Exploring OneNote for Extraordinary Productivity

I’m happy to be back to office from my Chinese New Year break. I have to admit that I had been living a ‘pig’ life during this break where I only ate, slept, and watched TV every day. Anyway, I’m happy to have time to sit here and update a post. Today I wish to share about Microsoft OneNote and how I use it as part of keeping up with the Extraordinary Productivity.

When I first tried out OneNote, I was quite impressed with all the options available to customise my Notebook. I can create multiple notebooks which I can switch one to another easily. Each notebook can contain multiple sections (just like divider/folder for physical file) and each section can contain multiple pages. Let’s take a look the options to make my page:

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There are simply so many tags to choose from and a search/filter can be done through these tags. I’m a big fan of To Do list, of course. They are very easy to create with keyboard shortcut Ctrl+1. Putting a tick to each task simply makes me happy.

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Here is how they are look like on a page.

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If you prefer to have real notebook feel with rule lines or grid lines, fear not! You have various options to choose from.

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Finally, here is how I use OneNote. I created JennNotebook where I keep sections of Writing Ideas (where I keep ideas in various pages for writing blog post like this), Academia (where I keep track of things to do during the semester), Cool Tools (links to online tools I want to try out more), and Meeting (where I keep notes of meeting). I literally transfer my extraordinary productivity method from physical page to online OneNote. The best thing is this OneNote sync to my phone or any device with OneNote on mobile. I do not carry any physical notebook with me now, though occasionally I still like to scribble on the paper for some impromptu notes.

I have seen OneNote being used on Surface with the Surface pen and the usage of OneNote is so much and the only limit is our imagination. I’m so tempted to buy one just for that! Maybe I should just get one in the hope to increase my productivity. Haha!

 

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Google Keep

I didn’t realise how much I have missed writing and sharing about new useful apps until I’m writing this post. Today I want to introduce to you Google Keep, if you haven’t already use or heard of it yet.

This is my screen capture from my Android phone. Unfortunately, Google Keep is only available for Android, Chrome and web version. It’s very much like a combination of Remember My Milk and Evernote, making Google Keep an interesting app to use for save keeping just basically anything you want. Here in the screen capture, I have bullet point to do list where Remember My Milk or similar apps are great for that. Then I also have notes just like I can keep them in Evernote. I can also take photo or record voice to keep. You can set reminder on all kind of notes and you can also colour coded each note. This make your Google Keep so colourful and interesting.

If you are chrome user, you can add Google Keep from Chrome Web Store.

I have been using Google Keep to create to-do list and I really love that. I use Google Keep to write down a few hundreds words one night when I suddenly had some idea about a topic. It really came in handy.

So give it a try and let me know what you think.

Web 2.0: Innovating Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

Due to my keen interest in Web 2.0 technology, I have actually made a name for myself in my university in implementing Web 2.0 in my teaching and learning process. With my initial thought to personally exploring further my interest but now I have become a role model to many academics in my faculty and other faculties to look up to for trying to incorporating technology in our lesson plans. Although my experience is still new, many (especially the bosses) are seeing opportunities that I can bring to others. I have actually made a few presentations and sharing sessions with my colleagues from all the faculties about my method in incorporating Web 2.0 tools in my teaching and learning process.

Recently, the faculty had been invited to participate in the National University Carnival on e-Learning and the boss thought of me and were wondering if I was interested to participate in the competition to showcase my innovation or idea. I was delighted at first but at the same time I was very afraid. My innovation is not something very impressive or so great to shout out about and I’m still experimenting on it gradually semester by semester. However, I thought the call for competition was a great opportunity and one I would regret if I missed it, so I agreed to take part.

In a short one week time (before I left for Switzerland), I completed the entry requirement of the competition with an A1 poster and abstract about my idea. Here’s my A1 poster for the competition. I featured three important tools that I have been using for my teaching and learning process: WordPress, Google Drive, and Facebook Page.

Once I touched down on Thursday, I went straight to collect my poster from the printing shop and went to campus for class. On the next day, I went to the competition with my poster and presentation slides. The requirement was to present the idea to three judges at different times. Here’s my simple presentation slides that I made my presentation to all three judges.

Nothing to shout about as most of these were done in short notice but I’m glad I could make it to the competition even though I had super tight schedule with my sudden travelling. Anyway, my purpose for joining this competition was not to win anything but to meet so many other academics and to see so many others innovation. The experience was an enlightened one.

At the end of the competition, when my entry was awarded a Silver Medal, I count my blessings. Luckily for my category of competition, most of the entries got either Gold, Silver or Bronze. So other than my experience gain, I have also gained a medal and hopefully an achievement for the faculty and university.

Thank you for my lucky star but I do believe hard work pays off. Hehe!

Open for communication

One of my personal goals as an academic is to maintain open communication with my students, both during and after classes. In our Asian learning style, our students don’t usually like to openly ask questions or even communicate with the lecturers. They simply like to sit in the classroom, listen (or half listening) to the lecture, and just enjoy the air-conditioning class (because Malaysia has really hot weather most of the time). After many classes, a few students would probably contact me with some questions through emails. Emails are good communication method but I don’t think it’s very effective in communicating with students. I sometimes find emails rather messy with too many emails from so many people (seriously, being an academic, emails will be the death of me if compared to my life in industry. Now I have realized the importance of inbox zero and how difficult to get it!). Sometimes I might just overlook some email enquiries from students because I was too busy attending to other emails. So, I decided to create another platform just for my students to keep in touch with me, a Facebook Page.

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Okay, most Facebook Pages are created for fans and I don’t want to think myself a celebrity to have fans like my page. I simply want an effective platform that students are already familiar with and some are simply constantly on that platform most of the times. Facebook is that kind of platform that many students are already the expert users. So I created my page and introduced it to my students at the beginning of the semester. Many have clicked ‘like’ on my page and that’s how we keep up communication most of the times. I got personal messages from students all the times, no matter day or night (mostly night because that’s when the students claim to be studying). Good thing is I have iPad and mobile apps that allow me to constantly reply messages with ease. I mostly got questions about the course I was teaching, especially near tests period. Other than questions, some students just want to chat and get some personal motivation, which I’m more than happy to provide. I could say that through this platform I’m not only make myself available to questions about the course, I’m actually presenting myself to be approachable/available as a mentor or advisor to my students. I believe students appreciate lecturers who are always available to give them support in the learning process.

I guess for some academics, they would think it’s too personal to add students as friends in their personal Facebook account to utilize the platform for communication. I would think it’s rather awkward to let your students know where you have vacation during the semester break while they are working their asses off with final year projects. Of course, there are always privacy settings in Facebook to filter what you want to share. However, I don’t really want to trouble myself with all the settings. That’s why I would recommend the use of FB page to maintain your privacy and at the same time still open for communication in a very professional way. Just like any organization or brand that wants to maintain relationships with their customers, we (academics) should utilize this platform to maintain a good relationships with our students. I believe if students find a lecturer approachable and caring enough, they would eventually like learning from the lecturer. Hence, this helps increasing the learning experience for the students. However, all these are just my yet to be proven hypotheses, which I’m looking forward to find out more soon.

More about my other uses of Web 2.0 applications in my teaching and learning process soon.

Saving tweets to Evernote

I always discover new cool stuff from my Twitter followings (other than my RSS feeds) and sometimes I wish I can save awesome tweets for keepsake so I can get back to those awesome links later. Unfortunately, Twitter is a good place for conversation but not so cool for saving them permanently.  If you are a frequent user of Evernote and basically love to save ‘everything’ to your Evernote account, here’s a good news.

I have recently discovered an easy way to save tweets to Evernote by following simple instruction:

1. Follow @myen Twitter account.

2. Wait for @myen to follow you back.

3. You will receive a direct message from @myen to activate the integration between Twitter and Evernote.

4. Now test sending tweets you want to save to Evernote by adding @myen to your tweets.

5. You should be able to see that tweets in your Evernote account now.

I personally created a different notebook called ‘From Twitter’ to collect all the tweets imported through this method. Unfortunately, I have to manually put those tweets into that notebook. Now how I wish it can be done automatically! Hehe! If anyone knows better way in doing so, do let me know. Thanks!

Simplenote

As always, I like to try out different web applications, especially applications that enable writing or note-taking and can be accessible across multiple platforms. I was reading an article from LifeHacker and found this Simplenote.

For some people who love simplistic interface, Simplenote is the right application for writing. Its interface is clean and sleek without too much function to distract you while you write. The best function of all (to me, at least) is whatever you write on Simplenote, with just one click of button, it can turn your note to a simple blog post by publishing it into HTML format with a dedicated URL. Now you can share note from Simplenote by sharing that URL with ease.

These functions can be found on Simplenote Web application.

If you like to use tag function, Simplenote has easy way to let you tag your note and view by tag.

Other than the web application, there are many downloads available for various platforms to use Simplenote on your desktop and mobile devices. I’m currently using the Windows desktop version called ResophNotes, which provides simple interface, similar functions, and ease of synchronization.

I have been using Evernote for a few years now. Although Evernote provides many cool features, I find myself not actually using most of them. This got me thinking that simplicity has its benefits and we may not always need too comprehensive functions, though it’s always good to have them, of course. Anyway, it’s never too much to try out new application or keep using multiple ones. All applications today have the sync-to-the-cloud feature and available across different platforms, making everything you write accessible everywhere anytime.

Do try out Simplenote if you like simplistic writing application. Hope this post is useful for you in some ways. I appreciate if you share what other cool applications that you use for note-taking or writing. Thank you!

Do leave me some feedback

Do you know that WordPress has come up with cool form feature that you can incorporate into blog post or as blog page? It’s a cool new way to get instant feedback or data collection for simple research.

After reading about WordPress Forms, I have created a Feedback form on this blog. It’s just a simple form for giving me any comment or asking me any question. Your feedback for me is highly appreciated.

Feedback

I also hope it will be an easier way to let you communicate with me, other than the normal comment on blog post or emails to me. Although I don’t normally get a lot of comments, I occasionally receive emails asking me about the synthesis matrix for literature review. With this Feedback option, I welcome you to tell me more about anything you want. A blog should become a platform to provide more interactive ways for knowledge transfer and communication.

If you are using WordPress, I’m sure you can think of various ways to utilize this form feature to gain more feedback either for your blog or for simple research. I can think of a few forms to collect data from readers. Maybe I should try it out later if you would be so kind to help me out.