Framework Five: Thing 4

Managing information in 50 words

Learners need to create or gather, apply and store relevant information in such a manner that it maintains its value, is easily discoverable and can be successfully recalled and reapplied. To do this they need to develop consistently ethical and effective strategies for each type of information they handle.

Managing information: case studies

Case study 1: Professional context – condensing useful information via adept note-taking

When I attend a conference or meeting I have learned that I cannot rely on memory alone to recognise the useful information that I would like to store and reapply from it.

To help me, I take written notes, focussing on information that I perceive to be useful at the time. These can be subject titles, key speaker phrases, subject examples and outstanding statistics. Alongside the data I record, I’ll make my own notes in real time, underlining important words, ringing vital statistics, drawing boxes round examples given, using bullet-points for lists, and even writing down my own thoughts on key points as I go.

When I come to write up, it’s these notes that prove invaluable in aiding recall of not just what information I found valuable, but a deeper recall of the sights, sounds and conference or meeting, including whether I felt (positive or negative) at the time about each piece of information and whether, on reflection, I feel differently now.

I make sure to consistently apply my own ethical filter if and when writing up, getting approval where necessary for reuse of slides or graphics, respecting speaker’s wishes where they are related and making sure not to use quotation marks if I feel I wasn’t able to document a phrase a speaker used word-for-word.

The final stage of transfer from notebook to working document to reflective blog allows for fine-tuning, expansion and application of concepts and safe storage of the relevant, valuable data.

For examples of my outputs from notes I’ve made, please visit my reflective blog here: https://awaterfallofconsciousness.wordpress.com/

Case study 2: Personal context – Scoring a cricket match

Occasionally, I will score a cricket match. This is such an established practice across the world, that you can now get scoring books to help you successfully document the multiple statistics that are accrued, in real time, during a cricket match. Statistics such as players, batting scores, the result of each delivery that a bowler bowls, the average scores of a bowler, the numbers of wickets, etc.

I began scoring amateur cricket matches that I attended, or even played in, for a cricket club and to help me write match reports for them. These days, it’s more likely to be a professional match that I’m listening to on the radio to enhance the experience.

The practice aids recall when viewed weeks, months, even years after the event. One glance at my scoring book and I can tell you which played scored the most runs, which team won, how many wickets fell, and even the key turning points in a match when one side began to take the upper hand.

Case study conclusions

Comparing the two case studies, it isn’t too difficult to spot that managing information for storage is hugely important. In both cases, the practice enables recall of an event. Correct documentation can mean that knowledge, if forgotten, can be learned again and again after an event.

This exercise has also driven home that an over-reliance on documenting a personal interpretation of the information can leave the data open to future misunderstanding. In that sense, the second case study, documenting raw statistics alone, is by far the superior example of accurate information storage. However, the first case study provides a way of mentally engaging with the information. Ultimately, the information that comes from that should, by all accounts, be the most useful on a personal level. Most interesting!

It has proved to me that, especially in a professional context, I need to continue to consider how I apply the concepts of professionalism, collaboration, ethics and privacy to how I manage information.

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