of papers through a copier-scanner then emailing that document to yourself with your mobile device (Centrallo accepts emailed content) or saving it straight to your cloud storage. I no longer recommend buying a separate device when using an app like the free OfficeLens is available on Android and iOS! And, saving to the cloud is so easy with a more dedicated app like Scanner Pro.


Tip #3 - Manage Parent Contacts and Questions.
"Parents will email me, or catch me in the hall and ask me questions," said one assistant principal. "The thing is, many of them are asking the same question and I'm giving the same answer." Instead of answering the same question a thousand times, why not conduct a short interview or record an infocast that you can share via a Tweet, SMS or blog entry later? 
 
Voxer Pro on the Web
Or, better yet, invite parents to get the free Voxer app, then add them to your school's Voxer broadcast chat (Voxer Pro required for you)! Then, you can share periodic updates. I like to record into Voxer's MyNotes (a.k.a. Notes to Self) then forward that to the right Voxer broadcast chat (they receive it but have to respond to you) or chat (interactive with parents). 
Another approach is to quickly record the audio directly into Centrallo (it is saved in m4a format on an iPhone, but you can convert that to the popular MP3 format easily), then share the link to your audio note. This will enable them to listen to you. Take these and make them into a series of blog entries--that can be shared online. I have asked Centrallo if they would consider making an RSS feed of shared notes, and they are considering it!
Tip #4 - Check That Off Your List!
"What I like to do every morning is make a checklist of what I need to do each day." She held up her phone and waved it in front of me with a smile. "If I run into new items, I just add them to my digital checklist and keep going!" A lot of us have "To-Do" lists but it's so easy to see them as a list of items that never gets worked through. 


With 
Centrallo, you can put all your To-Do items in a list, inserting checkboxes in front of each. Funny thing, though, it puts the checkboxes at the top of the document, above the title (e.g. "Critical Checklist"). As you finish them throughout the day, simply tap on the checkbox to place a checkmark. What a great visual way of working through your To-Do list or a long checklist. I have to admit that I also like Google Keep for short-term to-do lists and checkboxes.
Tip #5 - You are the Storyteller-in-Charge!
Image Source: Social Branding via A Principal's Reflections
Want to better engage parents, community, students and teachers? Assign yourself the job of "Storyteller-in-Chief" at your campus. This is your job, after all, and you can take advantage of various apps on your smartphone or tablet to capture pictures of great things teachers are doing, whether it's a lesson or coaching a child. You can also capture student work, ask them to share what they were thinking and record that reflection as an audio note. 
One approach is to use one of these iOS apps to create a "digital story" of what is going on at your school just using your phone (this is drop-dead easy, so don't put this off because you're worried you aren't "techy" enough!):
  • Adobe Voice - This is an easy to use, wonderful tool that allows you to blend music (they provide it in the app), pictures, and your audio narration into an easy to share narrated slideshow.
  • Shadow Puppet - Another easy to use, perhaps even more wonderful sans music in Adobe Voice, tool that lets you take pictures, add audio. 
Take pictures, drop them into Centrallo, and add some short text and audio recording to make it accessible online to others! In minutes, you've added another multimedia element to your school's digital wall.

Tip #6 - Problems, Problems-Document!
Above: Picture in Centrallo

Above: Shared via Centrallo to the Web for Others to look at!
"The wiring in this cabinet," pointed out a colleague, "is a mess. And, look at those cardboard boxes!" I picked up my iPhone, snapped a picture into Centrallo, shared the Room # and campus, then passed the link on. 

This was fun because it enabled me to quickly document issues that we needed to address as a department with the right people. And, I could always come back to it later.

As a school administrator, I run into problems daily. In the old days, I'd write a long email. Now, I snap a picture of the problem then quickly "Share Link" from Centrallo to the person who can get the job done. If necessary, I add some audio to the note so that way, the other person knows what I think needs to be done.

Tip #7 - Track Your Meetings
As an administrator, if you're like me, you have to attend an endless parade of meetings. As much as I love meetings, there's no way to keep track of them all. Many of the meetings, you're going to type notes--or write them out longhand--that won't make sense to others. I like to start up Centrallo and tap on the microphone. This enables me to record the entire meeting, even as I take notes with a keyboard or pad-n-pen.

In addition to saving my notes, audio recording of meetings, I also quickly snap pictures of meeting paper materials, including business cards, meeting agendas, and handouts. You can then share the meeting notes and materials with others.

Are you a fan of pad-n-pen? Think better with a dry erase marker in your hand and a wall-size canvas in front of you? Me, too! I like to snap pictures of my notes so I always have them with me and even if I lose the notepad, fresh ideas are still stored in the cloud!
You can also track vendor interactions. Any campus or district administrator knows that vendors are going to come calling. One of the challenges I face is limiting those vendor contacts, while keeping track of whom I've spoken to on the phone, received emails from, etc. Before, I would sort them into company folders in my email. Problem with that approach is that I'd have to remember who I was talking to, their company, etc. 

Now, I can organize by project and match vendors to the job. All of this information--including business cards--allows me to dig up the names of people matched up to projects.

Tip #8 - Track Travel Receipts
It's amazing how little I travel now as an administrator. That said, even though I spend a lot of time at work, there are times when I do travel. Managing receipts has always been a chore. These days, I don't bother with trying to keep all the paper copies. After checking with the Finance folks, I snap pictures of my receipts for food, pictures of my odometer, to help me keep track of everything that has to do with travel. What a relief to not have to manage little pieces of paper!

Tip #9 - Protect Confidential Notes
With Centrallo, you are able to "protect" sensitive notes that may contain confidential information. I always recommend encrypting sensitive data before putting it in the cloud but you can also add another layer of protection by choosing "Protect" on a Centrallo note. This allows you to add a password and that note can't be opened without it. 
Here's what "Protect Item" looks like in Centrallo.

Conclusion
What other tasks that you are involved in that can be made easier with digital tools? With only a few apps, you can streamline your work! A quick review of the apps:
  • MultiPurpose Apps
    • Centrallo - Great, easy to use, cross-platform note-taking, document archiving app that allows you to add audio, images, and files to notes, as well as organize them into nested lists of notes.
  • Capture Apps
    • OfficeLens - Capture pictures, whiteboards, documents and save them to your iOS Camera roll then use them in one of the narrated slideshow tools below.
    • Readdle Scanner Pro - Easily scan documents (or anything) to the cloud storage of your choice. 
  • Narrated Slideshow Apps
    • Adobe Voice - This is an easy to use, wonderful tool that allows you to blend music (they provide it in the app), pictures, and your audio narration into an easy to share narrated slideshow.
    • Shadow Puppet - Another easy to use, perhaps even more wonderful sans music in Adobe Voice, tool that lets you take pictures, add audio.
There are many other choices, but these are a few that impact my work flow daily.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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