Guest post by Dan Weinstein, Ph.D.
(Dan Weinstein is currently Associate Professor of English at Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota. There, roughly 1400 miles from his birthplace in New York City, he teaches both writing and web design and researches best practices for computer supported writing instruction.)
One key to good teaching is simply the habit of keeping one’s teaching house in order. Usually, there is quite a bit to keep track of. Documents that range from assignment descriptions to lectures, handouts, and tests need to be created, updated, distributed, archived, and kept ready for access at a moment’s notice (this is particularly true when one is teaching online, which I quite often do).
To minimize the burden of this sort of housekeeping and keep my attention where it should be (on my students), I have devised a system of file management that streamlines my workflow to the point where virtually all I have to think about are the critical human interactions the system exists to support.
To do this, I use two tools in tandem: Buzzword and a spreadsheet. Any garden variety spreadsheet will do, the only requirement being that it support hyperlinks. At the moment I use either OpenOffice.org Calc or Microsoft Excel. If Buzzword were to host a spreadsheet application, I would probably use that.