Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ask the Masses: Organizing Lesson Materials

A reader asks:

I’m having issues staying organized with my lesson plans and class presentation materials. On top of that, we don’t get much space to save our documents, presentations, images, and videos. Do you have any recommendations for staying organized and saving materials off the campus server?

Share your answers/observations/experiences in the comments section below!


  1. Yes! This is something I’ve struggled with myself. When I first started as a librarian (and in grad school, and before grad school) I was just organized *enough*. I was able to write what I needed to write and slog through it all to find it again to modify it as needed, but it was hardly efficient and barely qualified as organized. This year, I’ve done a better job of keeping everything in organized folders. This was done out of necessity, and now I swear by it! We don’t have much server space, and what we do have tends to fill up quickly. Sure, you can save things to your computer tower instead of the server, but that’s not exactly something IT recommends.

    I have gone almost exclusively to using Google Drive for my lesson plans and class presentations (sometimes Prezi too). I really like Google Drive because it is easy to create new folders, there’s a ton of space (if you’re uploading documents), and if you’re creating a document or file online through Google Drive it doesn’t use up any of your allotted space. I use it to brainstorm and collaborate with colleagues, share documents for committees, share resources with students, and I love that I can access it from anywhere with internet access. Find a system that works for you--and then stick with it.

    Here are some screenshots to show how I’ve chosen to organize my folders (follow the links):
    Google Drive Organization Image 1
    Google Drive Organization Image 2

    I know others who have really liked using Dropbox and Evernote--both are excellent too!

  2. Great question. I second Cara's suggestion of using Google Drive. Skydrive is a similar option if your campus uses Outlook, and documents can be shared. It's all about using the cloud to save network space. One additional suggestion: when sharing Google Drive documents, I find the URLS Google provides are so long. I shorten them using then they are very easy to share, email, link from LibGuides, etc.

    At my campus, we use mostly network storage with folders organized by department then course then semester. But prior to teaching a session,I always email myself a copy of my materials or save them on a flash drive. That way I have a back-up in the event there is a network problem.

    1. Yes! Always have a back-up because the one time you don't that's when you'll need it!

  3. I'm also a huge user of Google Drive, but I pair it with Evernote. I use Evernote to collect materials for lesson plans, lectures, images, videos, etc. Then, when I have my lesson plans open, I can take the material I researched and saved via Evernote and plug it into my outlines. It's a great way to keep stuff I find through RSS feeds, browsing the web, and Twitter. It helps me keep all of it in one place, ready to sift through for later use.

    I also do a weekly backup of my materials in which I save it in Dropbox and also on a flash drive.