Starting fresh in a new digital landscape…

So as I promised I’m going to go into a bit more detail about the experience of making a fresh start in a new online realm.

At UAL I had my shit pretty neatly sorted. If you know me you’ll know I’m kind of borderline OCD about this sort of thing. I like my bookmarks filed alphabetically. I like my most used pages to be speed dialed and my inbox to be ordered and pretty much empty.

Starting in a new workplace comes with opportunities to keep all this stuff in line from day one but also new challenges like working out what the key sites and systems are, getting access to the right admin areas and most of all managing the inevitable avalanche of new passwords.

There is also the added complexity of working for Falmouth and Exeter and so all the stuff I’d normally need to assimilate needs to be done twice.

Thankfully working in educational technology the people inducting me into college life have a lot of those answers which makes it easier to identify mail servers and where Moodle admin access is located and so on.

At UAL I had been working off my personal GMail account. This was sort of fine. Like I say, ordered bookmarking and my own overlapping interest in technologies meant the two things could co-exsist happily enough, but I did have a sense of foreboding as I was preping handover documentation and cleaning up the different drives I used at UAL that some stuff I used there was linked to university accounts and some things like say my old blog address might become hard to access.

With that in mind I decided on a different approach for the South West. I’ll try and list some of the differences in my strategy starting with my browser set up :

  1. An new ‘Falmouth / Exeter’ GMail account linked to my Falmouth email (but with a separate password) even if my tenure here ends I’ll still have access to the bookmarks and I can rest easier. Also this means that although I can access my work from home I am not reminded of working out of hours if I don’t want to be as my main ‘home’ account is just that, home. I also tidied up that  account to by moving all my UAL related bookmarks to One ‘UAL’ folder an stuck it on the end of my bookmarks bar…. out of si(gh)te out of mind!
  2. Ad Block Plus!
  3. I’ve created a hopefully more future proof folder structure for my F/E bookmarks.
    1. An ‘ET | Falmouth’ folder for Falmouth portals, webmails, tools, team documents and blogs.
    2. An ‘ET | Exeter’ folder for the same resources but Exeter facing
    3. A LTHE (Learning & Teaching in Higher Education) folder with a sub folder structure to add L&T HE online reference materials and resources which will hopefully keep them in order from the get go.
    4. A tech news folder with the Learning tech and Tech news feeds and blogs I use.
    5. A folder for online training sites.
    6. A conferences folder. (gotta keep track of those conference opportunities!)
    7. An Articles folder for general non L&T articles – this will probably get a sub structure too soon enough).
    8. A Brik-4-Brak folder for the rest
    9. Having written all that I’ve now put the E & F into the LTHE folder and the Articles folder into Brik-4-Brak folder.
    10. I’ve also added button links for printing, my blog and my twitter account (also linked to the Falmouth address).
  4. Next up I’ve Speed dialed my homepage. This may change in content as I get more familiar with what I use day to day but at the moment I’ve kept it super minimal – 3 links for the core Moodle site, the admin portal and the Exeter Uni web portal. I love speed dial for this. It really focuses me on what I need to remember to keep on coming back to.
  5. Finally I exported my blog from the UAL myblog..arts platform and have started a new WordPress blog. I’m currently importing my older posts so hopefully they’ll all show up under these posts.

Thats the web side covered – I feel like it’s hopefully going to preempt later messyness and make things easy to keep track of.

On the desktop / software side I’ve also tried to link things up, anticipating what I am likely to use and keep my tool set minimal while aiming to meet my anticipated needs. Nice in this respect that I’ve been assigned a macbook (with Admin rights!!!!) and an iPad plus the requisite peripherals so setting up a sensible tool kit has been a lot easier than if I couldn’t put softwares and apps that I really want to use without always having to go through centraized red tape.

So here’s my desktop list :

  1. Chrome! – Well duh? (I’ve got safari and firefox installed in case of browser checking tasks too).
  2. Apple Mail. Falmouth and Exeter emails and my iCloud mailbox. I setup the macbook and ipad on a my iCloud account to link them. I’ve set up my signatures for each mail account + I’ve set incoming rules to colour code the messages so I can just sit in shared inbox view and still know which college the mails are coming from.
  3. The ipad is also on my old apple ID – not paying for a bunch of apps twice! but the macbook is on the Uni account.
  4. As I’m using Mail I’m also using Calendar on Mac.
  5. And I’m using notes. I’m going to try and be semi paperless so I’m jotting odds and ends, notes from meetings etc in there but I’m going to try and keep the labelling sensible – names of people I’ve been talking to with the date. Simples.
  6. The team at Falmouth are using Slack which I’m obviously happy about.
  7. The last part of my initial desktop setup is a to-do list. I don’t really like Apple to-do so I’ve opted for Wunderlist which I likes a lot. Not least because it is cross device and cross platform and syncs itself very nicely. It offers desktop apps for Windows 7 and up, Mac and Android so I’m not worried about accessing my to-do’s on other devices and its got a nice chunk / minimal interface with good folders and some priority and sub list options I like. There is also sharing but I haven’t had cause to use it yet.
  8. The lappy is also loaded with MS Office 2011 and Adobe CC 2015 so I can work happily in the office or on the move 🙂
  9. I’ve tidied up my Google drive, Google docs and drop box and added them to the finder list so I’m connected nicely to continue things in and out of the office. I’ve also tried to create a sensibly labelled folder structure in finder itself – I’m going to go for more folders than I have in the past… its not like they take up any space, and then I’m not looking through generic ‘images’ or ‘documents’ folders…. if I download 4 Neurodiversity venn diagrams them Neurodiversity gets it own folder… I’ll assess this system when I’ve gathered some more actual files and maybe sub structure or delete and reorganise as seems best at that time.
  10. Finally as you can see from the feature image, when I am in the office I have a nice 3 monitor set up a go on (I can have calendar, email, slack, to-do’s and notes all on the sides open while I’m working in the middle), neatly run cables and headphones so nothing gets in the way or looks untidy (OCD). Plenty of room for my forearms (so hopefully my RSI will improve with time), space for the phone (linked to my account on IP), and the pad and my note book if there’s stuff I need to scribble. And its all easy to unplug and plug in as and when I need to come and go.

So we’ll see how I get  on… I’ll prolly be blogging next week from the middle of a heap of rubbish with my desktop covered in files and 3 or 4 duplicate apps running for all my tasks… but you can only hope.

I’ll definitely reblog regarding how the folder structuring and sub-structuring is working out for me as time goes on.

Keep it Ed Tech 🙂


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