The #MyWorkflow series asks educators who are active creators on social media to share how they do their work. Today we speak to Doug Peterson, one of the originals when it comes to networked education. None can compare to the efforts Doug has put, and still puts, into connecting “active educators” across Ontario. Whether it’s through his dependable Follow Fridays on Twitter, or his frequent compilation of Ontario Edublogs on his Off the Record blog, Doug has been instrumental in fostering connected learning in this province and beyond.
How do you pay the bills?
Years of payroll deductions and saving every penny that I could.
What regular activity brings you little money but loads of happiness?
Walking the dog. There is a real sense of happiness when you see his smile and wagging tail knowing that we’re doing the roads, or the park, or the beach, or the Chrysler Greenway. We document too with a step counter to make sure that I get my daily 12000 steps and he gets his 24000.
What’s your current phone? Which phone do you miss? What will be your next one?
I have a Samsung Galaxy Edge 6. It was a big step from the Samsung Galaxy 3 which I thought was the greatest thing ever when I first got it. I think that we need to thank batteries for eventually giving up the ghost and make us realize that there are better things out there. Unless I lose this one, my next phone is at least two years away so I’m hesitant to predict what it will be.
What’s your current laptop? Which laptop do you miss? What will be your next one?
I have a MacBook Pro and a Sony Vaio that dual boots Ubuntu and Windows 10. The one that I choose depends on the task at hand. That Vaio really is a desktop replacement; it’s heavy but sturdy and is set up on my desk. The MacBook is far lighter and that makes it very portable for use on the go.
What apps and/or methods do you use to stay productive?
I have a real suite of applications that I use depending upon the task. Despite that, I find that I spend as much time in the Firefox browser as I can. Firefox has so many add-ons for all kinds of functionality. My blogging tool definitely is ScribeFire; my reading comes from Flipboard and News 360; my writing/calculations/
presentations from Google Drive.
Which apps do you check persistently, even if you wish you didn’t?
Words with Friends. I can play ZA, QI, SH, etc. with the best of them. I don’t necessarily win but it’s just nice to be in the game. Beyond that, I keep an eye on Twitter. I’ve made so many amazing connections there and have had so many opportunities happen because of these connections. I still fondly remember meeting your family at a BBQ when we welcomed some Philadelphia friends to Ontario.
How do you carry your gear?
Two ways. I’m a big fan of Samsonite gear. I have a rolling bag that fits nicely under the seat on an airplane and a backpack for just tooling around.
What other hardware rarely leave your bag?
Hahaha. There was one tool that absolutely never left it. It was my Swiss Army Knife which has bailed me out of many circumstances when I need a tool. It became a real companion until I forgot about it before a flight. I really miss it. I learned my lesson and now pack the bag as lightly as possible.
What piece(s) of analogue technology is a must in your life?
My wonderful wife gave me a Smart Watch for my birthday. Ever since then, I’m in search of the best analog watch face to run on this digital device. Philosophically, I think that teachers are analog time thinkers. We think everything in blocks of time. i.e. “this should take 10 minutes” rather than “I’ll be done by 2:12“.
What drink, snack, or food sits next to you when you’re being creative?
Coffee. Nothing else comes close.
When working, do you prefer the cafe, library, couch, office, kitchen table, or other?
I like my desk. I’ve got a nice chair, external keyboard, external mouse, second monitor – the whole environment is built for my productivity. It probably would be a challenge for others but that’s why we call it a personal computer, right?
When working, do you need quiet, ambient noise, speakers, or headphones?
There’s always music. I remember reading somewhere that the Windsor/Detroit area had the highest concentration of media stations in the world. Growing up, there was only one – CKLW. Once I moved here and discovered all of the other options, I truly enjoy the variety. In my classroom, there always was a radio on. The key was to convince the students that I hated a certain type of music so that they would leave it on WRIF.
If it’s one of the latter two, what’s on your playlist?
The default is E Street Radio.
Morning, afternoon, evening, or the witching hour?
How do you get from idea to shipping that idea?
Bizarrely, by walking the dog. We have two options – north or south – so there’s lots of time to think as we pass the same landmarks day in, day out. In 2013 and 2014, Cyndie Jacobs and I co-chaired the BIT Conference and we would meet online daily. We used to kid all the time that the dog and I had talked things over and would like to do this…
What’s one piece of advice you have for people that have difficulty with their workflow?
Step away from it. Just like my best ideas come from dog walking, I’m a firm believer in the power of the mind to multitask effectively. Go for a swim, do some chores, enjoy some music, walk the dog – it’s amazing how when you sit down to work that the mind has been mulling things around and turned it closer to a final product.
How can we find and connect with you online?
You’ll find me on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. I try to keep my blog active at dougpete.wordpress.com.