Establishing a workflow

If you’ve ever spent a maddening few minutes walking around the house looking for your car keys then you’ll understand the importance of putting things in the right place. Whether it’s keys, sunglasses or digital data, having a set of rules that govern where you place an item helps you go a long way to being organised. The way you store your data, bookmarks, notes and files digitally all comes under the banner of workflow.

Over the next couple of posts we’re going to examine one way of structuring your digital workflow, and look at some useful services for being a bit more organised. We’ll also examine how you can join some of these services together to ensure you’ll always be able to find that bookmark, file or note.

Before you think too much about your workflow, consider where you find most of your information. You might subscribe to newsletters, follow blogs or get updates from Twitter. Also think about the way you access these services and when you do it. For example, do you set aside time each morning to read your feeds, or do you tend to do most of your browsing when you’re on the move and using your mobile phone? When you consider the range of devices you might use and the varied times and places that you’re accessing information, it becomes clear that you need an established routine to follow to make sure you can save that interesting resource for later. Your students probably have an even more irregular routine, so helping them establish a routine becomes really important.

Here’s a simple illustration of a possible workflow routine.

So let’s have a look at the first couple of steps in the process, and consider some of the useful tools that can play a part. Each of the tools we recommend have web and mobile versions, are available for free and also integrate well with each other.


The first step in the process is Find, and we’ll assume that you are already doing that in a variety of ways. Information could be coming to you via:

  • your own web searches and general browsing
  • blogs you follow (you might read these in a service like Feedly)
  • social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube & Pinterest
  • social bookmarking and curation sites like Scoop.It, Diigo or Pearl Trees
  • emails from colleagues and face to face meetings

Whatever the information you find, you’ll already be assessing the content for value and making some decisions. A quick scan of a site or article will help you to decide what to do in the next step of your workflow.


Now that you’ve found an interesting resource you’ll need to make a decision about what you want to do next. This could depend on how much time you have, whether you’re on a mobile device (those videos can chew up your data allowance pretty quickly) and whether you’re in the mood to read an article or watch a video. So we need to do a form of triage and decide what we want to read now and what we might want to read a bit later.

The best tool we’ve found for doing this is Pocket. It’s a free service with web and mobile app versions and allows you to save articles and videos for later viewing. Articles are presented in a lovely, clean reading view, and the mobile apps also download all of the content to your device so you can read even when you don’t have an internet connection. Pocket comes with extensions that can be installed in your web browser for one click saving of pages, and it also integrates really well with many of the popular services like Twitter and Feedly.

Here’s how to get started with Pocket.

  • Visit and sign up for an account
  • Install the Pocket extension in your browser. The How to Save page will give you a link to install the correct extension (for Firefox, Chrome or Safari) or a bookmark button for Internet Explorer. Once installed, look for the Pocket icon in your browser’s toolbar. Then you can save any page for later reading.
  • Link your email account to your Pocket account so you add resources via email.  Here’s a guide to the process.
  • You can see your saved articles in your web browser by visiting your queue. The queue can be organised as a grid or list view, can be searched and can also be sorted by article, video or image.


  • Download the Pocket app for your mobile device to read articles on the move. There is also an app for Apple Macs. Search your relevant app store for the Pocket app. Pocket’s mobile app will download your content so you can view it even when you don’t have an internet connection (perfect for the train).
  • Keep an eye out for the Pocket icon appearing in other services like Twitter or Feedly to make saving easier. We even include a Pocket icon at the bottom of each Bright Ideas post so you can save it for later. If you have Pocket installed in Chrome and login to Twitter then you’ll see the saving option appear under tweets with links (look for the more icon if you can’t see it). The best bit is that on mobile devices and the Mac app Pocket will also show you the original tweet, so you know where you discovered it. Genius.

    One click saving from Twitter makes it easy to save the tweet and the link

The Pocket mobile app has a number of sharing options, making it a pivotal tool in your mobile workflow.

Once you have viewed the item in Pocket, your next decision will be what to do with it. You can choose to mark the item as read, which will keep it in your Pocket archive. Selecting Trash will remove the item completely from your library.

You will also need to decide whether the resource should be moved into the next two areas of your workflow, store and share, which we will explore next. Fortunately Pocket includes a number of options for sending the article to other services like Twitter and Facebook. The Pocket mobile app also has even more options for sending to services like Evernote, Diigo, Delicious or Tumblr. Look for the arrow icon and join up the services you use.

Pocket can play a valuable part in your workflow as a holding pen for interesting resources. It integrates well with a wide variety of other services, making saving to Pocket and then storing or sharing a simple process.


Image credit: State Library of Victoria, photographer (1954), Basement of Dome building showing deteriorating stacks of newspapers and books, State Library of Victoria


Storify: Changing the way we tell stories

While technology is often used for getting work done and staying organised, sometimes the most interesting tools are those that lead us to new ways of doing things. The digital storytelling tool Storify definitely falls into that category. 

Storify allows for the creation of stories using a range of different elements. It can grab content such as pictures and video from many websites and also allows for text to be added. Perhaps the element that sets Storify apart is that tweets and public Facebook posts can also be added to a story. These elements are gathered together in a ‘storypad’ and can then be dragged into the story timeline (on the left of the screen). Have a look here for a quick demonstration of how it works. The great thing about Storify is that all content is linked backed to its original source.

Add  elements by searching in the storypad and then dragging into the story.

Storify has become a popular tool for recording reactions to news stories and current events because of the ability to add tweets to stories. It is also perfect for summing up professional learning events, like this example here of a recent SLAV conference. As YouTube videos can also be added it’s a nice way to put together a series of tutorial videos or screenshots. In fact, all of the tutorials featured on Bright Ideas are built in this way using Storify. You can follow our Storify account to stay up to date with new tutorials. Storify stories can also be easily embedded into your blog or website and there is an iPad app with a nice interface (though I’d recommend building long stories on your computer as I’ve found the app has crashed on me in the past).

Elements can be imported from a range of sources. You can also search Google or use the link icon to manually add content.

Storify also has applications in the classroom. It could be used to create digital stories with pictures sourced from around the web. It would also be perfect for recounts of events such as excursions; particularly if students are also tweeting during the day or taking pictures and video. The linear nature of the story also lends itself to procedural writing, or it could be a nice way for students to present research projects.

Being able to bring in social media elements also means that Storify could be perfect for issues analysis. Students could link to annotated articles and news stories, but also include analysis of tweets by those involved or those observing. It would also be perfect for media analysis of shows which generate buzz on Twitter, like Q & A or Big Brother (that’s the first time those two shows have been mentioned in the same breath!).

Storify has been around for a little while now and a recent redesign means it is well worth exploring. The editor is great fun to use and the wide range of media that it can import lends itself to a number of exciting possibilities.

Twitter announces updated widget features

If you have a blog or website it can be a good idea to include a panel displaying your recent tweets. The process of adding a stream of tweets to your blog is now much easier with the addition of a widget maker in Twitter.

Setting up a widget in Twitter

This new feature lets you choose between displaying all of your tweets, your favourites or even a search of a particular hashtag. We’ve included a sample widget below which displays tweets with the #vicpln hashtag. The widget also lets visitors to your site send you a tweet if they are logged into Twitter.

To access the new widget option, login to Twitter and go to the Settings menu. Once you’ve set up the widget you’ll get a code to embed the stream in your blog. To help you with the process we’ve put together a guide to adding a Twitter stream to your blog.

Why it’s worth picking Pocket

Pocket is one of the many tools that aims to help you keep track of web content. This free app serves as a good way to save articles and videos and is particularly useful for storing content when you are on the move so you can then explore it at a more convenient time.

Formerly known as Read It Later, Pocket was recently renamed and redesigned. It offers a very smooth interface and a number of useful features. Bookmarks can be added via email, through a bookmarking button that can be installed in your web browser or through a number of different mobile apps that can integrate with your Pocket account.  Many mobile Twitter apps and RSS readers now include a ‘Read Later’ option which will let you save interesting content to Pocket with one click. Considering many people read their Twitter feed when on the move or in a rush, being able to save this content for a more convenient time is very useful. One excellent feature of Pocket is that any links that have been added via a tweet will also retain the content of the original tweet. In this way you can save a link shared by someone, explore it later and then still be able to keep track of who shared the original link.

Saving to Pocket from Tweetbot on iPad

Pocket’s biggest competitor is Instapaper, which has been one of the most popular article saving options for quite a while. While the two services offer similar features, there are enough differences between the two to mean that you could make use of both. Instapaper is more suited for saving longer articles and provides a more elegant reading experience. But Pocket is perfect for saving shorter articles, videos or pictures. The reading list view (below) in both the mobile app and the web interface is also much more attractive than Instapaper. Unread content is presented in a magazine style layout, and once you select and view a link you can choose to either keep it by marking it as read, star it to keep it as a favourite or choose to delete the link permanently from your library. Saved content can also be tagged or searched.

Your unread links are presented in a magazine style layot

Pocket isn’t comprehensive enough to manage a large library of links in the way Diigo does, nor does it provide as smooth a reading experience as Instapaper. But the integration with a number of other mobile apps, as well as an attractive reading layout means it is the perfect option for keeping track of those video clips and short articles that you want to explore when you have more time.

Pocket for IOS

Pocket for Android (Google Play store)

Archive tweets with Tweetdoc

Twitter has been adopted by many teachers as a professional learning tool, allowing access to an incredible network of educators through hashtags such as the Victorian PLN (#vicpln). One of the benefits of tagging tweets with hashtags is that it allows for conversations around particular areas of interest or at conferences. An example of this is at the School Library Association of Victoria conferences, where the #slavconf hashtag allows attendees (and those participating online) to join the conversation. But while this is an incredibly powerful feature of Twitter, it can be difficult to archive all of these tweets for future reference. This is where Tweetdoc comes in.

Tweetdoc allows you to create a document listing all of the tweets based around a particular search. The document also displays a grid of all of the users who tweeted using the hashtag. We’ve used it archive tweets from several events and while we’ve discovered a couple of drawbacks- such as occasional bugs and no ability to filter spam tweets- overall we have found Tweetdoc to be a very useful tool.

Here’s how to create a Twitter archive using Tweetdoc. You can see the sample document produced in this tutorial here.

Permission slip

Those of you who follow the Victorian Police Twitter account may have noticed over the weekend an odd tweet about a magical weight loss technique. Most followers would have picked up straight away that the tweet was from someone who had gained unauthorised access to the Victorian Police account and the police moved quickly to inform followers and delete the tweet. (You can read more in this article about the tweet, with obligatory donut reference.) To see an official and trusted account accessed in this way is a timely reminder of the importance of keeping your accounts protected.

We’ve probably all received strange tweets or emails from our contacts, usually with a message that “This user is saying nasty rumours about you” or “I saw this photo of you and I’m laughing so hard” with a link to a malicious site. Because so many tweets share links using URL shortening services it can be difficult to see if a link is trustworthy just by looking at the address. Our tip would be to only open links from trusted sources, and make sure they have some context provided rather than just a general message like “I saw this site and thought of you”.

Twitter in particular seems susceptible to the problem, possibly because of the ability to connect a number of third party applications to your Twitter account. Being able to log in to different services using your Twitter account is very handy, meaning you don’t have to remember multiple passwords and making it easier to share links with one click. But the side effect can be that you are handing over partial control of your account. When you authorise an external service to access your account make sure that you read what the service will be able to do, and only authorise if you feel comfortable and trust the service.

Even if you have given permission to access your account, you still have the power to revoke access to an external service at any time. In order to secure your account and not see your followers or friends spammed with annoying or dangerous messages, we recommend doing a bit of housekeeping. Have a look at the services linked to your accounts and revoke permission to any that you aren’t using anymore or don’t trust.

To help you out, we’ve put together guides below to revoking external access to the three main accounts that you might use; Twitter, Facebook and Google.

Guide to revoking access to your Twitter account

Guide to revoking access to your Facebook account

Guide to revoking access to your Google account

PLN update – week five

As Victorian teachers enjoy a well-earned holiday, many participants in this year’s Personal Learning Network course are instead taking to Twitter, adding widgets to blogs, and pondering issues of digital citizenship.

As many readers of Bright Ideas know only too well, the first few weeks of the PLN course can be bewildering and sometimes a little scary, as people are faced with new terminology, concepts, tools and seemingly endless numbers of new accounts and passwords.

Happily, there’s plenty of support available from the ongoing PLN community, especially on Twitter through the #VicPLN hashtag – if you don’t use it yourself, check  it out. You don’t need to be Victorian to get benefit from the constant stream of resources, links and ideas from teacher librarians and educators at every level.

You’re also welcome to join in the discussion on our facebook group.


Slightly addicted to fiction

Judi Jagger, the current Western Australian Children’s Book Council judge, has developed her own blog. It is a must read for anyone interested in children’s and YA literature. Judi explains how her blog came to be:

Slightly Addicted to Fiction was born on a wet Saturday afternoon in mid November. It has sprung from the Fiction Focus blog that I started while working in Western Australia’s CMIS as joint editor of the print journal Fiction Focus. When I moved away from the city, the late and much-missed Jill Midolo arranged for me to maintain the blog from home; a dream job.

Although I always knew it was too good to last, the sudden loss of funding for the FF blog still came as a shock. One minute I was maintaining a blog that had secured a global readership, the next minute I wasn’t.

The blog itself hadn’t ceased, just my role. The many comments of support that flowed in were both affirming and humbling.

For a day or two, I did nothing. Then I put my toe in the Twitter water and hastily withdrew. Too ephemeral. Tweeting the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards was fine, but I longed to set them in the context of other awards on the blogging record. So an impulsive decision on that wet Saturday afternoon saw me set up my own forum. Once a blogger…

On Slightly Addicted to Fiction, I will continue what had been a successful formula: news about literature-related matters. I will continue the weekly links, expanding them into a broader context to encompass news about literary and children’s and Young Adult fiction.

Screen shot 2010-12-12 at 9.56.56 AM

I have also ventured back on to Twitter with a new identity (@readingjay) and am loving the cleverness of that publishes a daily newspaper that magically selects interesting posts from the people I follow. Each day it produces an attractive publication that regularly surprises me with its useful content. Blogging and Twitter: the ideal couple.

Readership of Slightly Addicted to Fiction is building slowly but it is something I feel compelled to do, with or without a large audience.

My former CMIS colleagues have a heavy workload and are doing a great job maintaining the first blog. I see the two as complementary and together will provide a useful resource for schools to keep their finger on the pulse of the literary world.

What was a job has become a hobby, but remains my passion. Slightly addicted to fiction – it’s an understatement.

Congratulations to Judi on her past and present contribution to Australian and global children’s and YA literature. And may we all be “slightly addicted to fiction”!

Penny Bentley’s blog

Penny Bentley began blogging earlier this year. Like a duck taking to water, Penny has found blogging an excellent way of sharing, learning and reflecting. She explains the process:

Earlier this year I signed up for a 12 week, online professional development program. As a teacher of secondary maths and science I have an interest in finding new ways to engage and motivate students. Well, the VicPLN program was eye opening, challenging and arguably the best PD I have ever done.

I used to consider social media, like Facebook, to be a waste of time. Something my kids use instead of doing more important things, like homework. Well, things have changed. I am a blogger, I use twitter, Facebook and many other applications on the web. My blog, CLOUD9 started out as an online record of my journey through the VicPLN program. I blogged about my reading, new discoveries, frustrations and thoughts about classroom applications. I was able to display media such as images, slide shows, video and audio. CLOUD 9 started to feel like my personal place on the web.

Screen shot 2010-10-29 at 8.35.03 PM

One of the best features of blogging is the authentic audience. Every time I made a post there was feedback, support and encouragement. I started to develop confidence in my ability to use technology, to create amazing things and to put myself out there in cyberspace. By the end of the program I was hooked, I could see the enormous potential for student engagement.

So, my desire to blog didn’t end with the PD. For a while the web felt like a lonely place, I missed my daily feedback and interaction.  There was a need to rethink the purpose of CLOUD9. It was important for me to enjoy blogging, to provide information that is educational and useful to teachers, to make smaller but more frequent posts and to have feedback. I decided to continue blogging about useful web tools, games, virtual excursions and any other application that may be useful in the classroom. CLOUD9 will provide bite sized professional development for teachers, with a taste of maths and science.

An unexpected outcome of blogging is that now I have a record of my 2010 professional development. I am beginning to view my blog as a digital portfolio of skills and achievements; it’s like an alternative to the dusty filing cabinet.

If you’ve been thinking about starting your own blog, Penny is an excellent example to follow. Well done Penny!

Virtual revolution: how the net shapes us

Have you been watching the SBS documentary? Airing on Tuesday evenings, there are two more episodes to go in the series.

Over four themed episodes that criss-cross the globe, journalist and academic Dr Aleks Krotoski explores the meaning of a phenomenon that is transforming everything from how we learn to how we shop, vote and make friends. The series reveals astonishing facts about how the web is rewiring our society, our economy and – drawing on a unique experiment conducted specifically for the series – maybe even our brains.

The series brings together everyone who’s anyone on the web – from its inventor Tim Berners-Lee to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg; from Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos; from web pioneers like Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to digital media barons like Arianna Huffington and Twitter founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams.

If you have missed any episodes, they are accessible online (for Australians at least, unsure about access overseas.) And you can read the full synopsis here.

This series is a must see for anyone involved in education.