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CATCHsystem Starter Guide. Digital Learning & Productivity

by TJ WOLFE PhD Student and Technology Coach


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About CATCHsystem serves students and teachers in digital learning and productivity. To prepare today’s students for jobs that don’t yet exist with technology that hasn’t been created, teachers are challenged to create a solid digital education so students may flourish. CATCHsystem is a tool for teachers to CATCH students in learning, growing and being productive so they can spend time finding and following their passions. We live in an incredible time. Messaging happens with incredible speed and emails are passed back and forth in mere seconds of each other. Productivity is enhanced by so many different forms of available technology. Documents are shared by larger and larger groups of people. Sites on the internet and beyond will be created many millions of times over when you are finished reading this sentence. And Media is not only consumed but created by some of the most unlikely candidates. Those candidates are also younger than you think! Enter CATCHsystem.

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5 Components/Steps of CATCHsystem: 1. Start a Messaging system. 2. Incorporate a Productivity system. 3. Learn Sites. 4. Google Documents training. 5. Familiarize yourself with Media.

Digital Learning & Productivity

Copyright © 2011

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“CATCHsystem serves students and teachers in digital learning and productivity.�

Digital Learning & Productivity

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Step One

Start a Messaging System At the heart of good digital learning and productivity is a great messaging system. If you're like me, you live in email. That's your hub! Your place to send and receive messages that's stable and easily accessible.You trust your email. A great email/messaging system has all the features you need and use, but can be customized and changed as you change. I recommend messaging systems like Gmail or Outlook. These have great built-in features and can be set up and customized to fit you. For instructions on how to set up Gmail, watch the Overview of Gmail in Google Apps. And then come back next week as we talk about how to get and keep your Email to Zero! 4


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Step Two

Incorporate a Productivity System Once you’ve set up your email/messaging system and it is clean and clear and helping you become better at your job and/or personal life, we move to Step 2 in CATCHsystem, which is Productivity. This perhaps the key step in the entire system, because you can have the best Messaging system around and take advantage of great Sites, Documents and Media (steps 3, 4 & 5), but if you’re not productive with them, you’re hindering yourself and others. Let’s take a look at a chart that will help explain exactly how to be more productive, whether it’s with your email, voicemail, colleagues or family members. 5


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Step Two

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Incorporate a Productivity System

At the top of our Productivity chart you’ll see the words Things in red. This signifies all the ‘things’ that come at us from different directions in life; phone calls, emails, voicemails, ringing doorbell, boss at your desk, colleagues wanting to chit chat, child asking for new soccer cleats, spouse giving you a to-do list, and so on... Things come at us. The best we can do is Gather them and deal with them appropriately. Once we have them in front of us and can deal with them, we can make a decision by asking ourselves, “Can I do something about this Thing?” I’ll tell you, the answer is either Yes or No. 6


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Step Two

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Incorporate a Productivity System

If No, then we have 2 choices; we either delete it because we know it will never be needed again, or, we file it away in a good filing system because there’s a chance your colleague, boss, spouse, child, relative or neighbor could ask you about it again later. A GOOD filing system will allow you to find it where you need it, when you need it. 7


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Step Two

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Incorporate a Productivity System

If Yes, then we have 3 choices to make. As we covered in the Processing your Email post, if this Thing takes less than 2 minutes or 1 step, complete it NOW! Get it done, off your plate, and out of your mind. This step is huge!! It will cut down your workload and worry load in half! In just one step. Option 2 is to Delegate.You may ask yourself, “Am I the right person to do this Thing?” If the answer is NO, Delegate the task to someone better suited than you. If you can become good at delegating tasks to others, it will continue to cut down your work and worry load. It will also make you the type of person others know for getting things done. Choice number 3 is to Defer. Defer the Thing to your calendar, turn it into a project or put it onto a ‘next action’ list. Some Things are date sensitive, so if it needs to be done on a certain day this would be a great time to use the Calendar built right into your full-featured Messaging system. If you use Gmail, an email will be sent to you on the day it’s due.You could also turn this into a project where you list all of the steps involved in completing it and get them done one at a time. Last, you could put in on a ‘next actions’ list where you have a computer document or sheet of paper that has actions that you complete when you have a few minutes of down time (ten minutes before a meeting, waiting for the bus, watching kids soccer practice, etc.). These are the actions you take when you have that feeling of, ‘What am I suppose to be doing/what should I be doing right now?’

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Step Three Learn Sites

Step 3 in CATCHsystem is to learn Sites. It is not only important to understand the 4 types, but be able to create your own. There may be other types of Sites, but most fall under one of these four: a Website, Blog, Wiki and Social Network. A traditional website is good for visitors to find and read information, Blogs allow for interaction and comments, a Wiki can be changed by anyone that is interested and Social Networks are a combination of them all with viewing, commenting, changing and socializing. Is there any wonder so many people are moving toward social networks like Facebook? It combines many forms of communication in one and the socializing aspect of it is appealing to the younger crowd and beyond. The opportunity to create and customize your Site adds to the appeal and also teaches basic website creation, design and marketing. Creators soon learn what is aesthetically pleasing, topics that catch a viewers eye and the basics of sending and uploading content. Just as instant messaging is a great way to learn and refine typing skills, a social network will teach the creator many aspects of Sites and the technological aspects that underline them. Sometimes the best way to learn something is to jump into it. Much like learning a language, immersing yourself in it will lead to better results. Immersing yourself in a social network may increase the technological learning curve and connect you with others that can help you create the Site you can be proud of. So, get started! :) 9


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Step Four

Google Documents Training

Google Documents training is step 4 in the CATCHsystem. There is reason for using Google instead of simply stating Documents training but first, lets identify the 4 types of Documents, then explain Google. Putting all 4 of these together can help anyone be more productive, whether it’s in business, education or another endeavor. Students are most likely to benefit from following this type of Documents training.Â

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Step Four

Google Documents Training The first and most widely used Document is a Word Document. With it, a user processes words to their liking; creating essays, lists, letters, notes and so on. Most people are at least comfortable with using a basic word processing program such as MIcrosoft Word (Pages for the Mac user). Next, there is Forms; these collect data with the aid of questionnaires, surveys, charts, worksheets, and so on. Data from these Forms populate a Spreadsheet, the next type of Form used to organize large amounts of data. One of the big buzz words/statements lately is ‘Data Driven.’ It’s important to be able to organize and understand collected data, getting some Spreadsheet training is valuable in this setting. Last, there are Presentations. This is typically made into a Slideshow, using such programs as Microsoft Powerpoint, Apple Keynote or Open Office Powerpoint. After analyzing the collected data we present our findings and opinions to those most effected by the results. In education, this is where students finish a project and present results to their teacher and/or class.

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Step Four

Google Documents Training If students know and understand Sites, work can be uploaded to a personal or class website for all interested to view. And this is why Google Documents training is recommended. Google provides free resources for all 4 types of Documents training and gives support where and when needed. Users create their own Google account and store all work on their server in the ‘Cloud.’ This can be accessed at any time and any place your computer is connected to the internet. Additionally, Google allows users to ‘Share’ work with others. In the past, work was emailed to one another and sent back, creating more than one copy of the work. Now, the same document can be shared and changed whenever convenient. Live updates allow the document to be changed in real time so collaborators can work on it at the same time and see what each is doing. Forms are changed into web links so it can be shared with all asked to fill it out, all that’s needed is to follow the link, fill out the requested information and click submit. Google automatically populates a Spreadsheet will the information collected. This very simple and powerful option allows the creator to then make a Presentation with all the information using Google’s Slideshow/Powerpoint tool.

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Step Four

Google Documents Training

Many students struggle with the idea of presenting work to their teacher and/or classmates. Much of the discomfort comes in the form of not knowing how to follow the steps we’ve outlined above. It’s not difficult or complicated, yet it’s not taught. If students could use their knowledge of Word Documents to create Forms that populate Spreadsheets and lead to Presentations, there would be much more opportunity for learning because the anxiety is removed. Imagine students and schools where we could follow these steps simply and easily. Think of the number of jobs that require employees to process Documents, create Forms, analyze Spreadsheets and make Presentations. If students knew how to do this, with confidence by middle school, they’d be far ahead of the game! Let’s get Documents training into all our schools so students are less anxious and more excited about sharing their knowledge! Thanks. :)

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Step Five

Familiarize Yourself with Media Step 5 in CATCHsystem is to get familiar with Media. This can be anything from recorded audio, video, music, movie clips, pictures, images, animation and so on. Most of us are familiar with Media, but do we really understand the power it has to influence. Just look at where and how the screens we use to view Media has changed. It started out in our homes and on the walls, moved to our laps, then into our cars and now in our hands!

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Step Five

Familiarize Yourself with Media

Schools are slowly but surely pushing for more technology in classrooms. Programs like 1:1 Computing show promise and probe ware accessories enhance learning. But American schools are behind. In his well known video, Did You Know 2.0, Karl Fisch impresses on us that, “...we’re preparing students for jobs and technologies that don’t yet exist...” To help students with an unknown future, teachers need the knowledge and skills necessary to teach in a technology rich world. No longer is the job market confined to a city or state. Nor is it inside our own country, students today compete with job seekers in India and China. Instead of ten or twenty candidates for a position, there can be thousands. CATCHsystem serves students and teachers in digital learning and productivity. This gives teachers the opportunity to model 21st century skills. Teachers have the chance to lead students with new hardware and software inside the classroom. Students may not know what job or career they will have, but we can give them a solid base to stand on and create from. With knowledge and training in Messaging, Productivity, Sites, Documents and Media, American students will have the rest of the world CATCHing up with them again!

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Step Five

Familiarize Yourself with Media

Not only has the place we view Media changed, but the distance and time has changed, as well. A kid in South Africa is able to view a breakdancing video on YouTube created by students on the streets of New York City. They imitate, improvise and improve. Then release new videos that other young people elsewhere in the world watch and the cycle continues. New forms of dance expression spread throughout the world. If breakdancing can spread and change like this, what about other forms of expression? What else can be learned from young people? What power does Media give students? When a young person posts a video and receives more than 7 million views, what are the possibilities? Watch Chris Anderson: How web video powers innovation.

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All 5 steps of CATCHsystem have been explained. We discussed the importance of a good Messaging system and how much of an information and organization hub it is. Productivity is the most important step in CATCHsystem because you can have the best technology, but if you can’t be productive, it’s another obstacle instead of a help. Knowing and understanding Sites will allow you to collect, share, store, send, and change data of all kinds. This is becoming more essential to our digital lives every day. Documents training makes creating, organizing, analyzing and presenting data much easier and more efficient. Understanding Media is powerful. Gone are the days that the teacher in the schoolhouse is the keeper of all information and if you behave you might have access to it. Information is much different now, young people in South Africa can communicate and share information with others in New York City with a computer and an internet connection. This is where we are with CATCHsystem. So now I’d like to take some time to tell you where it came from:

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Lots of college graduates believe they have the tools and training to take on the world and make a big difference. They believe that changing the world is a matter of applying the knowledge they have newly acquired. As an Elementary Education major, I had dreams of changing the world one classroom at a time. After graduating in 2005 and receiving my first job as a Middle School Science teacher, I was excited to get started, and thought my colleagues would feel the same way. I also thought they would have a lot of the same training and skills I had. It didn’t take long to find out that I wasn’t starting out at the bottom and working my way up the teacher ladder.

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I thought I would need to learn a lot of ins and outs before completely taking over the world. But it didn’t work that way. There were a lot of gaps with many teachers, especially in the technology and productivity department. I quickly became one of the ‘technology people’ at the school. It wasn’t because I had any great training or experience with computers, it was the fact that schools are so far behind in training and implementation. Soon, I was helping turn projectors on and off, fixing email login issues, helping others find ways to use laptops in their classroom, suggesting videos that went along with content and showing examples of how I was using technology in my classroom. It often became difficult to get my lessons ready, let alone create new and interesting stuff for my students. As good as it felt to help other teachers, it felt as though every step forward had two steps back. As soon as all teachers were trained and comfortable with something (email server, grading software, projector, etc.) it would be replaced with something else. All the time and work down the drain and back around the school to train we would go. Digital Learning & Productivity

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Throughout the 5 years I spent in Middle School, I began formulating and writing down ideas. I didn’t have a lot of time to put all the ideas together because I was spending about 10-12 hours a day in my classroom completing mounds of paperwork (and my wife tried very hard to help me separate school and personal life). So I decided to continue my education by returning for a doctorate degree and dedicate my research focus to creating a system that could help alleviate the technology and productivity issues I saw in the Middle School. As more and more ideas were written down, edited, discussed and then presented to others, eventually the CATCHsystem took shape. The original intent of it was for teachers to become comfortable with technology. The idea was to present simple steps that could be used and implemented with technology. Although teachers are an extremely important ingredient in the system, it’s actually students that are the main focus. After all, they are what education is all about. They are the ones we spend 12 hours a day serving. They are the ones that make all the headaches, frustration and burnout somehow bearable.

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They are the ones that make all the headaches, frustration and burnout somehow bearable. They are the ones we trust with the future and hope to make things better. CATCHsystem is truly designed to catch students where they are so we can help them create the future we all want see. If students are facing uncertain futures where most of the jobs and technologies they’ll be using haven’t been invented yet, then teachers and administrators have a lot of work to do. Not only are schools behind in their knowledge and implementation of technology, but the students are not being served because they’re so far ahead and bored. Teachers are not the information leaders any longer. They have to step aside and admit that information can be found elsewhere. And instead of believing we can control students' use of technology, we have to teach them how to use it for the benefit of all of us. Teachers have to CATCH up to students so that they can lead students in the right direction, rather than keep them from it. Let’s use what we have to prepare students for the future, let’s use a simple step-by-step system that will allow teachers to be the technology leaders they should be and not the barrier that they sometimes are. Let’s use CATCHsystem as a tool to educate our most precious resource, our students. Thank you! :)

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“CATCHsystem serves students and teachers in digital learning and productivity.�

For more information and resources, please visit www.thecatchsystem.com

Digital Learning & Productivity

CATCHsystem Starter Guide  

Step-by-step guife to CATCHsystem.

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