Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Paperless? Yes, please!

This is a picture that I shared on my teaching blog a few years ago when I decided that I was going to start pushing my fourth grade classroom to go paperless. I took this picture as I was preparing to do report cards, and the papers were taking over my life. There was so much to lug around between home and school, and it was hard to keep track of everything. I teach in a 1:1 iPad classroom, so once I figured out the workflow process and taught it to my students, it made my life much easier. Being paperless, at least to me, doesn't mean being paper-free -- if there are times when it makes more sense to do something on paper, I will. But I've certainly cut way back on the amount of stuff that I print or copy. If I didn't have a paperless classroom, I shudder to think about how many trees would be dying between my students and my PhD research!

I often tell colleagues that the whole reason I love using technology is because it often makes my work more productive, efficient, and organized. I couldn't accomplish half of what I do without having great technology resources to lean on. With my classroom experiences of going paperless, I feel pretty confident about tackling a paperless lit review. I've taught teacher workshops on using GoodReader and Evernote, and I'm excited to abandon EndNote add Mendeley to the mix. I think the biggest challenge with any of this stuff is figuring out that best possible workflow. I was reading the blog posts from Dr. Jennifer Lubke, and it prompted a few questions that perhaps Dr. Varga could address in class:

1) It seems like one of the biggest objections to using the .pdf viewer in Mendeley for annotations was that it crashed a lot. Is that still the case? I played around with it a little bit on my iPad and saw that I could do highlighting and "sticky notes" -- fewer functions than are available in GoodReader, to be sure -- but it didn't crash at all. Are there other reasons why I should integrate a separate app into the reading process?

2) Another nerdy workflow question...I've set up a watch folder on DropBox for Mendeley. If I also sync that work folder with GoodReader, annotate the .pdfs, and save the flattened .pdfs back to DropBox, will Mendeley import those changes when it syncs with my watch folder? Is it only watching for new files, or does it watch for changed files, too?

3) How helpful are the social networking/resource recommendations on Mendeley? Is that a valuable feature, or is it still too soon to tell?

4) Is there a way to connect Mendeley to the UGA library to search automatically for full texts or download the library-owned electronic copies of cites stored on Mendeley?

I could certainly play around with the tools to figure out the answers to these questions, but if you already know the answers, I'd love to hear more.

Unrelated, my work session last week was productive. I'm slowly figuring out ATLAS.ti. The webinar was helpful, but technology webinars are always challenging -- I need to play around with the features more in order to really make sense of them, and that's going to take me a while. I was excited to learn about the video training resources and the ATLAS.ti blog where I can dig in as I'm ready.

I've also been reading further in the Friese book, Qualitative Data Analysis with ATLAS.ti, to make more sense of the software. I like the book, but I can tell the book was written using the Windows version. I'm generally okay with navigating the Mac/Windows divide, but she does talk about three different sample projects that come with ATLAS.ti, and I don't think the Mac version comes with any sample projects. I did a quick search for them online, and I haven't found them yet. This seems like a potential limitation of the Mac software in terms of the learning process. I'm still in the early stages of my research, so I don't have a lot of my own data. I'm hoping I can figure out a way to get a sample data set to play around with as I learn the software, and then I'll feel more confident using it when I get deeper into my own research.

I'm excited to learn more about Mendeley!

1 comment:

  1. Great questions - I am passing these along to Dr. Varga for tonigh.

    Glad that the webinar was useful as a quick overview, and I'm sorry to hear that aren't more resources online yet for the Mac version. You can pull sample data from anywhere, really - even PDF articles would work - unless you were looking for the official ATLAS.ti sample data that they talk about in their materials.