Seeking Workflows

At a workshop given early this semester, I found myself teaching an instructor a workflow. It wasn’t that she didn’t know how to do something in Blackboard, but that she needed a quick click-click-click task pattern to do something efficiently.

The other day I was listening to the podcast of Stephen Downes’ presentation on Personal Learning for Alec Couros’ EC&I 831 class at the University of Regina. As Downes took us through his Personal Learning Environment, he showed how he uses tools like Plex, MyGlu, RSS Writr, and Edu_RSS to sort through information (I think these tools are his own inventions). Although it was certainly not the point of the presentation, I found myself focusing on his workflow.

Then I stumbled on CogDogBlog’s post and replies about Web 2.0 gems, which led me through one of Alan’s own responses to FlickrCC (where I can find creative commons license images more quickly), which offered editing for the images in Piknik, an online image editor. I imagined a workflow when I need an image:

Find image in FlickrCC -> edit in Picknik -> download to desktop -> upload to website

Of course, when I tried it, I found I couldn’t put the attribution link in easily at all. It kept making it too big for the image. I usually do this kind of thing in html, or by editing the image in GraphicConverter. So the workflow became:

Find image in FlickrCC -> Save Image As to image folder -> open Graphic Converter -> create margin -> copy and paste attribution text and save -> open Dreamweaver -> upload image

Not fun. I know some of my current workflows are more cumbersome than they need to be. I open Dreamweaver every time I want to upload a file. But I keep stumbling on the same issues with web apps. It looks like the workflow will be great, but then it doesn’t work in a key area.

I bookmark to Del.icio.us. This should be easy, because Firefox has a toolbar button. Ideally, I go to a page, I want to bookmark it, and a window pops up to tag it:

Find page -> click toolbar button -> tag

Works fine from my office computer. From my home computer, I have to log in to Del.icio.us every time I start a new session. This is a separate pop-up window, and I lose track of what I wanted to bookmark in the first place.

Today I am seeking an online presentation tool, a PowerPoint beater. I tried Zoho Show (see previous post). OpenOffice’s presenter was too slow on my iBook. I downloaded a demo version of PulpMotion and tried Empressr, but they only seemed to accept local files, audio and video I either record on the spot or already possess, nothing from the web like embedded YouTube. I tried Preezo, but it only inserts an image (though it does let you use a URL for that) or text, no multimedia. So now I’ll keep going through other people’s tool lists. It’s not that I couldn’t go further and possibly make these other programs do what I want, but why should I have to?

So I’m thinking I’m not looking for good web apps any more. I’m looking for good workflows.

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