Trello and Evernote
Apart from case competitions, our Toastmasters Club is holding their contest for Area clubs in two weeks time, and having organized previous Club and Area Contests, I know one of the time consuming elements is organizing, documentation and planning the contest.
This year for the Table Topics and Humorous Speech Contests due to face off on 14th October, our executive agreed to host our third Area Contest in just over a year. I organized our colleges contest last year, did not get involved in the 2nd and now am supporting the latest one, but this time I am combining apps in the cloud. A year ago I experimented with Trello but this particular application was lacking certain aspects that I still had to use Microsoft Office programs for.
I found Trello intuitive enough to configure without having read a tutorial on how to use it. I find that once I start playing around with a particular application, I learn to use it by trial and error - far more than I would if someone tried to teach me these applications. If I need a user-guide to navigate a particular application, that tells that down the road I am less likely to keep using that application. The printscreen of the Area Contest page I created this morning is below
Whether it is a page link or an actual document, the attachment links are simple on Trello, and by the time I had finished I had built the complete overview I need to manage different elements of the contest and more importantly how I manage information flows with the various other people I am managing the event for. When I did this last year, I still had to create offline documents in order to maximize the use of the Trello.
This year however Flynn our Club President had tried out Evernote to see if she could use as an alternative for Slack (which I actually do love, but other members in my club really need to love it too), before she decided to use email as the shared platform. Yet the moment I was exposed to Evernote, I saw wider possibilities for it, and now this Area Contest has come around, it is the first time I have got to utilize it and integrate it as an attachment link in Trello.
So now from my Contest Planning Card in Trello I can link to the Evernote Page, as an example I have a simple page of links under Contest Planning called Contest Link Pages, in terms of digital efficiency this is the same as "one-stop-shopping". The best part of it, not a Word, PowerPoint or Excel Document anywhere in site. On Monday we have our exec meeting and my input will include the words "let us have a kick-arse contest", and I can say that with even greater confidence, because very basic digital tools are now at my disposal and the beauty of it is that I can access it anywhere or through anyone, so long as there is an online connection available.
The pages above did take a couple of hours to put together, but the time it will now save me and having to create various documents is incalculable. That is the very time I need to explore external campus competitions, which is the primary purpose of this buzz - so I can learn and then get to help student bodies who have been hired by their professors to manage competitions centrally.
While the Toastmaster Area contest is independent and involves only the clubs in our area, there is the possibility I will look to explore to see if the competition committee will oversee a campus to campus debate competition.
The greatest irony I find is that finding and using these apps means I can explore new digital interfaces and thus enhance and advance my digital practice, but the average student in a student club are only using the standard social media contraptions i.e. facebook, snapchat and instagram. I am also learning that by utilizing these tools in what essentially is to manage a competitive framework, it is the collaborative nature of these technologies which are the major shift in learning. If only I was 25 I could be a peer mentor but at 55 it is kind of awkward trying to encourage young students to explore these practical work centered applications.
If I could have achieved this before, then Slack would be way more than what it is now, and really not meant to be - individually for me a stand-alone application. What I need to improve really here is my powers of digital persuasion and get others excited about these apps, rather than expect students to explore these apps on their own volition. What is really key for me personally is that these are 21st Century applications and I look forward to exploring them more and ultimately use them greater productive and make-life-easier purposes.