Friday, 17 May 2013

Totally Digital, Dude.

Am I a totally integrated digital administrator?  Two weeks ago if you had asked me that, I would have answered, "Absolutely."  But after returning from a tech symposium in Vancouver, I'm not so sure. In one of the workshops, a presenter (Dr. Mosbacker) offered us a picture of his desk.  It was simple and uncluttered. That's no big deal.  I keep a pretty neat desk, also. The startling revelation was the lack of files or paperwork around his work space. I began to wonder what someone would learn about me if they had a close look at my work space? Would they think I am an "old school" paper pusher or a digitally connected administrator?

Prominently displayed on my desk, I have an eight level paper divider for miscellaneous resumes, important government publications and other quick reference papers. I have a nice collection of reference books, a felt folder full of paper notes, a leather binder that have my day-planner and daily to do lists with contacts. Beside the desk is a two drawer file cabinet stuffed full of staff records, chapel notes, bus folders and school financial papers. Behind my desk is a six foot bookshelf packed with catalogues, educational reports, professional development material and binders of administrative reference books. Spilling into that, I have two corner bookshelves specially designed for binders that organize years of meeting minutes, newsletters, teaching guides and resources for my own classes. Plastered all over my walls above the desk are school calendars, paper class schedules and monthly chapel planners.


I spend hours on the computer. Most of my work is computer generated. My computer "desktop" is neat and my digital files are also well organized. I am in and out of software programs and mess around all the time with digital 2.0 tools. Even though I have successfully and eagerly gone digital, my office is still a relic from the 90s.

I intend to change this.

Stage One: Use Online Reference Materials.
I have already completed this objective. I cleared all of the reference materials off my desk. Anything that I couldn't find online, I scanned and organized in a digital file. That was relatively painless. Many of the reference books and government publications are more up-to-date online anyway. I will now use colourful digital schedules and calendars with reminders. Though it is comforting to have a healthy variety of glossy educational catalogues to flip through, that space is now clear and I will continue to order online.

Stage Two: Scan All Binders to Compliment Online Documentation.
This one is a little more complicated. Though I have fairly good computer records, I have many well organized binders from before we went digital. There was a decade of change in the style of record keeping from the early 2000s until now. Four or five years of my transitional records are duplicated because they are both paper and digital. I have made a new "digital file cabinet" and am organizing all of the computer records along with scans of all my paper records. It helps to have a photocopier that quickly scans large amounts of paper into a single PDF file for storage. As you can see by the picture below, fourteen years of meeting minutes can take up a lot of space. I am currently working through these binders by dividing the paper into years and scanning them for my digital records. I am half way though this goal. I have tossed out more than fifteen binders of school records already. I am pleased to say that I can now display another few family pictures.When I add another plant, my office will be a little more pleasant.

This process has brought up some interesting questions:
Which type of digital file will be still accessible to me twelve years from now when I want to access them?
What backup plan do I have in case of computer failure, power outage or fire?
What is the best way to display connections between related groups of files?
How secure is the cloud and which files do I need to store there for access on all my devices?

Stage Three: Clear Out the Filing Cabinet.
Ha! That will be a doozy! This might be the subject of my next blog.

If you would like to teach a teacher, I'm listening. Any recommendations or comments would be appreciated.


  1. Hi Steve, great post. I am very encouraged by your move to go digital. What is even more encouraging though, is your commitment to model what you are asking of your teachers. You are leading by example.

    I have often thought of doing this but have never made the true effort to see it happen. Maybe because of the time required, maybe because of the effort needed... You give me hope.

    Question: Of the binders and things you have scanned, how often were you going into them or referencing them? Were some used often, others occasionally, and others just original copy...'just in case' type files?

    Another Question: With this stuff now being digital, will they live or be available on your mobile device at all times? This must be a lot of data.

    Thanks, and I'm very much looking forward to following your final stages. Paul

  2. Thanks, Paul.
    The binders were pretty dusty. As a default, I would always look to my notes online. But there was a certain comfort knowing that if I couldn't find the file on my computer, I could go back and find it in my binders. Most of the binders were reference, and I would only go back to find information I needed.
    It was interesting to note that when I couldn't open my old publisher files anymore (the program would not open files earlier than the 98 version) I just went to my binders and found those files in paper with other handwritten bonuses.
    As far as the second question goes, I am working on another blog entry "Digital Commitments" which should answer the data questions. Stay tuned!